MARIA O’Brien produced one of her best ever performances on the pro circuit and claimed her first ever Category A title when she won the Slovak Open in the x- bionic® sphere in Šamorín, near Bratislava.
There were two ranking events played over the weekend, the Slovak Open and Slovak Masters which carried order of merit points in both A and B BDO categories and the Business Development Manager secured maximum ranking points in claiming her first title of 2019.
Maria safely negotiated the early rounds before disposing of Sweden’s Deana Rosenblom 4-0 in the last 32.
She then ended the hopes of Paula Jacklin, by a 4-1 margin, before meeting the defending champion Fallon Sherrock.
Sherrock had defeated Maria 5-1 the day before, in the quarter-finals of the Slovak Masters but in a well contested encounter, the scoreline stood at 4-4 before O’Brien hit the winning double of the decisive leg.
Jitka Cisarovà from the Czech Republic was a surprise semi-finalist, but Maria swept her aside 5-1 before meeting the World No.1 ranked player Lisa Ashton, the only player in the World’s top 10 who she had never beaten.
Maria scored well in the opening game of the final but five missed darts at the business end of the leg let Ashton in to go one up.
O’Brien scored 440 points with her first four visits of the second leg, but only had one dart at the double before Lisa went 2-0 up in 16.
Maria pulled one back when taking the third in 18 and then levelled when finishing a 15-darter with a kill of 104.
Four more ton plus scores in the next helped Maria to edge in front for the first time with a win in 18 before making it 4-2 when taking the next in 16.
Lisa scored well in the next leg and arrived at her double first but uncharacteristically missed six game darts before Maria hit double 20 at her first attempt to clinch the title.
Asked how she felt after winning her first major, Maria replied: “Over the moon, Lisa was the last monkey off my back”.
Maria finished with a three-dart average of 91.9 and will now look towards improving her ranking further when she contests the PokerStars Isle of Man International Darts Classic and the PokerStars Isle of Man International Darts Open over the weekend of March 7-9.