European Police Coarse Angling Championships Holland September 2011
The Garda Siochana Maver backed Coarse Angling team from Ireland after weeks of dedicated preparation, finally departed for Holland on the 25th August 2011 to compete in the 15th European Police championships.
Final practice sessions behind us on the brilliant Newry Canal assisted by Loughs Agency officer Gerry Mills, we felt a degree of confidence that the outstanding achievement of winning at Makinís in 2010 could possibly be matched.
Three volunteers were nominated to embark on the advance journey by road on the 25th August through Rosslare and Cherbourg with the massive selection of kit and copious quantities of bait kindly supplied by Irish Angling services. On Sunday 28th August they were joined on the Angling stretch at Staadskanal, Gronigen, Holland by the five remaining team members travelling by plane through Eindhoven airport.
Four days of practice started immediately with everyone experiencing instantly the cold reality of the difficulty of our task on massively technical water where it looked like the local teams would have disproportionate advantage.
Every line was examined, tried and tested, every species specifically targeted, with every allowable live bait, with every available Groundbait and Groundbait combination including molehill soil before our strategy was finally agreed, on opening ceremony day Thurs 1st September.
Part of the impeccable organisation by the Dutch police Federation of this now very prestigious European event with 25 teams of five participating on this occasion was the push of a button computer draw at 7pm on the 1st September.
Keith Coleman recently returned from duty in Cyprus generously took charge of logistics and ensuring that each Irish competitor was at his peg replete with refreshments bait and tackle on day one of the event at 7am on the 2nd September 2011.
The practice was complete and the team tactics had painstakingly been explained and engraved on the mind of each Ireland team member along with our reserve John Nee and our guest Peter Walsh both competing with a reserve European mixed team.
We understandably felt apprehensive but fully confident that we could return a massive performance even in the face of stiff Dutch opposition and the ever present threat from a number of England teams, immensely strong by tradition.
The target for all our team members was to maximise our fish return by tackling three lines, one at the margins with whips for very small roach and Rudd, a second line at the drop off at 9 metres and finally a long line at 13 metres where we laid down an initial worm and caster offering in soil and black Groundbait mix.
White pinkie was to be the main hook bait on all lines and if bonus fish were detected on the long line hook size of mostly 20s and 18 would be replaced by ready rigs capable of dealing with bonus fish using white maggot white pinkie or small red worm.
The result at the end of the first days match was testament to how we got the tactics right and how our competitors executed them, with all team members scoring in the top ten of their respective twenty five man sections, a truly remarkable result. Following the scales it was heartening to see the brilliant points with much larger numbers of small fish coming from the Ireland team anglers in the difficult dire draws that were the lot of at least three of our anglers. The points total announced at 6pm promptly showed that the Ireland team of five with 41 points were topped only by England with 37 points.
It was at that point that the Ireland team captain and team members became fully confident that we could repeat the result of 2010 and win this event.
Despite a member of our team Donnacha Maguire holding down 3rd place on day one with almost 4 kgs on the pole, team tactics demanded that a similar approach to day one be executed precisely.
With most of our team on Rod and line discipline for the second day the ever present threat of a blank was obliterated early on, following the hooter at 11am on the 3rd September on what was to be a historic day for Irish Police angling.
The team members following tactics all netted early fish from an inside line on Waggler and set out then to maximise team points on a variation of far margin and against the far ledge tactics on the feeder.
The plan worked to perfection with a massive 36 points being returned from our five man Irish team of Richard Caplice Ernie Henderson Shane Dunne Eamonn Bracken and Donnacha Maguire who did himself proud by following up his first day third with an even better second points weight of 7.602 kgs.
It would take some three hours before we learned for sure that Ireland had indeed again overhauled England on day two as in Makins in 2010 and in just as impressive a fashion. The final points tally was announced at the huge banquet attended by 250 people and showed a staggering winning margin from a first day deficit of 4 points to a win by 16 points a turnaround of twenty points on arch rivals England. The results were called Third Germany on 103 points, Second England on 93 points and First Ireland on 77 points.
The Ireland team proudly accepted the large winnerís trophy and five team goldís to a standing ovation from the other assembled competitors.
Eamonn Bracken and Donnacha Maguire from the Maver Ireland Garda team were then presented with substantial prizes for individual placingís in the top twenty with Donnacha Maguire receiving a top of the range Sensas pole finishing in a tormenting 4th place.
Our guest Peter Walsh from two big fish draws really brought home the goods with a magnificent 3points on day one and an even better two points on day two and a total of 10.413 kgs. Peter had two brilliant top shelf performances akin to what he had done all week in practice and while fishing on a mixed team he secured 3rd place overall and bagged himself a fantastic trophy and a D.36 Rive seat box with all its accessories(worth Ä1000), a truly super prize.
The top teams from twenty five competing were as follows.
1st Ireland 77 points.
2nd England 93 points.
3rd Germany 103 points.
4th Hungary 130 points.
5th Holland 148 points.
The Ireland squad of Richard Caplice, Ernie Henderson, Eamonn Bracken, Shane Dunne and Donnacha maguire assisted by John Nee reserve, Keith Coleman Reserve/Logistics and Peter Walsh guest did themselves proud once more and were a credit on and off the venue.
The entire squad must be applauded and congratulated, as to compete internationally is difficult and arduous but to do so successfully takes a special measure of dedication from all concerned especially on a foreign venue where no local assistance could be availed of.
I would like to extend our thanks to the many people who made this trip and victory possible.
To Phil Briscoe at Maver UK for his continued sponsored assistance with tackle and clothing.
It must be noted also that this company has a similar sponsorship arrangement with another team in the event and that is the Maver England National team, runners up on the last two occasions to Maver Team Ireland.
To Eugene Jackson and staff at Ford Finglas for your very generous transport sponsorship.
To Peter Nicholson at Irish Angling services for providing excellent winning formula live bait.
To Colm Lynch at East Coast Angling for his assistance with Groundbait.
To Coiste Siamsa for financial support and also to St Pauls credit union for their help in some way towards the massive personal costs to the travelling team members and support group.
To Peter and Niall Walsh at IDAS and to Baumann Tackle in Stillorgan for your kind assistance also.
To all of our friends and supporters in the IADA the NCFFI and our local clubs who were rooting for us at home and who sent warm words of congratulations after the event.
As on other occasions an Irish team yet again proved that winning and performing well at the highest level is not any fluke or stroke of luck if the pride, dedication, formula and procedure is right.
No team since Germany in 2007 has won on home soil and this is now the even greater challenge facing Maver Garda Team Ireland in 2012 when the event is being hosted by An Garda Siochana on the wonderful Lough Muckno in Castleblaney co Monaghan.
At the closing ceremony in Holland we officially extended a warm Irish welcome to all the participating teams, to Ireland the home of Coarse Angling in 2012.
My warmest congratulations and thanks to all who made this result possible.