More practice for darts champ as World Championships postponed

WORLD number five and English National Champion Neil Duff from Ballyclare has said that the postponement of the World Championships at the Lakeside - due to kick off on New Years’ Day - has been a ‘body blow’.

However the construction worker has acknowledged that with the competition now off until April, he will have plenty more time to work on his techique.

Neil, known as ‘The Duffman’, finished the year as the top ranked regional player for UK and Ireland.

He was due to be the only Northern Ireland competitor to take part and recently signed a sponsorship deal with top darts brand Red Dragon.

Neil also reached the BDO World Masters Quarter Finals in 2019, before losing to eventual winner John O’Shea.

Earlier this year, Neil lifted both the British Pentathlon title and England National Singles title, as well as reaching the Semi-Final stage in the Welsh Open and Danish Masters.

Neil came to darts late in life, picking them up at the age of 30 as a way of bonding with his dad.

Almost 20 years later, he has played in Turkey, Japan and most of Europe.

He is the current Northern Ireland team captain, plays for Area 2 and for the Coach Bar in Ballymena and Whitehouse Working Mens’ Club.

“It was a body blow to hear about the World Championships being put off, I was really looking forward to it,” he said.

“We all grew up watching it at Lakeside. I’d been getting up before work at 5.30am to get some practice in.

“A lot of the events have been put back so there will be lots of big competitions in the Netherlands, Romania and Scotland all happening close together in April and June.

“During lockdown, webcam darts really took off and I took a young player Josh Rock under my wing and he is going from strength to strength.

“I guess this just gives me a few more months to perfect my technique!”

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