European Freshwater Angling Championships 17th – 18th September 2010 Makins Fisheries Nuneaton Warwickshire.
The famous commercial Fisheries complex at Makins in the UK was the venue for the 2010 European Police Fresh Water Angling championships hosted by West Midlands Police over the weekend 17th and 18th September.
Preparation for the 7-man Ireland squad of An Garda Siochana commenced at least 4 months in advance of the event and indeed stealthily a year ago when the event venue was announced and visited by the two delegates on the European Police Angling Federation Richard Caplice and Eamonn Bracken.
At that time the expert advice and assistance of local Angling Guru and tackle dealer Stuart Killen based in Leicester was sought and was forthcoming in abundance.
This man with obvious Irish connections who readily agreed to act as the Ireland team coach has an Angling pedigree of awesome proportions having spent many years on the most famous of all England Angling squads, the legendary Barnsley Blacks and he has coached in the past alongside the Ireland Team manager Richard Caplice at successive World international Championships.
In the months preceding the event the Ireland squad manager Richard Caplice liased closely with Stu and by travel time on the 12th September our 7-man squad was primed and eager for action with a strong view, rightly held by all, that if we kept it simple and fished to our strengths we could pull off the impossible and gain a first ever nations medal for An garda Siochana the national Police force of Ireland.
Weeks of preparation including practicing the advised methods of our mentor went well and we set off for the event with some justified confidence.
The team comprised serving, retired and reserve members as follows Team manager Richard Caplice Carrickmacross, Donnacha Maguire Ballymun, Ernie Henderson Tralee, Eamonn Bracken Castleblaney Co Monaghan, John Nee Athlone and the Dunne brothers Rory and Shane from Roscommon.
Logistics manager Kieran Roche from Carrickmacross who also provided his own transport to ferry the bulk of the squad members supported this group acted throughout as helper, adviser, bank runner and was to play a vital role in our bid for some expected degree of glory.
The first day of practice commencing Monday at 7.30am on phase one of this famous fishery was devoted to a method alien to all of our angling squad, that of the method feeder and it soon became apparent to mentor Killen that we had prepared well, as he was astonished at how proficient all of our squad members were and would later say astutely, that he saw a surprise on the cards even then.
Day two on the more accustomed discipline of the long pole went equally well and confidence was building that the England view of every travelling team realistically fishing for 7th place behind their six expert squads could be dashed.
Stuart Killen was present throughout practice on both days and the squad then practiced assiduously as a determined and cohesive group alone for the remaining two days with every confidence approaching day one of the event on Friday the 17th Sept that an upset could be on the cards and An garda Siochana might spring a surprise.
Shane Dunne was delegated to do the impossible on the eve of event and draw our team ten good pegs over the two days, an act he performed with mixed success.
Advice was sought on each and every peg drawn and following a dizzying degree of information from Stu and collective input, we slept fitfully that night anticipating a battle royal on Friday morning at 9am start time.
Day one was that of the pole championship and our team turned in a masterly performance in some sections only to have the difficult draw in two other sections yield higher than expected points.
The points tally of Richard Caplice 3rd with third best weight, Rory Dunne 5th Eamonn Bracken 3rd Shane Dunne 10th and Ernie Henderson 11th gave us some justified optimism in fourth place overall and second to England on points in the nations.
Donnacha Maguire and John Nee from impossible pegs acquitted themselves well and at the after match team meeting a steely determination could be felt that we might still do it, only ten points adrift of the super, star studded team England.
Our earlier in the week success and confidence on the method feeder discipline showed when battle was joined on the second day of the event on Saturday 18th September.
Despite early setbacks on pegs drawn by E Henderson and R Caplice where no fish had been netted after two of the five hours, seasoned bank runner Kieran Roche was bringing news of great performances on all of our other pegs with a number of first places on the cards for sure.
Late on Henderson surged from near last to 1st in section and Caplice rescued some serious section points moving from 16th in section to 5th clawing back 4 points from the lead of the England National team competitor in his section who finished in 9th and Henderson with his 1st place eliminating the England lead.
