Commercial Club team-mates and Louth county darts players John O’Brien and Gerry Rice travelled to Castlebar in Co Mayo to take on Ireland’s finest at the Mayo Darts Open recently.
The high standard of player was very evident with Terry McNulty from Mayo circling in his World Cup Jersey less than a month after playing in the WDF World Cup of Darts in Canada.
The competition was the first part of a weekend of darts to be held in the Welcome Inn Hotel in Castlebar.
The Louth contingent grew later in the evening when the Connolly clan arrived in the form of Dad Dermot, and the dynamic duo of Robert and Mark.
The competition got underway and despite hitting a 180 with his first three darts, John O’Brien was convincingly beaten by James Quigley from Mayo. The three and a half hour drive may have had an adverse effect on the Dundalk man.
Young guns Robert and Mark were going well but sadly Robert was another early faller while Mark made it to the last eight of the competition.
This left Gerry Rice as the only Louth man flying the flag in the competition and he made sure it flew high right up to the final.
Gerry faced the provisional Irish no 1 Glenn Spearing from Dublin in the final. Glenn has represented Ireland on many occasions and seemed to have nerves of steel as he quickly took control and went into a 1-0 lead in this best of 11 game.
It was then that the ‘Quiet Man’ began the fight back.
Rice claimed the next leg, narrowly missing the bullseye for a 170 checkout.
Spearing pushed on into a 3-1 lead and the fire was lit in Rice’s mind and he reacted brilliantly pushing the game right to a 4-4 draw.
The Louth contingent, and many neutrals, were chanting Rice’s name and wishing every dart into its intended target.
Gerry pushed ahead to 5-4 and with scores of 100, 100 and 167 in the 10th leg Gerry was sitting on double 16 to win. The dart was thrown and the supporter’s jumped as it appeared to be in but sadly it sat on the wrong side of the wire.
Glen duly took his chance and levelled the game. The final leg was a tense affair but the Irish No 1 showed his experience and took the victory.
Glen Spearing paid tribute to the standard of all players on the day but most of all to Gerry and commented that he thought he had been beaten with the double 16.
Gerry received his prize and although not taking home the title, he has the satisfaction of knowing he has made another positive start for Louth darts on the national circuit.
The next day’s event was the Matthew Geraghty Memorial Darts Classic which was a recognised INDO event.
Once again the Louth contingent were in action and it was young Robert Connolly who made the headlines by reaching the semi-finals of the competition and earning himself some valuable ranking points which will help his cause in getting on to the Irish Youth darts team.
It was with some hint of disappointment but a strong sense of pride that the Louth crew headed onto the long road home to start preparing for the next onslaught on the national circuit.