This week, Neil Duff became the World darts champion, and he had two reasons to be delighted about. He became the first-ever darts player from Ireland to win the World title by winning the title, and it was his daughter’s 18th birthday. A perfect birthday present for his daughter.
“That’s my birthday present to Hayley,” said The Duffman, with Hayley in the crowd cheering him on.
“Thanks to everybody for all their support. The crowd were brilliant.
“I came here hoping to win a match and now I’m the champion.”
He had predicted earlier in the week he would win the world title as a gift for her.
Neil Duff rose to the occasion for Sunday’s showpiece, mounting an impressive comeback to win the inaugural WDF World Championship and pocket a 50,000 pounds winners cheque.
However, it was actually the 32-year-old Frenchman who started the brighter of the pair, as he raced to a 2-0 lead in Surrey as Duff’s nerves began to show.
Tricole took the lead after landing a double four in the first leg before clinching the second with a finish of 41.
Duff regained his composure to take the third leg before Tricole then battled back to take a 3-1 lead – Duff missing a crucial 93 checkout to level the scores.
The Northern Irishman eventually did claw it back to 3-2 after a comfortable 80 checkout, and he carried that momentum with him into the sixth set, which he this time won with an 81 checkout to level the score at 3-3.
With the tides beginning to turn, Duff won a third successive leg to take a 4-3 lead in the match, landing a D17 to go ahead.
Despite the pressure mounting from Duff’s comeback, Tricole put on an eighth clinical set, landing a neat D20 to level the scores up at 4-4 and set up a dramatic finale.
Tricole stormed into the lead in the ninth set as it looked like the Frenchman would go one away from winning the tournament, but Duff rallied to turn the set around from 2-0 down, with the 49-year-old landing two 180s en route to taking a 5-4 lead in the clash.
The Ballyclare joiner, who has worked on building sites since he was 15, said the success was “life-changing”.
“I am over the moon, and so is Hayley and my wife Erin,” he said.
“We are planning a family holiday now, our first proper one since 2016.
“It will be Mexico, as that’s where Hayley said she wanted to go.
“I have been working on building sites from the age of 15. That’s hopefully the building career finished.
“The 50,000 pounds prize money is massive for me and sets me up for the next 12 months. There is more to be made as world champion with tour events and exhibitions etc.
“The next year could be my retirement fund.”