Our reporter Gavin Mc Stay talks all things Irish darts as well as interviewing Irish darting star Brendan Dolan
Darts in Ireland are at an all-time high. There are as many as 40 Irish dart players who travel to England most weekends to play in darting events. These Irish hopefuls are hoping to gain experience in the professional world of darts. There are two tours which they play on. The Development Tour is for young players aged 16-23 and then there is the main tour known as the Pro Tour for players who have gained a tour card. Tour cards are given to the top 64 players in the world based on the Professional Darts Corporation’s Order of Merit. Tour cards are also given to the top 14 players from Q-School which takes place every January. A tour card enables players to play in all Pro Tour events and it is valid for two years.
Brendan Dolan has been a professional since 2003 and is the most experienced Irish darts player that has ever played on the PDC circuit. Dolan is largely famous for being the first person to hit a televised nine-darter in a double in- double-out leg. A nine-dart leg is the fewest amount of darts that it takes to complete a leg. It’s regarded as one of the sport’s most difficult achievements as it takes precise accuracy to hit the required segments on the dartboard. Dolan’s other major achievements include winning Players’ Championships and he also reached the final of the World Grand Prix only to be defeated by, the greatest dart player of all time, Phil Taylor.
Dolan believes the rise in darts in Ireland was due to the economic decline around 15 years ago. “For many years previous, many pubs and hotels wouldn’t entertain people wanting to play darts but with the decline in the economy, pubs and hotels looked to get people in the doors in whatever way possible, so that they could survive.” Naturally, this led to more tournaments being held which meant an increase in the number of players and the standard of darts rose very quickly. Since Dolan began playing darts, there is far more tournaments being held around Ireland every weekend. The prospect of winning money shows how competitive the local and national darts scenes are.
The national darts scene has risen over the last few years. The Irish National Darts Organisation (INDO) are the head body for darts in Ireland. They host darting weekends every month. These weekends consist of two single-player events; one on Saturday evening and one on Sunday afternoon. These events attract over 200 players, both men and women. There is also a youth’s event on Saturday afternoon. Each player competes for ranking points, these points are used to determine who represents Ireland at international events. The top five men, top three women, top four boys and top two girls will qualify to represent their country.
The local darts scene is the most important as they provide local events, which encourage new players to start playing darts. These players will get better as time goes on and the more they practice, the better the reward. Each county in Ireland has their own county set-up. These players each vie for places on the county team. These players will compete in their respective provincial championship as well as the All Irelands.
Darts is at an all-time high in Ireland and Brendan Dolan feels that within the next 10 years there’ll be an Irish world champion. “With the high standard of darts in Ireland, there’s a high possibility of an Irish world champion, and don’t forget there’s still time for me to do it yet.”