University of Sunderland darts captain Dan Kelly insists he is proud of his team after they came away from Sunday’s triple header with two wins and a tightly-contested defeat.
The Wearsiders kicked off the day with successive wins, thrashing York Ladies 10-1, before narrowly seeing off York 2nds in a 6-5 win.
Yet York 1sts proved a bridge too far for Sunderland as despite heading into the final three singles rubbers at 4-4, they succumbed to a 7-4 defeat.
Nonetheless, Kelly feels there were plenty of positives to take from the three games, and believes they can take heart in their performances as they head into the latter stages of the league.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” said Kelly.
“To play good darts for more than six hours proves we are still able to compete. We also proved we could still handle the pressure, and still be able to compete in big games.”
After winning two successive games, the Wearsiders headed into their game with York 1sts knowing nothing but a win would suffice if they were to stay alive in the race for finals day in the North East University darts league.
The trio of Dan Kelly, Dan Marshall and Sean McCormick won their triples rubber to give Sunderland the perfect start, only for them to be pegged back instantly as the trio of Nick Cary, Chris Harris and Josh Carr were beaten.
Sunderland regained the lead as McCormick and Cary won their doubles tie, but fell behind as Kelly/Marshall and Carr/Harris were beaten in their doubles tie.
Marshall leveled proceedings as he came through a hard fought singles tie, but Sunderland found themselves 4-3 down after Carr was beaten in a last leg decider.
However, Sunderland found themselves level again after McCormick won his singles 2-0 to make it 4-4, meaning he secured an unbeaten day winning all nine of his rubbers, and Kelly was full of praise for his performance.
“Credit has to go to Sean McCormick, winning nine out of his nine games is an exceptional achievement, and it just shows how much he’s improved in the last year.”
Sunderland couldn’t capitalise on their strong position though and after Cary, Kelly and Harris were all beaten in singles, they fell to a 7-4 defeat, leaving them adrift of the top two qualifying places.
With the addition of the plate competition for teams who finish third and fourth in the North and South divisions, Kelly believes that is the most realistic objective for his team now.
“I honestly thought we could beat York 1sts. Like previous games, we made a couple of mistakes, but we have improved drastically from Tuesday,” said Kelly.
“Yesterday proved that other teams know we can still compete and we need to try and pick up as many points as we can and then I’ll have a look on what we can do.
“Ideally, I would have liked us to have been higher in the league, however the standard has increased so I think we’ll need a miracle to qualify for finals. Maybe now we should aim to qualify for the Plate.”
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