The dreams of one man came to fruition at Barston Lake in the West Midlands as the inaugural Celtic Carp Cup was fished for between Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Welshman Tim Jones had long harboured a desire to form a Welsh carping squad to take on other nations within the United Kingdom. The squad came together towards the end of 2015 and as they gelled into a formidable outfit, Tim put stage two into operation, contacting the governing bodies of Northern Ireland and Scotland to test the water and see if a competition at national level was on the cards.
With both Scotland and Northern Ireland working to a tight schedule of just a few weeks, respective team managers Martin Mitchell and Marty McKibbin set about the logistical nightmare of pulling the cream of their respective nations’ carp anglers together, not to mention securing sponsorship at such a late stage so they could take on the Welsh at the beginning of July. The venue was Barston near Solihull and was to be fished to international rules over 48 hours. The draw and peg allocations were made on the Thursday evening for a 9am start the following day.
Within 10 minutes of the hooter sounding, the Welsh were staking their claim for the trophy as the pairing of Nick Davies and Nick Oliver in section A1 started to haul – and they didn’t stop! At the first weigh, the Welsh wizards scaled 138lb; the only other team to post a score were fellow Welshmen Chris Buck and Michael Morgan in D3, who were on 34¾lb.
Weigh number two saw the first of the Scots coming to the scales, with Kev McConnel and Alistair Kirkhope in A2 posting 43lb 7oz, while peg A1 produced another 112lb 9oz for the Welsh. C1 produced 14½lb for the Irish, with the Scots chipping in again with 32lb 1oz for Ben Mir and Adi Blantford in D1. Throughout the day, the carp began to show up and down the match length, with an early lead in section B going to the Scottish pairing of Adam King and Davy Hearns, who were to go on and claim a section win, but it was the two Nicks in A1 who were smashing them, ending the first 24 hours with 550lb 14oz.
As the match progressed it was clear the results would hinge around sections C and D, as the Irish and Scots in C were trading fish for fish for second place, and in section D, it was the Welsh and Scots again going for the two points. Going into the last evening, the Scottish pairing of Steve Warwick and Mark Stone were adrift in third place, almost 70lb behind the Irish in section C, but a terrific last 10-hour stint saw them close the gap and almost overtake the lads from over the water. Likewise, in section D, Adi Blantford and partner Ben Mir were chasing a deficit of their own of around 60lb to close the gap on Chris Buck and Michael Morgan for Wales.
The final round of the scales nailed the result well and firmly on the door, with Wales victorious on seven points, then Northern Ireland on eight and Scotland on nine, but the result could have been very different, with just 5lb separating the Irish pair of Hilson and Hope from the Scots, Stone and Warwick, in section C, and 24lb separating the Welsh and Scots in section D.
Without doubt the performance of the weekend belonged to Nick Davies and Nick Oliver in A1; the likeable Welsh pair were banking from the off to amass a staggering 1113lb of carp between them. A special mention was made at the prize-giving to the two young Scots, Adam King and, in particular, Alistair Kirkhope, who proved to be amongst the best of the rest, banking the lion’s share of a very creditable 668lb, along with partner Kev McConnel from A2. The event was fished in the best of spirits and friendly banter, culminating in many new friendships being made. The date for next year’s event is pencilled in and it’s hoped that a full complement of the Home Nations will attend, with England filling the fourth spot.
- A1) Nick Davies and Nick Oliver, Wales, 1113lb
- A2) Kev McConnel and Alistair Kirkhope, Scotland, 668lb 5oz
- A3) Chris Ducket and Chris Foulis, Northern Ireland, 102lb 9oz
- B1) Paul Stone and Daniel Townsend, Wales, 135lb 9oz
- B2) Adam King and David Hearns, Scotland, 229lb 13oz
- B3) Richard Lambert and Andy McCandless, Northern Ireland, 151lb 14oz
- C1) Barry Hope and Paul Hilson, Northern Ireland, 128¾lb
- C2) Josh Boys and Adam Johns, Wales, 231lb 1oz
- C3) Mark Stone and Steve Warwick, Scotland, 122lb 11oz
- D1) Ben Mir and Adi Blantford, Scotland, 315lb 5oz
- D2) Darren Reilly and Alex Chew, Northern Ireland, 562lb 13oz
- D3) Chris Buck and Michael Morgan, Wales, 330lb 9oz