TENSION and nerves mixed with jovial banter and an undercurrent of determination were just some of the emotions buzzing around the Commercial Club on Saturday as the Darts throwers of Louth and Area 7 (Newry and District) took part in the Annual Cross border challenge.
This event was introduced four years ago and has always proved to be a great success.
The C.L.D.O has been busy all throughout the summer running County trials in order to select this year's team, and once the trials were complete and the panel selected, a number of challenge matches were organised against a select team from the Drogheda Summer league and Watters in Duleek. Louth were successful in both outings and were in good form going into the event.
First in for Louth was Robert Wallace a player with great potential. Robert started slowly and was punished when Sean Devlin hit the first 180 of the day and went on to take the first leg. Robert fought back in the second but Sean kept the momentum going and finished the game out after Robert missed his double.
Sean Kavanagh, another county debutant, was in next. JabbaMax as he is affectionally known was up against a former Louth player Ollie Thompson, who boasts massive experience at county level and has crossed the border to take on a new darting challenge.
Sean started well and with the treble twenty being found regularly he took the first leg, but Ollie fought back and levelled the game. The last leg was a real dogfight with scores being matched by both men before Sean took out double ten to win the game and level the match at 1-1.
Mickey Kelly - outgoing secretary of the DDDL and an established county thrower - was in next and continued the winning way for Louth. After Mickey was another rookie Colm Boyle, who played well against Christy O'Brien hitting yet another 180 and pushing Louth further into the lead.
Team captain Owen Caffrey was up next and edged Louth further ahead with another impressive display taking out two 16 dart games. The men from across the border were 4-1 down and they weren't happy and when Hamilton Smith played Sean McMurray things didn't get any better as Louth went into a 5-1 lead needing two more games to win the event.
The Area 7 team was packed with some well known names in darting circles and they were all in the latter end of the team sheet and this attempt at a late comeback was started when Seamus Rice overcame Brian Fitzpatrick to double the score for Area 7.
Louth responded with Joey Englishby, who plays his Darts in Collon, making it 6-2 . Area 7 could only draw at this stage and they pushed for that result by winning the next three games and bringing it down to a final game decider.
In for Louth was Ray Harte, son of Kevin Harte who has worn the county jersey himself in the past and he was playing Paddy Gibney a man who has enjoyed considerable success in the Newry league.
Ray has been improving every year in the Dundalk League and he has made the step up to county darts this year. The tension was very evident in the venue as both players threw their practice darts and when the game started not a sound could be heard.
Ray started well but Paddy is always a high scorer and the game went right down to the double which Ray took out to take the lead. Paddy fought back and he was as accurate as ever on the treble twenty, but Ray was not to be moved and he matched every score and then composed himself to hit the winning double and send the Louth team into raptures.
The committee of CLDO would like to thank AREA 7 for their continued support of this event and the staff and management of the Commercial Club Dundalk who provided a great venue and provided food for the occasion.
Upcoming Events for Louth Darts: Sept 21st, Commecial Club Dundalk 4pm, Louth Youth Trial no. 4 (all youth players invited to attend); Oct 3rd, Darts Exhibition by Robbie 'Kong' Green in Foley's Bar, Drogheda.