Young Co Antrim darts players to represent NI at World Cup

A group of young darts players from Co Antrim will represent Northern Ireland in the Junior Darts Corporation World Cup later this year.
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Ryan Fowles, Craig Murtagh, Ollie Armstrong and Jacob Todd, who are all members of Carrickfergus Junior Darts Academy, will make up the Northern Ireland team at the tournament in Gibraltar at the end of November.

The teenagers, who attend Carrickfergus Academy, Larne High, Cambridge House and Grosvenor Grammar School respectively, will participate individually in the WDF Gibraltar Youth Open, the JDC Gibraltar Championship, the Michael van Gerwen Masters and the JDC World Championships, before playing in the JDC World Cup Team event.

A total of 21 nations will compete at the World Cup Team event and nearly 200 young players will be involved during the week of competitive darts.

Gregg pictured with Ryan Fowles, Craig Murtagh, Ollie Armstrong and Jacob Todd. (Contributed).Gregg pictured with Ryan Fowles, Craig Murtagh, Ollie Armstrong and Jacob Todd. (Contributed).
Gregg pictured with Ryan Fowles, Craig Murtagh, Ollie Armstrong and Jacob Todd. (Contributed).

This year will be the third time Northern Ireland has appeared at the event.

The boys will be managed by Gregg Fowles, the founder of the Carrickfergus Junior Darts Academy, the only Junior Darts Corporation Academy in Northern Ireland.

Gregg explained: “There will be three days of straight knockout singles events. The JDC World championships involve groups then into knockout stage.

"At last year’s championships, Craig qualified out of his group and was very unlucky not to win his knockout match. He was the first player from Northern Ireland to achieve this, we hope he will not be the last.

"Team Northern Ireland have yet to achieve a World Cup win. We have came extremely close, especially at last year’s championships. We ran Gibraltar close, gave Holland a scare and gave Australia and Italy a run for their money.

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"Competition is highly contested and the quality on show is unbelievable. There will be future professional darts players coming through the JDC system, the fact is that there are players on the pro scene already.

"I have a great feeling about the 2023 NI team. They are more experienced, have more competitive darts beind them and they’re a great group to be around.

"With that bit of luck, they more than deserve, I feel the boys can pick up Northern Ireland's first ever World Cup points.

"Each Northern Ireland team that travels over is building on from the teams that have gone before.”

A number of fundraising events are being organised to help cover the costs involved in competing on the world stage, with Mr Fowles keen to thank the sponsors and generous members of the public who are backing the team.

He stated: “It costs a lot to get a team out to the World Cup. That said, it is a very worthwhile opportunity and experience, for some it is a once in a lifetime trip. Costs of flights, hotels and competition fees, it is nearly £1,000 per person.

"Around a third of our costs are covered by sponsorships. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are a major help for the Team NI boys and indeed to the CJDA.

"We’ve started staging a number of fundraising events. These are the main source of finances for the trip. We’ve held a quiz night and a fun day. We’re holding a bingo night in the Greenisland War Memorial Sports Club in October. Details can be found on our social media platforms. We hope to run other events before November.”