From I.T.F.F.A. Rivers Team Manager Seamus O’Neill
We’re just home from England after a long tough week fishing on the beautiful river Tees. We travelled over for this match on Saturday 15th June which gave us 6 days to prepare as a team together. We had a lot of prep work in the months leading up to this with team meetings discussing flies tactics etc, we were fortunate that most of the team had previous experience fishing the river Tees. Anyway practice began in earnest on the Sunday morning with the lads getting to the river good and early, it was very exciting for me to watch all the lads getting plenty of fish on various tactics. We had a lot of rain on the first couple of evenings which led to the river rising quickly, but I was very pleased to see how well the team adapted to these conditions. The forecast was good for the rest of the week so we knew the river levels would drop which of course it did dropping 70cm by match day.
Practice went so well all week that I don’t think I was ever as confident going into a match before. The draw for beats were done on the Wednesday evening and while studying the draw in detail we knew we had drawn some good pegs which is important in these matches
It was an early start on match day, the lads were well prepared with plenty of flies tied and more importantly shared. Fishing started at 9-45 for 3 hours and then a break for lunch. Back at the lunch venue after fishing two sessions we all gathered together to discuss how things were going, quickly we knew we had done very well so plenty of encouragement from one another as they headed back to the river for the final 2 sessions which we knew would be very tough
Word came through to me during the afternoon that we were ahead at lunchtime by the tightest of margins 1 point, I’m long enough around now to know not to get too excited by this but I also knew we had plenty of experience on our team so my hopes were high. It was 6-15 before the competition ended and as all the lads started to arrive back news was very encouraging but the Scots and the English were also very upbeat, we knew it was going to be very tight
We all headed back to the official hotel for the presentation dinner, lads were quickly showered and at the hotel bar looking very smart. The 4 competing teams were all in good form together. It felt like an age before we were called to the function room for dinner and while walking down the steps to the room word filtered through that we had won the match, plenty of hugging and back slapping from the lrish lads was great to see. This was the first time the rivers team won gold away from home which is not an easy thing to do
We had the presentation after the meal and it was a proud evening for us to see our magnificent captain Andrew Sloan accept the Geoff Clarkson trophy on behalf of the team, as the presentation continued we also had an individual winner with Mark Sloan collecting the Moc Morgan trophy for being the top angler on the day, a truly prestigious award
We are all back home now safe and sound and I would like to thank each and every member of the team for all the hard work they put in during the week, it truly paid off, our captain Andrew Sloan, Peter Doherty, Joe Winder, Stuart Moore, Brian Russell and Mark Sloan. I would also like to thank Brian larkin our rivers co-ordinator for all his help during the week on the river and at the vice tying flies
I would also like to thank Southside angling for their continued sponsorship, to Sam Sloan for organising the ferry at a reduced rate and to Andrew again for organising the fundraiser competition earlier in the year
I have to say it was a very proud moment for me to see Ireland win there first gold medal away from home and even prouder to be part of it..
Seamus O Neill Irish Rivers Team Manager
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