Sixteen teams crammed into the Hill Valley for the biggest darting event in the Shropshire calendar as the fifth Shropshire County Cup took place last Saturday.

Teams from as far away as Cleobury Mortimer and Craven Arms were present alongside the big guns of Shrewsbury, Telford and Oswestry.

Expectations were high for hosts and dark horses Whitchurch as all teams were drawn into four groups of four, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the quarter finals.

Near neighbours and old adversaries Wem provided the first opposition for Whitchurch in Group A with Andy Evans putting Whitchurch one up.

Wem hit back taking the next two singles to lead 2-1 but that was as good as it got for Wem as Nigel Neale and Keith Allman regained the lead for Whitchurch before Phil Wragg wrapped up the final singles match for the hosts.

Both pairs went the way of Whitchurch with Gary Crowther and Allman in particular combing well as Whitchurch started off with an excellent 6-2 win.

Up next were newcomers Church Stretton and despite losing the first singles 2-1, Whitchurch rallied taking the next four games with Danny Humphries pitching a maximum in a superb 14 dart leg.

Church Stretton took the final singles match to trail 4-2 going into the final two pairs matches which both went the way of Whitchurch in the deciding third leg.

Debutant, Keith Jones and Rowan Price securing the key first pairs before Gary Crowther put the seal on another excellent victory with a brilliant 132 checkout as Whitchurch took the second match 6-2 to guarantee progression into the last eight.

Their final group game saw them up against two-time winners Telford, and it was Telford who started the brighter taking the first two games in the deciding third leg despite Whitchurch having darts at doubles to take both games.

A superb 158 by checkout by Keith Allman brought Whitchurch back into the match while Nigel Neale checked out on 120 in the final singles as Whitchurch trailed 4-2.

Both pairs matches went the way of Telford to ensure that Whitchurch finished a tough Group A in second place and secured a quarter-final against Rea Valley A.

Danny Humphries gave Whitchurch the perfect start defeating Montgomery and Radnor county ace Ed Price 2-1 firing back to back 14-dart legs to put the hosts one up.

Whitchurch then had opportunities in the next two games to lead 3-0 with a semi-final place within touching distance but missed doubles proved costly as momentum was lost as Rea Valley consolidated to lead 2-1 and from then on there was no way back as Rea Valley triumphed 5-1 overall to end Whitchurch’s interest in the competition.

Ironically, Bridgnorth, the team that Whitchurch had memorably defeated 5-4 in last years quarter finals, did for Rea Valley in the semi-final but Telford proved to strong in the final as they secured a third County Cup.

There were however a number of positives for a Whitchurch side, who yet again were ranked highest of all teams within North Shropshire with both Wem and Market Drayton falling at the first hurdle.

Powerhouses Shrewsbury and Oswestry fared no better than Whitchurch and another time a potential 3-0 quarter final lead could have been converted into a semifinal place.

Captain, Che Kerin would like to thank Starbrite windows for their sponsorship of the Whitchurch side as well as the team who participated this time round.