Rod and Line
Five hundred anglers from Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Germany and France converged on the west of Ireland to fish for glory in the prestigious World Cup Trout Fly Angling Championship on Lough Mask.
The competition was fished from Cushlough Bay, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo and topping the field after four heat days and the grand final was well known Banbridge angler Geoffrey Hylands.
Geoffrey is no stranger to this event and many other competitions fished on the large western limestone Loughs of Ireland. He is also a familiar figure on the podium and over the years has secured many prizes at local and major events. His earlier win in June this year of the Banbridge Angling Club's Straghan Cup on Lough Melvin set him in good stead for what was about to come.
Fellow Banbridge anglers Joe Curran and Billy Graham also made it through to the Lough Mask final along with six others from Ulster.
Billy, the World Cup winner in 1999, is well known for his gillie services during the event each year and this year he took top boatman at the Saturday heat by bringing in heat winner Ronan Cusack and then boating second place in the Sunday heat.
On to the final and for angling buddies Geoff and Joe it was to be a tale of two stories. For Geoff everything was to fall into place as he teamed up with angling partner Sean Rasdale of Garrison, Co. Fermanagh and Co. Antrim boatman Laurence Gibb. Geoff took eight fish during the match and although only four made the measure, these were enough for him to land the title.
In contrast, for Joe it was a tale of woe with engine failure, rescue boat summoned and a tow-in for an early end to his fishing day. The consolation for Joe came in the fact that the winning bag were caught on his flies. His 'Claret Dabbler' tempted six of the eight fish caught by Geoff on the day.
For Geoff, his hard work, determination and angling skill culminated in taking what for any game angler is a lifetime achievement.
As well as lifting the title and World Cup Trophy, Geoff also collected a cheque for €3,000, a 15hp Yamaha outboard boat engine worth €3,400 and fishing tackle to the value of €1,000.
His winning four fish bag weighed in at 4.861lbs with Seamus Kelly from Ballina, Co Mayo, second with two trout for 4.582lbs and third, Colin Cahill from Killucan, Co Westmeath, with two for 2.716lbs.
This year's winning boatman was Laurence Gibb, the best lady angler was Mary Miller from Galway and the best junior angler was Dara Flaherty, also from Galway.
Now in the Hall of Fame, having ticked off the World Cup, Geoff's next big target is the Garrison Open on Lough Melvin at the end of August.
Jock Hepburn was the top rod with a 36 fish bag, followed by Kevin Girvan with 33, Barry Pancott, 32 and Vaclav Preissler with 31. Lee Kane banked 29, Declan Heaney grassed 20, including a beauty at 11lbs and Sean Agita McCusker bagged 34 over two sessions.
The top five anglers who qualified to fish in the Final next April are Robbie McShane, Ardee, with three pike for 10lb 9ozs, including the heaviest fish of the day at 7lb 7ozs; Alan Heasley, Grangebellew, two for 8lb 6ozs; Chris Maguire, Ardee, two for 7lb 11ozs; Collin Creaney, Newry, one for 6lb 3ozs and Willie Heasley with one for 4lb 12ozs.