It was ironic that on the weekend where Ireland’s World Cup Finalists in Women’s Hockey were back on home soil for the first time in ten months that another Irish team was emulating their achievement on the global stage of their sport.
The excitement and popular acclaim generated by the Hockey march to glory last August may not have quite been matched by the Irish Darts team but in many ways, the achievement was just as impressive.
Steve Lennon from Carlow and Willie O’Connor from Limerick went into the tournament every bit as much the underdogs as the Hockey stars but in beating the favourites England and the Netherlands team including multiple World Champion Michael Van Gerwen they could be said to have achieved even more.
In the end, they fell to Scotland in the World Cup Final but getting there was something beyond their wildest dreams at the outset.
The tournament was covered live and in full by Sky Sports throughout the weekend though with so much action taking place in international Football, the GAA, The FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U20’s Rugby World Cup and the Hockey Olympic Qualifiers it was only in the final stages that the achievement managed to break through in terms of coverage.
Ireland’s team sponsor was the Harp Bar in Cork City, a central gathering point for the sport in the South West but perhaps not quite in the same commercial league as the partners of Ireland’s other winning teams.
There has not been any talk yet of a homecoming parade and close of streets in any of Ireland’s major population centres, and no homecoming party at the airport with Ministers and Media on high alert.
Indeed Darts is not recognised formally as a sport through Sport Ireland and is run very much at local level around the country.
It is still worth hailing the achievement of the lads though and marking their achievement. As a crossover between sport and entertainment Darts has long been ahead of the game. For Ireland to have achieved such a level of performance against the best in the world is worthy of acclaim.