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Tyrone dartist Mickey Mansell in action in PDC Home Tour tonight

Mickey Mansell will play in the PDC Home Tour from his Clonoe home tonight
Andy Watters

TYRONE darts player Mickey Mansell joins the action in round four of the PDC ‘Home Tour’ tonight.

In terms of live sport, the novel tournament which is being broadcast live on the PDC TV channel, is as close as fans will get for a while and Mansell will compete via video link from his Clonoe home against Ross Smith, Lisa Ashton and Holland’s Geert Nentjes.

With the PDC Tour suspended amid the Covid-19 lockdown, all players with tour cards are eligible to feature across 32 consecutive nights and groups of four will play off each evening in a league format with the group winners progressing to the knockout stage of the competition.

Each match is broadcast via video calls - filmed on a mobile phone on a tripod - and can be watched free by registered users.

Reigning world champion Peter ‘Snakebite’ Wright opened the tournament on Friday night but he was knocked out by Welshman Jamie Lewis who won the group with a shock 5-1 win over Wright among his three victories.

On Saturday night, Luke Woodhouse threw the competition's first perfect nine-dart finish as he averaged 114 in a 5-0 victory over Wales' world number three Gerwyn Price. Former World Championship runner-up Dave Chisnall made his entrance last night and tonight is the turn of Mansell, a Players’ Championship event winner in 2018.

“When we meet up at weekends it’s an international field of players,” explained former Clonoe O’Rahilly’s player Mansell.

“Everybody is flying in from all over so when the doors will open for that all to happen again I don’t know. This is a whole new experience for us all. The way darts is, when you’re playing somebody face-to-face a lot of it is about readying body language after you’ve hit a good score or they hit a bad score or you’ve won a leg or whatever it is. You can feed off the other player’s body language but in this we’re throwing at our own dartboard.

“It’s a novelty but it gives up something to practice for. Darts is very popular at the minute and there is a demand for it out there so this gives us an opportunity to play.”

All of the competing players receive an appearance free for taking part but, since it is not a ranking tournament, there is no prizemoney at the end. Mansell has come up with Plan A and Plan B scenarios.

“I built a room at the back of my garage that is just for darts,” Mansell, a joiner by trade, explained.

“I’ll go out there and play and hopefully the internet signal will be strong enough but if it fails I’m in ‘Plan B’ territory, I’ll have to get another room in the house and put a dartboard up.

“I’m hoping plan A works and I don’t have to go to B because I have a wife, three children and two dogs in the house. Maybe I’ll have to put all of them in the shed!”

Mansell says darts could return more quickly than other sports because many PDC events are played without spectators so that would not be an issue if the tour resumed.

“Most of the pro tour tournaments that we play in England are behind closed doors with no audience,” he explained.

“There’s a good possibility that we could be back sooner than a lot of other sports. In a lot of the tournaments there are only guests allowed so if the guests were taken out there literally would only be the 128 players and the officials. If things were relaxed we could be back up-and-running.”

PDC Home Tour (tonight, 7.30pm, live on the PDC TV channel, register to watch for free): Ross Smith v Lisa Ashton; Mickey Mansell v Geert Nentjes; Lisa Ashton v Geert Nentjes; Ross Smith v Mickey Mansell; Mickey Mansell v Lisa Ashton; Geert Nentjes v Ross Smith

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