Jason Ryan from Newtownforbes is hoping to make an impact on the world of professional darts next year, after already becoming a regular in the Irish national team.
“I finished ninth in Ireland last year. I was even number four for a couple of months,” he said. “I made the Irish team because of that, and I was picked again this year. Making the team all depends on the amount of points you earn in tournaments. The top 15 players are picked, and the top four represent Ireland at the World Cup. We went over to England last year and played at the World Masters in Hull, which was broadcast on ESPN. I did well enough and made it through the group stages. We made it to the final of the Celtic Cup in Ennis last year, too, but we were beaten by Northern Ireland. It’s in Belfast this year, so we want to go up there and win it.”
Jason said he gets immense pride when representing his country: “It’s a great feeling when you put on the jersey. There’s nothing like it. This year we’ll be travelling to England and across to Germany and other places throughout Europe.”
Starting as a pastime, the game is something Jason now takes very seriously. “I started playing darts about 10 years ago, when I was 20. I was late getting started,” he explained. “It was just a hobby I wanted to take up. I started by practising at home and then began playing in the pub leagues around the county. I played for the Anvil in Longford town, but I’m with Kearney’s in Moydow now. I’ve been playing in the Irish ranking tournaments now for the past four years. You have to finish in the top 16 to earn points.”
His performances to date have now encouraged him to take up darts as a professional – a move which could see him playing shoulder-to-shoulder against greats like Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld. “I want to play in the PDC next year and play in the rankings there, because I need to do that if I want to turn pro,” he said. “It’s a challenge I’ve set myself, but to do it I’m going to need sponsorship as it gets costly.”
It’s not just money that’s required, either. Time and effort are an important factor, and Jason is already doing that: “You have to work hard at it. I practice for about four hours a day at home. You have to if you want to compete at that level.”