KEELAN Kay gave arguably his best performance of the year when he competed in the WDS Legal Associates Junior World Championship at the Action Indoor Sports Arena, Bristol yesterday, but despite some outstanding darts throughout the day, bowed out at the quarter-final stage.
Initially players were drawn into groups to contest a best of three legs round-robin format and Keelan’s very first opponent was the 2018 BDO World Youth Championship runner-up Killian Heffernan.
Despite both players having good pedigree, it was not the classic it could have been, but none the less, Keelan hit one more double than the Irishman to edge it 2-1.
He knew that he had to step it up a gear if he was to progress and that is exactly what he did against Buster Turner when, in winning 2-0, aided by his first maximum of the day, came out of it with a 31.48 average.
Order of Merit qualifier Zac Thorne was Kay’s next opponent in the group and produced another excellent showing when winning 2-0 in 15 and 18 for a 30.36 average.
The Plymouth marksman carried his rich vein of form into the next match and disposed of Meritt Jaimeson in straight legs, having opened up with a win in 13, taking the second in 17 for a single dart average of 27.63.
Those four victories saw Keelan finish top of his group which put him into the last 32 where the format changed to the best of seven legs.
The Lord of the Board went 2-0 up in 20 and 15, only for Gibraltar’s top marksman, Justin Hewitt, to level with two 18-darters, but two out of the last three legs in 17 and 20 saw Kay edge it 4-3.
Rusty-Jake Rodriguez claimed the first two legs in 18 and 14 in the round of 16, but Kay responded well by edging in front when taking the next three in 17, 18 and 18.
The Austrian levelled in 19 before Kay won the match in just four visits to the oche when scoring 100, 180, 100 before checking out at the first opportunity from 121 for an excellent 12-darter.
Only eight players now remained in the competition and Keelan’s opponent was none other than Killian Herffernan who he had defeated earlier in the day but sadly, this time around, roles were reversed.
Despite taking an early 2-0 lead, aided by his third maximum of the day, Kay bowed out 4-3.
Keelan said after the event: “I had some good games, but my form dipped too much in the quarters and you can’t do that in the World championships”.
Having followed his progress throughout the year, this performance was by far one of his best, an excellent showing against the best youth players in the world and he should be very proud of his achievements, despite the disappointment of not going further.
He still has two more years to win this trophy and with more practise and dedication to come who knows what the future will hold.
But Keelan can look forward to 2019 in earnest, both on the JDC Modus Tour and on the PDC Unicorn Development Tour after he was the recipient of one of only three PDPA scholarships.
The tour will consist of 20 events, four of which will be played out over five weekends which begins March 9/10 at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan.
Lennon Craddock and Dutchman Jurjen van der Velde were the two finalists and they will compete for the World Champion Youth title on stage at the Alexandra Palace on Tuesday, during the PDC World Championship.