Mixed fortunes for Maria in Isle of Man Festival

PLYMOUTH’S top lady darts player returned to the city after an arduous four-day competition in the Isle of Man Festival of Darts, after boosting her world ranking with two good singles performances from the three she played in.

On the opening day of the tournament, Maria O’Brien struggled in the opening round to defeat London’s Leanne Topper 3-2 and was then crestfallen when she bowed out of the Isle of Man Classic singles when beaten 3-0 by Welsh international Rhian Griffiths.

But good darts players turn poor form around, and this is exactly what the Business Development Manager did the following day when competing in the Isle of Man Masters.

For the second day in a row she was taken the full distance in the opening round but edged out Brenda Dyer 4-3.

TWO FROM THREE AIN'T BAD: Two good performances from Maria O'Brien at the Isle of Man Festival of Darts boosted her world ranking.

She then had to face the strong Dutch competitor Aileen de Graaf but the World No.3 player held no fears for O’Brien as she was swept aside 4-2.

A very good performance in the last 16 saw her defeat Cumbria’s Hilary Kirkbride in four straight legs before having to meet the current World champion Lisa Ashton in the last eight.

O’Brien rallied well and took arguably the best lady player in the world to 3-3 but despite leaving a shot at double tops for a famous victory, the Lancashire Rose did not need a second bite at her finishing double, only to leave O’Brien thinking what could have been.

Players competed on the Saturday in the Isle of Man PokerStars Open, the most prestigious of the competitions which carried maximum ranking points.

O’Brien began well with a 4-0 defeat of Scotland’s Amanda Cox and followed it up with a 4-3 victory against Felicia Blay, a player who was a losing semi-finalist at the Turkish Open in 2017.

That victory took her into the last 16 where she faced her nemesis Sharon Prins who had defeated O’Brien in the 2018 World Championships, but the Dutch player was outclassed this time around.

O’Brien took the honours by a 4-2 margin but went out at the quarter-final stage when defeated 4-1 by Aileen de Graaf, the same player she had beaten only the day before.

The final competition of the weekend saw O’Brien and Deta Hedman line-up for the Isle of Man Pairs, but they unfortunately failed to add this title to the Scottish Open which they won in February.

They began well enough by winning their first two matches without dropping a leg but were then ousted from the competition by Felicia Blay and Laura Turner who defeated the Scottish Pairs champions 2-1.

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