Ireland’s Under-16s are Top of the World this week, after their fantastic win in last week’s World Shore Angling Championships, held in the Netherlands. This team were tipped for a medal from a long way out, counting some of the country’s top young shore anglers, and expertly coached by Brian Cooke and John Marshall. These youths have been honed by competing at club level with some of the top shore anglers in the world, and have been able to hold their own, so it was no surprise they did so well in the North Sea. Ahead of the competition, we featured the team in this post, and the profiles of the team are repeated below.
The team, comprising Kai Butler, Kaitlyn de Kleer, Nathan de Kleer, Cameron Gilbert, Max Roche and Liam David, set off with high hopes a couple of weeks ago. Practice went well, with the young anglers getting used to the venues and species, and honing their tactic, traces and bait presentation. Two second place finishes on the first two competition days saw them leading the competition at the halfway stage, narrowly ahead of the home country, France and England.
The third day proved tough, with Ireland finishing 5th, but the other top competitors also struggled, as Croatia jumped up the leaderboard into second, but Ireland held onto the lead and even extended their lead. Coming into the final day, Ireland could afford to finished no lower than third and they were guaranteed the gold medal. And they did it in style, winning the day and sealing an emphatic win by 4 points, ahead of Croatia in second and France in third.
Nathan de Kleer was top of the Irish and also took the individual bronze medal, well done Nathan!
Check out the moment that Ireland were announced as World Champions. Great soundtrack to walk out to!
Team profiles were provided by Pete Davis in the build up to the event.
Max Roche. Max hails from the sunny South East in Wexford and is something of a force of nature terrorising adults and juniors with equal aplomb on the East Coast beaches. I first met Max a couple of years ago at a leg of the Leinster League in Wicklow, pegged beside himself and his father JJ. I spent the next 4 hours having to run round like a lunatic to try and keep my nose in front as he pulled fish after fish beside me. One look at the results from the past couple of years of Leinster League legs will tell its own story. Max has represented Ireland in the past and packs a serious punch for his age, anyone who has seen Max flinging a lead out to the horizon usually only has one word… How?! Swiftly followed by Wow!
Liam Davis. Liam lives in East Limerick and I am mighty proud to be his dad. This will be Liams first World Championships but the 3rd time he has represented Ireland, competing in the Home Nations in 2022 and 2023 flying the flag for Ireland with huge points hauls in both. Liam is an accomplished shore, boat and salmon angler since a young age. He has had the West Cork and District club members on the ropes on numerous occasions over the past number of years and has long since left me in his wake! Liam is the current Irish U16 shore champ and had the honor of being the holder both the Irish U16 shore and Boat angling trophies at the same time. A quiet, efficient angler with no fuss, quiet but absolutely lethal!
Kaitlyn de Kleer. Kaitlyn comes from Munter Connaught, on the Cavan side of the Cavan/Meath border and it may well be the first time that we have 2 siblings on the same team with her brother Nathan also competing. Kaitlyn also has represented Ireland, not at U16 level but at Ladies Senior level in last years Home Nations in Weymouth aged just 13 where she more than held her own against much more experienced opposition. Kaitlyn competes in other sports, Gaelic Football and Equestrian events to a high level also. A fun loving, bright, positive addition to the team, underestimate Kaitlyn at your peril, she performed brilliantly in the fish offs to qualify.
Nathan de Kleer. Nathan, the elder de Kleer sibling is our 6’ 4 plus Dutch/Irish secret weapon. Nathan has been on 2 Irish Home Nations teams and I have had the pleasure of fishing and working with him on numerous occasions. A holy terror on the GAA field as well as the beach, there would be no one fancying competing for a high ball in midfield against this lad but a pure gentleman with a touch of mischief off the pitch. We are hoping Nate and Kaits Dutch heritage stands to us when it comes to the heat of battle in October. A super angler, utterly focused and committed when he has to be. In qualifying for last years Home Nations, Nathan fished a session in Sligo, hotfooted it back to Cavan, played the full 70 minutes for his club side before hammering back to catch the last hour of the second session and manage enough fish to secure his place. An absolute unit of a young fella who will have no qualms about taking on anyone when match day arrives.
Cameron Gilbert. Cameron comes from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland and attends Carrickfergus Academy. I had the pleasure of spending time with him whilst he was competing with Ireland in the Home Nations last year in Weymouth. Cameron has won several Ulster U16 titles and this will be his second time pulling on the green jersey. Another of our young anglers that has the adults running for cover at club and open competitions. A quiet unassuming young fella, behind the quiet smile though is a super angler, he will hold his own in the Netherlands, no question about that.
Kai Butler. Kai is another Wexford man, hailing from Duncannon. This will be Kais second time representing Ireland, he made his debut at this years Home Nations in Wales picking up a zone win against some serious competition in his first session as an international angler. Kai performed brilliantly at the fish offs to qualify, particularly in the first session where his ability to consistently pick up fish on a tough day held him in great stead. A touch of the rogue in Kai, he’s the comedian of the group, our Minister of Craic for the trip but a mighty fine angler also. It won’t be the last you hear of this young man.