AN ATHERTON teenager has been crowned winner of a prestigious junior darts competition just two years after starting the sport.

After swapping football for the darts board, Joe Westby has been picking up a number of impressive victories on the youth darts circuit in recent years.

Showcasing himself as one to watch, the Astley St Mary's pupil followed in the footsteps of Luke Littler to win the JDC Super 16 competition on Sunday, February 4.

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Leigh Journal: Joe has cemented himself as one to watchJoe has cemented himself as one to watch (Image: Taylor Lanning/PDC)
The 14-year-old was actually scheduled to play Littler, a two-time winner of the competition, in the final of the Super 16, but he dropped out after his World Championship heroics and Premier League fixtures.

This meant that Joe was up against Littler's defeated semi-finalist, Cayden Smith, at the Milton Keynes final over the weekend.

Playing in front of a crowd of around 1,500 before the adult masters tournament, Joe kept his cool to open up a 4-0 lead in the Super 16 final.

Although 16-year-old Smith won two legs back, the Atherton youngster sealed victory by landing his fourth 180 of the game to win five sets to two.

Leigh Journal: Joe won the final with an impressive five sets to twoJoe won the final with an impressive five sets to two (Image: Gareth Westby)
Speaking to the Journal about Joe's victory, his dad Gareth said: "I was a bag of nerves to be honest, but Joe's professionalism is amazing. He was always in control so he allowed himself to enjoy the experience.

"He only started playing about two years ago, and even gave up football to focus on darts. He trains three hours every night and to win the Super 16 is unbelievable, it shows that all his hard work has paid off."

Speaking to the PDC after the event, Joe added: "To have my name on the same trophy as Keane Barry and Luke Littler is phenomenal, it's amazing."

Paying homage to Joe's Blackburn Academy coach Kieth Brunt, Gareth said that there is a rapidly growing professionalism in darts at the moment, with increasing numbers of players and Academies cropping up.

And with attention on the sport growing exponentially since Littler's march to the World Championship final, Gareth said that his son is in the "right place at the right time" in terms of where he can take his ability and career.