where are they now?
Published 05/12/2010 | 05:00
JOHN JOE O'SHEA
(Former darts player)
For over two decades darts player John Joe O'Shea represented Ireland on the international stage. He played against Phil Taylor and was once ranked number 16 in the world.
O'Shea started playing darts in a pub in Cork where a few of his friends threw regularly and it wasn't long before he too took to the game.
"It was all a bit of a lucky stroke really. After a few years of playing, I was county champion and then I progressed on to the Irish team. It was unexpected," he recalls.
Over the years his career went from strength to strength. He was one of the elite band of Irish players to win the éire Division of the News of the World Championship on two occasions.
He won his first title in Connolly Hall, Cork, in 1983 and completed the double at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, Dublin, in 1987.
Along with his national success, he excelled internationally as well. He represented Ireland for 21 years, and this meant that he held a top-four ranking in the country's standings and was part of a four-man Irish team. He played in World Cups and European Championships but back then the game was a lot different to how it is now.
"When I was playing at the top level, the money wasn't in it. There is a lot of it in the game now. I guess I was born a little bit too early! But I still enjoyed representing Ireland -- it was an honour.
"I got to play with some great players. Eric Bristow was my favourite; he was a god in my eyes and I got to play with him. I also played with the likes of Phil Taylor, John Lowe and Jockey Wilson. We had some good old sessions; it was a very enjoyable time.
"You need plenty of nerve when you are playing these guys, you need no feeling in the body and you can't take any notice of the way the crowd reacts to you. You have to switch off and if your game is right, it is right."
O'Shea still plays locally in Bandon, the place where he started playing back in 1975 but an injured shoulder prevents him from competing as much as he'd like to. He works in road maintenance for Mid-Cork Quarries.