Rooney's defeat in decider
Darts: Fosters Duleek and District League
Carranstown player Keith Rooney came up just short in his attempts to retain his Fosters Duleek & District League Singles title when going down to Lantern Bar's Mark Clinton in the decider.
Once more Drogheda's Westcourt Hotel played host to a tournament that attracted its biggest-ever entry - 135 players - fitting as this was its first year as the Kevin Campbell Memorial Competition in memory of the league's former chairman, and founder member way back in 1975.
Prior to the start long-serving executive member Pat O'Brien and new League chairman John Andrews spoke about Kevin's long-term involvement and commitment and a minute's silence and a round of applause then took place.
Despite a huge number of players, with 14 boards in operation and a very determined and diligent committee it was not all that long before the 135 starts were whittled down to 16. At that stage Dylan Heavey, Stephen Murtagh, Damien Doyle, James Keogh, Brian Daly, Robert Smith, Chris Murray and Paddy Kavanagh - among them two former winners - all bowed out.
In the quarter-finals the beaten quartet were Mark Heavey, Karl Fox, Paul Hand and Joe Murphy, leaving only four players to contest the semis.
The first of these was between Mark Clinton (Lantern Bar, Navan) and Liam Reddan (Cottage Inn) and after a close match and some tight finishing Clinton won his way through to his first Singles final in this league, just missing a nine-dart finish along the way.
The other semi-final featured the defending champion Keith Rooney of Carranstown against Irish Youth champion Keane Barry (Greyhound) in what turned out to be a titanic match.
Barry seemed well on his way to claiming a big scalp when, with some superb finishing, he stormed into a 3-0 lead in the best of seven, but you don't win as many titles as Rooney has done over the years by just lying down and accepting defeat. Rooney battled his way back into contention with some superb throwing to tie the score at 3-3 before using his vast experience to outpoint a gallant young opponent in the final leg.
The decider certainly lived up to its billing and there wasn't much between the two players, but Clinton worked his way into a 4-3 lead before clinching the title convincingly in the final leg. Rooney had some good chances along the way, but finishing and doubles let him down somewhat.
Overall, it was a superb occasion to mark the sad passing of the league's former chairman. Afterwards, committee members made the various presentations, with prize-money down to the last 16, and Kevin's wife Isma and family were there to help present a new perpetual trophy to the winner.
In the Plate competition for first-round losers, with almost 50 players taking part, Paul Madden from the Lantern Bar proved too strong in the final for the gallant runner-up Sean Callaghan from the Thatch Bar in Drogheda.
The Youths competition was again won by Aidan Keogh from Ashbourne, with Conor Dogget from Rossin in second place.
The League Committee would also like to thank those who sponsored various board signs on the day, and also those who helped with spot prizes for the local charity raffle, and especially the hard-working voluntary committee members and club helpers who helped set up all the gear required for this huge event - and take it down again afterwards.
•The League Doubles Completion takes place on Sunday March 3rd in the Westcourt Hotel. Registration on the day is from noon to 1.30pm and the start time 2pm and the entry deadline is Thursday February 28th, with the draw that night in the Carranstown Lodge, Duleek, at 8.30pm.
Plenty of help will be required again, also spot prizes for round two of the local charity raffle. Further info is available from any committee member.
Tom Grimes Cup q-finals: Thatch A 7, Pheasant 4; Carranstown B 4, Sally Inn A 7; Lantern Bar 7, Boyne Valley 6; Carranstown A 7, Maguires A 0.
John Speedy Heavey Cup q-finals: Valley Inn 10, Maguires B 3; Foxs 5, Lynchs 8; Black/White Thatch 0, Alverno 7; Mariner B 4, Thatch D 9.