Top international shearers attempt to break Irish record in Portlaoise

SOME of the world’s top shearers will attempt to beat the Irish record of 20.3 seconds for shearing a sheep in the Clik Pour-on Speed Shear Challenge at the All Ireland championships in Portlaoise on Saturday evening, June 5.

The former world shearing champion, David Fagan from New Zealand, is expected to defend the record which he set in Kilkenny 10 years ago.

However, he will be up against the current Irish champion, Ivan Scott, Donegal, who also holds the world “single stand” record, which he set in New Zealand last year when shearing 736 sheep in eight hours.

Speed Shear is one of the top attractions at the championships and other leading shearers such as George Graham (Wexford), Hamish Mitchell (Scotland), Nicky Benyon (Wales), Willie Jones (Northern Ireland), and Alex Reid (New Zealand) will also be competing.

It is run off against the clock. Each competitor shears one sheep in the first round, and the three fastest qualify for the final with the winner receiving the Clik trophy and a cash prize.

After a major review by the National Sheep Shearers Association, the schedule of competitions has been overhauled in order to give a better balance to the programme.

As a result, all the Irish confined competitions will be held on Saturday and all the international open competitions will take place on Sunday.

Previously, the qualifying heats in the various competitions were held on Saturday and all the semi-finals and finals on Sunday.

Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith, who welcomed the new format at the championships launch in Dublin, said the recently announced grassland sheep scheme would deliver 54 million to sheep farmers over the next three years.

He said the European Commission had approved the new scheme for sheep fencing and handling facilities which will be launched in the near future following consultations with the farm organisations.

Mr Smith said his Department has also provided over 1 million in support to Sheep Ireland (working with ICBF) which has already made tremendous progress in sheep breeding in the last two years.

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