More astonishing news then filtered through that our remaining team members had blitzed the entire field with Eamonn Bracken gaining a magnificent 5th place with his England competitor trailing, Rory Dunne had secured a spectacular 1st place and the top weight overall.
England fate was sealed when the result of Shane Dunne filtered through as he had also gained an awesome 1st place in section with the 3rd best overall weight.
Donnacha Maguire had performed well yet again and the new man on the block John Nee fishing as an individual (only 5 per team) had a massive 3rd in section also.
Unofficial devastating results and reports soon permeated the 6 teams of the UK regions and their national team but while nothing was confirmed it soon became apparent that Ireland had not only pulled off the impossible, on an alien method, on an alien water, in the backyard of the best angling nation in the world but had done so in a devastating fashion.
The official result sheet report would show come presentation time, that Ireland had indeed swept the board with an astonishing win of an unthinkable margin of 28 points.
Three of England Regions followed the Ireland team home before the England national team was announced as 5th overall and second of the nations to the brilliant performing Ireland team.
Holland had moved from 6th amongst the nations to 3rd in the nations overtaking a vastly experienced Belgium team in 4th coached throughout the entire week by Holland’s world champion Jan Van Schendel.
Germany finished in 5th place in the Nations and was followed in 6th by a strong but somewhat disappointed Italian side.
In the Pole championship Richard Caplice had gained the third highest weight overall of 27kgs but it was in the Rod and line championship that our team members excelled.
Shane Dunne had won the bronze in third place and the marvellous Rory Dunne followed in the footsteps of last years Rod and Line champion Richard Caplice by taking the gold medal in this discipline with a brilliant 29.90kgs.
Rory Dunne, Richard Caplice and Eamonn Bracken all figured in the top ten overall and along with Shane Dunne all picked up valuable tackle prizes of high-grade rods and reels to match.
No superlatives can adequately describe this result which must range amongst the best ever achieved by any squad from An Garda Siochana representing our nations police force in any sport.
The Anglers pitted against us on this occasion at the Mecca of British angling are in sporting terms from the premiership clubs of the discipline of Fresh water Angling the likes of Preston Innovations Thatcher and Daiwa Trentmen and it is against this background that the result will be judged.
Hard work and steely determination aligned to a positive team plan that was executed unerringly brought this unprecedented success to our best ever team of seven, I thank and salute everyone of you that made this fantastic result happen.
Stu Killen’s advice and expertise was pivotal and maybe the key to our success on this occasion but each mans trust in and perseverance with the team plan was critical in achieving the wonderful outcome. Lesser-prepared team members might be tempted to deviate in despair following a slow start, when other teams were forging ahead; we still kept it simple and fished to our strengths.
Tackle giants Maver UK under local boss Phil Briscoe help to sponsor the Ireland and England national teams in all of their tackle requirements and spare equipment was even brought to the fishery to augment the extensive range of kit required by us at this varied method venue.
Peter Nicholson at Irish bait and Angling Services supplied us with a huge quantity of excellent bait again on this occasion and for this we are sincerely grateful.
Coiste Siamsa continues to support our team and it is thanks this continued support that we have been moving upwards and onwards.
Thanks also to St Paul’s Garda Credit union for their help and support.
To Stu and Kieran we could not have done this without you.
All mentioned helped in making this remarkable result happen and even when our travel arrangements became imperilled by a clutch failure at the port on the outward journey, our good friends and mentors in the Irish angling world, Peter and Niall Walsh proprietors of I.D.A.S provided a replacement van at 6.45am on Sunday morning at a moments notice, we can not thank you enough.
We have broken the mould in Irish international angling in 2010 and we look forward with confidence to 2011 when we compete in Holland and onwards to 2012 when the event is scheduled for Lough Muckno, the centre of excellence in Angling in Ireland and will be hosted there by An Garda Siochana.