A matter of days before a nationwide lockdown was instated, Cork Youth Darts emerged victorious at the INDO Inter-County Youths Championship.
However, the pandemic has prevented both the players and organisers of Cork Youth Darts from throwing tungsten together for almost a year.
Several young darting hopefuls have been without their sport in its true form since March, being forced to settle for playing their darts through a variety of online media from their own homes.
One of the long-time coordinators, Mark Farrell, was quick to admit how challenging the last number of months have been for kids playing competitive darts.
“It can be tough on players to have time for practice with what’s going on at present.
”There can be many distractions at home with home-schooling, siblings, parents working - every household is different.”
After a marathon of games last March, CYD emerged victorious, fending off competition from Tipperary in the final with a victory of three sets to one.
While celebrations in Ennis lasted long into the night for the Cork party, little did they know that it was the last dart that would be thrown together for quite some time.
“It was a bittersweet moment, as Cork won the All-Ireland Championship, yet it was our last gathering as a group.”
Since then, the organisers at CYD have prioritised keeping their darts players sharp by organising several online competitions over the course of the last eleven months.
Although several adaptations to new technology and strokes of ingenuity were required, darts has shone through as one of the few sports that can be played in complete safety - and practically in full effect - from home.
“Online darts is the only way to keep competitive practice going with current restrictions.
”It’s easy to set up, but as they say, if you know how.
”One device is used as a camera facing the board while a second device is used for an online darts scoring application.
”Recently, we held a league with sixteen players in a ‘round-robin’ style tournament spanning three weeks, followed by an elimination tournament.”
While the online tournaments can prove to be logistically challenging, it’s clear that Cork Youth Darts are making the best out of a bad situation, with a full return to darts looking less and less likely in the near future.
“In my opinion, darts in a public environment will be one of the last things to return to play.
“Although social distancing can be maintained, it does require moving around which is what most restrictions try to limit or prevent.
“I think it will be another while before we see darts being played in public venues again.”