IT was a case of first time's a charm for Ballyheighue ploughman Mikey O'Halloran on Tuesday last, when the 18year-old scooped a coveted All-Ireland ploughing title in his first ever appearance at the national competition.
The young north Kerry man claimed the top spot in the U21 conventional category at the All-Ireland ploughing championships in Wexford, while fellow Kerry man Aeneas Horan from Castleisland brought another title home winning the vintage two-furrow trailer category.
The men's success at this year's event was celebrated in fine style in Ballyheigue on Friday night when the champions were greeted by hundreds of well wishers in the village. Mikey and Aeneas were brought on a victory parade through the streets before being joined by members of the Ballyheigue and Kerry ploughing associations for well deserved celebrations.
Mikey's All-Ireland success on Thursday brings to an impressive seven the number of All-Ireland ploughing titles enjoyed by Ballyheigue ploughmen, three of which were won by his father and coach, Michael Snr, in 1973, 1977 and 2004. Local man Thomas Healy also claimed a junior title in 1976, while his son Philip continued the tradition in 1993, claiming victory in the U28 category. The most recent local winner before Mikey was Derek O'Driscoll who also claimed the U21 title back in 2009.
Meanwhile, Aeneas Horan was celebrating his second All-Ireland victory this week, having first won the title in 2008. His brother Timmy is also an All-Ireland champ (1998) while fellow Castleisland man Johnny Drumm boasts an U28 title dating back to 1964. The men's wins in Wexford last week bring to 40 the total number of All-Ireland titles won by Kerry's ploughmen and women.
Tralee ploughman Moss Trant, who was competing in this year's senior horse category, was also honoured at this year's event in Wexford, receiving the Royal Dublin Society Cup for the best turned out pair of Irish draught horses at the show.
It was also a very worthwhile trip to Wexford for Abbeydorney ploughman Tommy McCarthy, who may not have come home with an All-Ireland title, but instead won a new Massey Ferguson 5440 tractor in the Bóthar 'Win this Tractor' competition.