THE rising darts star Keane Barry, from Duleek, Co. Meath, is only 18 but he’s moving up through the ranks in his sport at lightning speed.
This month, he will make his second appearance in the PDC World Championship, which starts on Tuesday, December 15 at north London’s Alexandra Palace.
To put it into context, Phil Taylor – the game’s most successful ever player, with 16 world titles – played in his first world championship at 29.
After 12 months in which he has won the British Darts Organisation’s World Youth Championship, the Junior Darts Corporation’s World Championship and earned himself a professional tour card for the main circuit, Barry feels like he is on the right track to achieving his dreams.
Last year at the World Championship he faced Holland’s Vincent van der Voort in the first round, losing 3-0.
But the experience was one which he cherished and strongly believes it will leave him in better shape to compete this time round as he gets ready to face Canada's Jeff Smith in the first round.
“There were a lot of Irish there,” Barry told The Irish Post.
“They travelled over. It was great craic. Lots of the lads watched me from home as well.
“Now that I’ve experienced playing at Alexandra Palace, I’m hoping that leaves me in good stead for this year. As I know what to expect and I’m more confident in my own game.”
Confident he certainly should be.
As mentioned, in September, after years of hard work on the board – since he started playing with his father at the age of four - Barry gained a professional tour card, meaning he will now have a chance to compete against the best players on a regular basis.
The feat feels like some justification.
It was also particularly impressive considering the resilience he showed following on from coming so close at the gruelling qualifying school in January, where he lost to two-time world champion, Scott Waites in the final.
“To be honest with you, if you’re a darts player, the Q-School is not the place you’d want to go to,” said Barry.
“It’s so tough. With the 500 strong players that are there, only a handful are given cards. When I got to the final in January, it was very disappointing to lose.
“But now I think it was a blessing in disguise because of what happened with Covid. At least next year, the calendar will look more normal and I will actually get to play tournaments.
“That’s what I’m really looking forward to.”
At such a young age, Barry seems to be taking everything in his stride and is enjoying the increased exposure which has come from his success.
The support from the 4,000 people in his hometown, Duleek, is something he hopes can help him replicate the achievements of his heroes Taylor and two-time world champion Adrian Lewis.
“Everyone in the village kind of knows me,” said Barry.
“I get great support. People stop me in the street and ask me how I’m getting on.
“It’s amazing. Like, I know for a fact that when I’m playing in the World Championship, they’ll be all watching it on TV.”
“In the future, I want to be world champion. If I keep improving year by year, I think I can get there.”
Live coverage of the World Darts Championship runs from December 15 until January 4 on Sky Sports Darts.