KEVIN BURNESS defeated Mick McGowan 6-3 to win the 2018 Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay final on Saturday, securing his William Hill World Darts Championship debut in the process.
Northern Irishman Burness was making his PDC big stage debut and was broken in the opening leg by Ireland’s McGowan, who was looking to lift the title for a record-breaking third time.
Burness then found his groove and broke straight back to start a run of five successive legs and go within a leg of a first Alexandra Palace appearance.
McGowan survived a match dart and won the next two legs, but the comeback was short-lived as Burness sealed the biggest victory of his career.
“It means everything to me to win this trophy,” said Burness, a 53-year-old based in Newtownards.
“I lost in the semi-finals [in 2012] and I really wanted to bounce back and win it this year. I was nervous at the start but I settled down and enjoyed the experience after that.
“When I won my Tour Card at the start of the year my dream was to appear at Alexandra Palace and now I will fulfil that dream.”
Tom Kirby Memorial Irish Matchplay Final
Kevin Burness 6-3 Mick McGowan