Shepherd and Derry regain PDC tour cards in Wigan’s Qualifying School
Kirk Shepherd and Nathan Derry regained their PDC tour cards on Sunday afternoon at Wigan’s Robin Park Leisure Centre as Qualifying School came to a close.
The pair joined Thursday’s winners Jamie Hughes and Harry Ward, Friday’s graduates Scott Baker and Mark McGeeney, and Saturday’s winners Matt Clark and Reece Robinson in claiming a tour card.
Both had previously owned a tour card on the professional circuit, with Shepherd having instantly regained his after losing it at the backend of last year, while Derry rejoined the darting elite after three years away from the professional circuit.
Former World Championship finalist, Shepherd, was in need of a good run on the final day of action after already reaching the semi-finals on day one in Wigan. The Swindon-based ace got off to a steady start, as wins over Benjamin Davis, Eikichi Nakanishi, Cameron Menzies and Andy Jenkins put him through to the last 16 – where he’d face reigning three-time Lakeside champion Glen Durrant.
Shepherd averaged 102.3 in convincingly seeing off ‘Duzza’, before a fourth 5-3 victory of the day – this time over Darren Beveridge – put the 32-year-old into the last four.
Shepherd had already secured his tour card prior to the final, but comfortably defeated Kevin Painter 5-2 in Wigan, meaning ‘The Artist’ will be without a tour card for the first time since it was introduced back in 2011.
Nathan Derry rekindled the form that saw him reach the last 32 of the UK Open in 2015, as he beat Joe Murnan in the decider at the Robin Park Leisure Centre, to own to a PDC tour card for the first time in three years.
Wins over David Taylor, Andrew Gilding, Callum Francis and Conan Whitehead got Derry off to the best of starts, before back-to-back 5-3 victories over Lee Evans and Barry Lynn moved the 32-year-old just two games away to the professional circuit.
‘The Firework’ survived match darts in his last eight match against Northern Ireland’s Nathan Rafferty – who had earlier ended Lisa Ashton’s hopes of a history-making tour card. Rafferty squandered darts at tops, with Derry punishing, hitting a superb 14-darter and a 82 checkout to move on the brink of a tour card.
Derry’s tour card success was sealed following a 5-1 drubbing of an out-of-sorts Joe Murnan. Bolton’s Murnan was later confirmed amongst an additional 11 tour cards winners, alongside the likes of Andy Boulton, Conan Whitehead and Glen Durrant via the UK Qualifying School ranking system.
PDC UK Qualifying School Day Four
Nathan Derry 5-3 Barry Lynn
Nathan Rafferty 5-2 Lisa Ashton
Joe Murnan 5-2 Mark Barilli
Martin O’Boyle 5-2 Thomas Gregory
Gavin Carlin 5-3 Jason Cullen
Kevin Painter 5-3 Ryan Murray
Darren Beveridge 5-0 Joshua Burksfield
Kirk Shepherd 5-3 Glen Durrant
Nathan Derry 5-4 Nathan Rafferty
Joe Murnan 5-3 Martin O’Boyle
Kevin Painter 5-4 Gavin Carlin
Kirk Shepherd 5-3 Darren Beveridge
Nathan Derry 5-1 Joe Murnan
Kirk Shepherd 5-2 Kevin Painter