World Number 73 Joe Murnan caused a major shock as he beat Dave Chisnall 6-4 to win his maiden PDC title, in the tenth Players Championship event of 2015 in Crawley. Murnan, who does NOT hold a PDC tour-card, has now given himself a great chance of qualifying for the World Matchplay this July.
Murnan overcame a plethora of talented players en route to victory, beating Vincent van der Voort 6-4 in the opening round. Van der Voort came agonisingly close to knocking out Michael van Gerwen yesterday and the Dutch Destroyer has been a prominent feature in the latter stages of tournaments this year.
Murnan then surged into the last 16, after comprehensively beating Adam Hunt and Dimitri van den Bergh 6-1 and 6-2 respectively. He faced talented youngster Josh Payne in the last 16; scraping through 6-5 in a tense last-leg decider.
Former Lakeside World Champion and Premier League participant Stephen Bunting awaited in the quarters, however Murnan was clinical and won 6-3, despite the Bullet boasting a 102.63 average, in comparison to Joe’s 91.99.
Michael van Gerwen and Dave Chisnall, who finished 1st and 2nd respectively in this year’s Premier League, contested a scrappy semi-final, which Chisnall won 6-3 with a modest 88 average. Murnan then defeated emerging Irish talent Daryl Gurney by the same score line in the second semi-final.
In Sunday’s showpiece, Murnan nicknamed ‘Shaggy’ averaged 99.09 in defeating Chisnall. The former Romanian Open winner hit 3 180’s and fired in a brilliant 121 checkout to secure victory. It was a surprise outcome, however keen darts fans will be well aware of Murnan’s prodigious ability and there’s absolutely no doubt that his current world ranking is not reflective of his quality.
He had enjoyed a strong start to 2015, reaching the quarter-finals of the German Darts Championship in February, where he beat Michael Barnard, Ian White and Brendan Dolan before giving Michael van Gerwen a major scare, despite trailing 4-0 at one stage.
The 31-year-old, from Bolton, also performed strongly in his UK Open qualification campaign, finishing 35th in the overall Order of Merit, although he lost in the last 64 in Minehead to 8-time major winner James Wade.
Today’s victory could potentially be career-defining for Murnan. As previously mentioned, he now has a realistic chance of qualifying for the World Matchplay and even the World Grand Prix in October. He will now be catapulted into the World’s top 64, which if he maintains this ranking, will secure him an automatic tour-card in 2016.
It is refreshing to see an ‘unknown’ win a Pro Tour event; the likes of Michael van Gerwen, Adrian Lewis, Gary Anderson, Phil Taylor and James Wade have dominated the Pro Tour events this calendar year, but today’s results are indicative of the strength in depth within the PDC ranks.
The Pro Tour is an unrelenting and ruthless animal. The quality throughout the field is tremendous, so to win a Players Championship event you must possess immense quality as well as consistency. Joe Murnan has shown tangible evidence of improvement and development in 2015 and his potential is finally being fulfilled. Congratulations Joe!