Irish amateur Collins to face ‘The Power’

AN IRISH amateur darts player has landed the toughest job in the sport after he was drawn against world champion Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in the opening round of his first major international event.

Joe Collins from Cork has qualified for the prestigious £226,000 (€331,000) Skybet World Grand Prix, which takes place in the Citywest Hotel in Dublin from October 24.

Players from Britain, Canada, Holland and Ireland have qualified for the tournament, which will be televised live on Sky Sports.

The draw has paired Collins - rated at 1000/1 to win the tournament outright - against twelve-time world champion Phil Taylor, rated 1/2 to win the tournament. The best-of-three-sets first round match will be televised on Sky Sports live at 8pm on October 25.

Taylor has won 12 world titles and five World Grand Prix titles but Cork Darts Players’ Association chairman Michael O’Sullivan said Collins was confident of causing an upset.

“Joe has no fear. He was the Cork captain in 2004. If he can get used to the stage and television cameras, he could cause a shock,” said O’Sullivan.

Collins, from Minane Bridge, can take some hope from last year. Taylor crashed out in the first round of the tournament to unknown Andy Callaby in one of the sport’s biggest upsets.

Meanwhile, English star Colin Lloyd, winner of the tournament last year, will begin his title defence against another Irishman, Tom Kirby from Kildare.

Lloyd picked up his first major title 12 months ago when he defeated Alan Warriner 7-3 in the final at the Citywest Hotel.

Dublin’s Keith Rooney, a former World Youths Championship finalist, faces England’s James Wade while Co Down’s John McGowan faces another Englishman, Alan Caves after the draw was made in Wednesday.

More than 400 players in Ireland alone entered the preliminary tournament to get to this stage.

The total prize fund for the event is £226,000 (€331,000), with £20,000 (€29,000) to the winner and a bonus prize of £150,000 (€220,000) should any player achieve what has never been managed on television before: a nine-dart leg starting with a double.

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