It’s been over a week now since the NI Darts team managed to get back across the water from Scotland after winning the Celtic Challenge Cup in Glenrothes. What a win from the men’s team with great performances all around. Congratulations lads!
The Celtic Challenge Cup consists of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (men’s and ladies) playing each other in best of seven matches (12 matches in total against each country). The best team with most wins and/or legs won is determined the winner over the weekend.
The ladies team played well in places, but just didn’t have their double hitting boots on and faltered at the doubles when they had great chances – plenty to build on ladies. Grace Crane, Helen Dunn and Kayleigh O’Neill were outstanding at times. Beaten by Wales and Scotland but there were flashes of brilliance along the way. Onto the next one ladies.
However the men’s team played to the level we all know they can. Team captain Kyle Mckinstry was runner up in the Individuals on the Friday warm up session. Then on to the teams on Saturday where NI played Scotland First up on Saturday morning. A very tough game for the NI lads but we were well up for it. Josh Rock opened up his account with a 4-2 win on his debut, followed up by Chris Gilliland coming through a last leg decider hitting a 100 checkout after hitting a 180 to pressure Scotland’s throw. Scotland clawed the next three back to go ahead, then up stepped Daniel Mcdonald against Alan Soutar – taking his winning leg in 14 darts in style to draw NI level. For me it was the best game on Saturday. Next up Neil Duff showed his class with a 4-2 win, so now NI were ahead 4-3 overall. The Boss Ross Montgomery took out the next one to level again. Then Mckinstry and Gary Elliott showed their experience to wrap up their games convincingly leaving it to Simon Dunn in the last but Euan Callendar was too strong – so it ended 6-6 on the first day with Scotland managing to scrape a draw against us.
The lads knew they were all playing well and had plenty to go for against the Welsh team on Sunday, knowing that a good result would put the pressure on Scotland in the following match. So onto Sunday and our men’s team raced into a 5-0 lead with Duff, Coulter, Dunn, Lockhart and Gilliland racing through their games. Mike Warburton got Wales on the board for 5-1 with Kyle Mckinstry up next it looked good for NI. Kyle duly won his game 4-1 to make it 6-1 overall. Up next Jim Williams took the next for 6-2 only for Gary Elliott to win his game to win the game for NI 7-2 – but more legs were needed and Dave Finlay won the next for 8-2. Wales won the next two legs to finish up 8-4. A great result and put the pressure on Scotland to score heavy against Wales later.
It was a bridge too far for Scotland and whilst they showed promise early on, it was too much to ask as Wales seemed more upbeat in this game than against NI. Jim Williams had a great game against Ross Montgomery and sealed Scotlands fate.
Congratulations to Northern Ireland! Hearty thanks to the NIDO, Sponsors, Ballymore Inn, Indigo, Smithwicks and Stevie at Davison Coaches. The support from home and further afield has been fantastic and goes to show that NI darts is definitely on the up. We have so many many talented darters amongst us – some of the names not even at this tournament is scary! Now let’s defend this next year and support our ladies and men’s teams throughout the year. Well done everyone – managers Lorraine and Gareth are a credit to the team and the team couldn’t do it without you two. Special mention to the Ladies team who supported the men throughout – a true combined team effort. Congratulations!