Leeside Legends: Steve Coveney blazed a trail for darts in Cork

Leeside Legends: Steve Coveney blazed a trail for darts in Cork

Steve Coveney, proved his quality as a darts player when he became the first player to retain the Irish Masters title in 1985.

DARTS is one of the country’s most popular indoor sports and for Corkman Steve Coveney, his record in the sport over the past 36 years has made him a household name in his beloved city.

Born in 1959, Coveney wasreared on Cork’s northside and it was through encouragement from his friend Sean Leahy that he decided to take up darts in 1979.

Coveney began playing darts with the Boothouse Bar and it was to be the beginning of a very successful career in the sport.

Coveney won his first singles tournament in 1982 and a year later he was crowned the Benson and Hedges Munster Singles champion.

The list of Coveney’s achievements in the years that followed is mind-boggling as he won the Cork Murphy’s Irish Stout Singles tournament in 1986, ’89,’90,’93, ’95, ’96, and 1997.

There were more individual successes in the noughties as he added another eight titles from 2002, coupled with three Beamish doubles championships.

Steve also won seven Cork Summer Singles titles — a record that has never been equalled.

When a player dominates their own city’s darts tournaments, there is only one way to find out how good they really are and for many years Coveney was determined to mix it with the best against the best players in the country.

In 1985 and 1986 Coveney became the first player to retain the Irish Masters titles a feat he is very proud of and he was also selected to play with Ireland against all the Home countries during his career.

Steve also has the distinction of reaching the last 32 of the World Masters in London where he lost to the eventual winner Dave Whitcombe of England.

Coveney was a leading figure in the Con O’Donovan’s team that set a record when completing a five-in-a-row in the prestigious Smithwick’s Cup.

That record was regarded as a major achievement as this competition was considered as the toughest team competition in Cork darts.

Steve pointed to John Buckley as possibly the best player that he saw playing darts in Cork, making the point that despite his outstanding talent, he was always gracious in defeat.

The talent of John O’Shea also came in for praise as his fellow Leesider won the World Masters in 2020.

“To be honest, one would have to feel for John as he had just won the World title and the pandemic hit us, but if things get back to normal, I am sure he will bag some more titles.”

The names of famous dart players like Eric Bristow, Bobby George. and Cliff Lazarenko were all well-known on the British professional circuit, and all lost to Coveney during exhibition games in Cork over the years.

According to Coveney, darts is a very skillful sport, one that requires serious practice to stay on top of your game.

“To get to the top in darts you have to practice regularly because the days for turning up on Monday night and playing with your local team is now well and truly gone,” said Coveney.

“The majority of the top players have a dartboard at home and consistently practice every night.”

Darts is no longer a minority sport, according to Coveney.

“There is a huge following for the sport all over the world and that’s justified by the viewing figures from Sky for the World Championships.”

Indeed, Coveney feels the money in darts in the UK will entice some Irish players to play professionally.

“There is money to be made now and I am sure some quality players in Ireland will move sticks as there are plenty of competitions in England that could make you decent money if you were good enough to mix it with the best.”

Martin Dineen and Stephen Coveney.
Martin Dineen and Stephen Coveney.

Steve lives in Parklands with wife Ellen and they have four daughters Sarah, Laura, Megan, and Chloe.

Coveney retired from competitive darts in 2018 as he felt he had achieved everything he set out to do over four decades.

“I always said I would retire at the top as there was nothing left for me to win, but I still enjoy a Friday night in the Joshua Tree having a game with the lads.”

To win individual championships over four decades is testament to the brilliance Coveney brought to the sport as his winning mentality ensured he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.


Coveney was the first player to retain the Irish Masters in 1985 and 1986.

He is the holder of 12 Individual dart titles in Cork.

Steve was an integral player part of the Con O’Donovan’s team that won five consecutive Smithwick’s Cup titles which was the Premier team darts competition in Cork.

Coveney defeated professional players like former greats Eric Bristow, Cliff Lazarenko and Bobby George in exhibition games in Cork.

Coveney retired from competitive darts in 2018 after playing at the top level for 36 years.

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