Mick makes history with a perfect nine dart finish
A BALBRIGGAN champion darts player has become only the third Irishman in the 500 year history of darts in the Republic to score a perfect nine dart 501.Mick McGowan, from Chapel Close in the North Fingal town, scored the pinpoint accurate 501 at the Kilkenny All-Ireland Open Singles Championship recently. His impressive nine dart score was 177, 180 and 144 (60-60-24).T
A BALBRIGGAN champion darts player has become only the third Irishman in the 500 year history of darts in the Republic to score a perfect nine dart 501.
Mick McGowan, from Chapel Close in the North Fingal town, scored the pinpoint accurate 501 at the Kilkenny All-Ireland Open Singles Championship recently. His impressive nine dart score was 177, 180 and 144 (60-60-24).
‘The first darts were two treble 20s and a treble 19, then it was three treble 20s and the final three dart score was two treble 20s and a double 12,’ explained 30-year-old Mick. However, he admitted it wasn’t until he went for the double 12 that he realised he had a shot at the nine dart 501.
‘It was a very tight match. I was leading 2 - 1 up and was just concentrating on winning the leg, which was very tight. When I had 144 left on the board my opponent only had 115 so I was focused on beating him.
’Actually it was a terrific match, I won that leg and eventually won 4 - 1. There were eight scores of 180 in the game which just goes to show how close it was. I was eventually beaten in the semi-finals of the championship.’
The Louth/North County Dublin area of the country has a rich darts history with many great local players, John Burke, Anto McCracken, Steve McDonnell and Eoin Caffrey, to name but a few current internationals.
For the benefit of darts historians Mick McGowan is only the third Republic of Ireland person to score a perfect game of 501 in Ireland, since darts originated over 500 years ago. Rush native Eugene ‘Dudger’ Byrne and Louth man Steve McDonnell are the other two.
‘It’s great to score the nine dart 501 but I suppose I’m still quite young in darts terms, even though there’s a lot more young talent out there than there used to be. I’m capable of improving and getting a lot better. Hopefully there’s another nine dart 501 in me.’
A native of Duleek in Co Louth, Mick has played darts for 18 years picking up a dart for the first time at the tender age of 12 years. It was the individual aspect of the game which attracted him first.
‘In darts you’re not dependant on a team. It’s all about the individual, it’s down to you and you alone how you perform. And performance is about practice and dedication, just like any other sport. In darts, if you concentrate and prepare well you will play well.’
Mick was the Irish Youth Darts Champion in 1989. He then graduated to the senior grade and remained in the top 20 Irish players for three years. He has represented his country in the World Darts Championships and was captain of the Irish team in Switzerland in 1995.
‘I probably practise for at least six or eight hours a week. You do have times when your performance peaks and I suppose you try and peak for the big events. Or at least that’s the plan.’
Former world darts champion, Eric Bristow, would have been a big hero of Mick’s when he was a child. Mick has actually played in Lakesides, Surrey where Bristow won many of his world titles.
‘Like everyone else, I watched the Embassy World Darts Championships on the television and tried to copy what Eric Bristow did. He’s a great player. He’s still playing, though mostly on the exhibition circuit now.’
Before his 9-dart achievement, Mick’s major achievement was in the 1996 Home International in Portrush, Northern Ireland when he was awarded the Player of the Tournament award, the only Irishman on the island of Ireland to win this coveted British Isles title.
Mick has played darts in The Milestone Inn in Balbriggan and the Horse and Jockey in Inchicore. He’s been involved with the Duleek and District Darts League, the Rush Darts League and two major Dublin superleagues. He now plays out of Whyte’s Pub in Stamullen.