Willie O'Connor says Steve Lennon has a 'massive future' in darts
O'Connor: "Once Steve starts winning tournaments, Steve will keep winning tournaments"
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 13/06/19 3:09pm
Speaking on the Darts Show Podcast, World Cup sensation Willie O'Connor has predicted big things for Ireland team-mate Steve Lennon.
The Irish duo were perhaps the story of the weekend in Hamburg, despite valiantly falling to Scotland in the decider. Unfancied from the outset, O'Connor and Lennon caused shock after shock, and looked like they were right at home mixing it with the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross.
"Steve threw absolutely out of his skin," said Limerick native O'Connor.
"Steve is a young darts player and he has a massive, massive future ahead of him. He has so much potential. He hasn't got close to what he's going to do yet, but [he will] in a couple of years' time.
"Steve will go a long, long way. Those big finishes at the right time against the Dutch, Michael van Gerwen and Jermaine Wattimena, were huge.
"I felt brilliant just standing there looking at him! 'Good man Steve, good man! Do it again!'"
The camaraderie between the two was clear to see, as they thrived under the team format.
"We try to do everything as a team," explained the 'Magpie'. "We travel, sit together every week. We're there to support each other. I'm not sure if every team is the same [as us]. We support each other every day, every week. We're there as a team from start to finish."
And while Lennon has enjoyed a breakthrough 2019 to date, having been included as a contender in the Premier League, O'Connor feels it's just the tip of the iceberg:
"Steve has been throwing awesome darts for the last couple of years. Once Steve starts winning tournaments, Steve will keep winning tournaments."
As for O'Connor, the achievements of the last week will only stand to him in the coming years.
"It's going to take a couple of years to sink in," he laughed.
"[Taking it game by game] was the approach of the whole tournament. I tried to tell Steve, no matter who we play we'll be underdogs. But we said 'if we're going to go out in this tournament, whoever beats us is going to earn it. We're going to go up there, do ourselves proud, do Ireland proud and play to our potential'.
"That's what we tried to do, that's the mentality we had for the whole tournament. It did is good. It got us to where we got.
"It's going to take a couple of years to sink in."
O'Connor still quite can't believe what they achieved
"We know we can play darts. The [opposition] know we can play darts as well. That showed. Probably because the format is so short as well, every team we play know we can play, and that we can go in and compete with the best teams in the world."
After backing up his Players Championship 13 title with the World Cup run, the Irishman, ranked 47th on the PDC Order of Merit, is confident that he can use this as a springboard for the remainder of the year:
"I feel a bit of form coming on. I've a bit more in the tank as well.
"At the start of the year, I didn't have many big targets. I wanted to stay in the top 64 in the world.
"I just wanted to make the World Championships, maybe get to the Grand Slam as well. I've got that big win under the belt, and I've got a few other things. So now that I know that I can do it, I've got all the confidence in the world at the minute."
"I've got all the confidence in the world at the minute."
O'Connor is hoping to kick on
A full-time carpenter by trade, he faces a big decision in the coming weeks and months.
"I'm going to put that extra bit of time in[to darts]," he vowed. "I'm going to have a chat and see what the story is with my work situation. I might do the whole 'professional' thing.
"When things start going good, you have to take it head-on. It's not going to stay there forever. The form is good and I know I can improve a bit, maybe I should put in that extra time and effort and see where it takes me.
"When I got to the final of the World Cup, it does hammer home the reality, 'look you can do it, go do it'. Strike while the iron is hot.
"It'll pass you by if you don't. I'm going to have a good think about it over the next few weeks, and see if I can do it."