Cullen dedicates emotional Masters win to memory of his mother

Thrilling finale ses Cullen claim first televised title at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes
Joe Cullen wins the Masters in Milton Keynes.  Pic: Taka Wu/PDCJoe Cullen wins the Masters in Milton Keynes.  Pic: Taka Wu/PDC
Joe Cullen wins the Masters in Milton Keynes. Pic: Taka Wu/PDC

Tearful Joe Cullen secured the first televised title of his career with a superb 11-9 win over Dave Chisnall in Sunday’s Ladbrokes Masters final.

Cullen had never previously reached a televised decider, but continued the progress he has made in recent years by finally claiming big-stage glory.

In the process, he scooped the £60,000 Masters title at Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena, following up Sunday’s earlier wins over Michael van Gerwen and Jose de Sousa with victory against Chisnall.

Cullen had claimed a maiden televised win over Van Gerwen with a 10-7 quarter-final win, and was an 11-8 victor against De Sousa in the last four.

He then held off Chisnall’s fightback from 5-2 down in a dramatic final, as legs of 12, 14 and 12 darts saw Cullen take command.

Chisnall, though, took three in a row to hit back before Cullen sandwiched an 82 finish between 14-darters to regain command at 8-5, before taking out 126 to move to the brink of victory at 10-7.

He missed ten match darts across the next two legs as Chisnall kept his hopes alive and pulled back to 10-9, but Cullen pinned double 18 in the next to write his name into the history books.

An emotional Joe Cullen after his winning darts. Pic: Taka Wu/PDCAn emotional Joe Cullen after his winning darts. Pic: Taka Wu/PDC
An emotional Joe Cullen after his winning darts. Pic: Taka Wu/PDC

The win comes only three months after Cullen’s mother passed away, and the 32-year-old emotionally celebrated the success with his father on stage.

“I’ve dreamed of this moment for a long time,” said Cullen. “I felt like I was going to win it at the start of the day, so to actually get over the line feels amazing.

“It’s bitter-sweet. I’d love my mum to have been here to see me do it but life’s not always fair. I miss my mum dearly so that’s definitely for her.

“I lost my mum in October and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching. That was for my mum.

“It was special to have my dad here. Losing a parent is always tough, so to have my dad by my side supporting me is great.”

Victory in the 2021 Masters sparked a run of four TV titles for Jonny Clayton, and Cullen is hoping to emulate that success after claiming his maiden big-stage triumph.

“It’s a foot on the ladder and it’s something that a lot of players higher ranked than me haven’t done, so it can only be a positive going forward,” he added.

“Hopefully this is the first of many. I’ve proved I can do it on TV and it’s even more pleasing because I played well.

“My finishing all weekend has been pretty good but you can’t practice for the moment you have a dart to win a TV title.

“I felt comfortable for the whole game and then all of a sudden I thought I was going to win and that’s when it all goes to pieces, as you saw.

“The double 18 at the end was more a relief. I got over the line and that’s all that matters.”

Chisnall saw off World Championship finalist Michael Smith in Sunday afternoon’s quarter-finals, and ended Jonny Clayton’s Masters title defeat with an 11-7 semi-final success.

However, he suffered defeat in a ninth televised title of his career to mean his own wait for big-stage glory continues.

“Joe deserved to win that,” admitted Chisnall. “It just wasn’t there tonight - I didn’t play that well but he let me in and I took my chances.

“The crowd were brilliant and I’ll be back - I’ll keep trying to win my first major and get the big trophy.”

Clayton’s defence of his Masters title saw him overcome world number one Gerwyn Price in the quarter-finals before losing out to Chisnall.

Five-time champion Van Gerwen was joined in losing at the quarter-final stage by Smith, Price and Simon Whitlock.