PLYMOUTH’s own golden girl, Maria O’Brien, became the first Devon darts player ever to reach the final of the BDO Gold Cup singles, only to be denied by the current world champion Lisa Ashton at the Magna Centre, Rotherham.
The Business Development Manager began well with a 4-0 demolition job on Gloucestershire’s Elaine Powell before emerging a 4-2 winner against Liz Humphries from Cambridgeshire.
O’Brien followed those successes with a 4-1 victory over London’s Carly Townsend before meeting the former England International and a BDO Gold Cup winner herself back in 2012, Zoe Jones, but that form counted for nothing as she was dispatched in four straight legs.
SO NEAR YET SO FAR: Maria O'Brien (24.02) gave a good account of herself and made the final of the BDO Gold Cup, only to be denied by the current world champion Lisa Ashton (28.16) who took the title by a 5-3 margin.
Now into the quarter-finals, O’Brien defeated Rebecca Barrow of Northamptonshire 4-1 before meeting Fallon Sherrock for a place in the final.
It was at this stage last year, that O’Brien had her hopes dented when Sherrock defeated her in the semi-final before going on to take the title when beating Deta Hedman in the final with a 28.04 average.
But those roles were reversed 12 months on and Maria emerged a 4-3 winner, posting a three-dart average of 72.03.
Only one player now stood in the way of O'Brien clinching the 2018 BDO Gold Cup ladies’ title and that was the four-time world champion Lisa Ashton.
The first two legs were shared before OB edged in front for the first time with a 16-darter, aided by a maximum 180.
The Lancashire Rose, then showed her credentials when she checked out from 81 for a 12-darter, having previously thrown three consecutive 140s.
Ashton then won in 17 to move 3-2 in front and went two legs in front for the first time when taking the next for a 4-2 lead.
She won that leg in 15 after scoring 378 points with her last nine darts including a checkout of 153.
Maria reduced the deficit when taking the seventh leg in 18 only for the Bolton thrower to start the eighth leg with 140-140-100-103 and although she bust on her next throw, hit double nine with the first dart of her next visit to win in 16 and claim the coveted title.