Say it IS so Joe!
Unicorn star Joe Cullen has finally done it! He has won his first big PDC title. Cullen beat Daryl Gurney 6-5 in a thrilling final at Players Championship 8 in Barnsley on Sunday, where both players hit six 180s.
It has been a long time coming but there is no doubt that Cullen has deserved his big win after so many near misses. His improvement over the last two years is a testament to hard work and a change of attitude.
Gurney had won his maiden title on Saturday as he beat Unicorn's Kim Huybrechts to take Players Championship 7.
But the glory and accolades go to Cullen. The win takes the Team Unicorn ace to a career high 24th in the world rankings and will also secure his spot at the World Matchplay in Blackpool in July. He is also the 64th different winner of a PDC Pro Tour title!
"I have worked tremendously hard after I realised that I couldn't just rely on natural ability, so this day has been a long time in the making and I am extremely proud," he said.
"So many people have stood by me during the tough times and this win is for all of them as well. Also I have to say a special thank you to everyone at Unicorn for keeping the faith. It is now down to me to build on this and chase down more titles and a place in the world's top 16."
He held his nerve superbly to win that deciding leg. Cullen hit seven perfect darts to go 2-1 up, then broke Gurney with a 14 darter. At 4-1 he looked to be coasting before the Irishman hit back with an 11 darter.
A cool D6 saw Cullen go 5-2 up only for Gurney to strike again, then break with another 11 dart leg and he levelled to force the decider.
Cullen though closed it out on D4 after Gurney had missed one dart at the bull to pinch it.
On the day he saw off Yordi Meeuwisse (6-5), Robert Owen (6-3), Steve Beaton (6-3), John Michael (6-3), before a 6-4 quarter-final win over James Richardson.
But it so nearly didn't happen! Joe survived two match darts against Meeuwisse in that opening game.
Cullen edged out Mervyn King 6-4 in the semi-finals and averaged 101 in the final against Gurney who had an end average of over 107. That's how well Cullen played.
Also on Sunday, James Wade reached the semi-finals but lost 6-4 to Gurney.....and Raymond van Barneveld made it through to the last 16.
On Saturday, Kim Huybrechts lost another final, but should still be very proud of the way that he played after losing his mother and his elimination from the Premier League.
The Belgian enjoyed a 6-0 victory over Wade in the last 16, then beat Peter Wright 6-4 in the quarter-finals and he followed that with a 6-3 win against Jermaine Wattimena in the semi-finals.
In the final he won the opening leg, but then saw Gurney reel off four consecutive legs. Huybrechts couldn't recover and ended up losing 6-3.
Unicorn duo Kyle Anderson and Michael Smith reached the last 16 on Saturday.
But it is huge congratulations from everyone at Team Unicorn to Joe Cullen on that magical first title. Hopefully it's the first of many.
By STUART PYKE
Photo courtesy Lawrence Lustig / PDC