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Historic Leinster crown for Wicklow darts team


The victorious Wicklow darts team after their Leinster final victory last weekend

The victorious Wicklow darts team after their Leinster final victory last weekend

The victorious Wicklow darts team after their Leinster final victory last weekend

Three days out from tying the knot, Wicklow darts manager, Mick Lott, has said that winning the Leister Championship at the weekend was 'the perfect wedding present', and that they will be a team to be feared at the All-Ireland Championship in two weeks' time.

Wicklow - captained by Trevor Doyle, who has part of the Rathnew team that won the Leinster Club Football Championship in 2001 - won their first ever darts major on Sunday evening, when they beat Wexford 7-6 at the end pf a 13-set thriller of a final in the Red Cow; TJ Carter throwing the championship winning dart.

It was the second consecutive year in which Wicklow made it to the final, having been beaten by reigning All-Ireland champions Meath last time out. Along the way to history on Sunday, Wicklow recorded wins over Offaly (7-0) and Kilkenny (7-2) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, before toppling Wexford - who had beaten them on two previous occasions under Lott - in the finale.

Speaking to the Bray People, Lott - who marries his partner, Stacey, on Saturday - said that he was delighted by the performance of his team who had dedicated the competition to him as a wedding gift.

'It was amazing. We had lads in their 50s on our team, to a 15-year-old. Sean Cummins, a 15-year-old from Roundwood. He is the number one youth in Ireland this year. We brought him up to play on the first team. We have had lads there for years that just have not been ready for that level. Martin O'Connor has been there for 25 years. Wicklow played in an All-Ireland final in 2000, and Martin was part of that team.

'I think it showed us that we can do it. Meath beat us last year when we had one dart to beat them. There is an old saying: 'You have to lose one, to win one,' and I think we lost one last year and that was our motivation for the final. We have been here before. We came very close last year. We have a little bit of a stronger team this year. We know what we have to do. I was delighted with the lads, I couldn't have asked for more.

'The lads said to me beforehand, 'look, this is for you; we are going to give you an early wedding present.' It was funny, all week. I would be on the phone to my captain and a few of the other players, and every time I got off the phone, my partner, Stacey, said to me, 'was that the hotel? Was that the flowers?', and I was like, 'no, that was one of the darts lads.' I was not ringing who I should have been ringing.'

Lott admitted that a perceived over-indulgence in the festivities of the Leinster and All-Ireland Championships may have had a role in holding them back from winning more titles over the years. He said that he wanted to instil more of a sense of discipline among the group, and that that played a key role in their success.

'We had a team meeting (Sunday morning), and I ironed it out. I said, 'look, lads, this is going to be a long day; our first game was at 11am, the final did not finish until 1.30am.

'That is a phenomenal day. I know that darts isn't categorised as a sport, but it is to us and to win a game over that length of a day - Super Bowl, golf; nothing goes on that long. To focus for that amount of time, I think, says a lot about the team and what we have put into it

'I had a lot of faith in my team. Usually, I am the opposite; I am usually trying to play it down. Yesterday, I took a different approach. My approach was that we were the best team on paper, and if we produce our darts, we can do it.'

While Lott now has the small matter of getting married to look forward to, there is no rest for the weary.

In two weeks' time, Wicklow travel to Ennis for the All-Ireland Darts Championships, and Lott believes that, now that they have sealed their first provincial title, they will be a team to feared.

'I am going to look forward to the wedding, but there is no rest; we are back out in a fortnight's time, then, for the All-Irelands in Ennis.

'It will be a two-day tournament, it will be slightly different, but we are a team to be feared now. I don't think anybody will want to draw us. We are going to be the team that every other team will want to avoid.'

Wicklow panel: Trevor Doyle (captain), Karl Kelly, Pat Murphy, Joe Fagan, Robbie Smith, James O'Toole, Glenn Fitzpatrick, Martin O'Connor, Peter White, Darrell Murphy, David Peacocke, Martin Fortune, Liam Burke, Sean Cummins, Jason Giffney, TJ Carter, Neville Doyle, Shane Byrne. Manager: Mick Lott

Bray People