Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Champ still has Mutch to do to keep firm grip on title

Ken Whelan

The international machine shearing championship takes centre stage at Gorey, where the current champion Gavin Mutch is certain to face stiff opposition for his crown.

Mutch, a Scotsman, will have first-hand knowledge of the opposition he faces, not least from New Zealand, where he has been shearing on a semi-permanent basis for some time now.

Ask him, or any of the 100- plus shearers who will be in action at Gorey this week about their chances and they will all say it's down to "what happens on the day''.

The New Zealand machine shearing team of Johnnie Kirkpatrick and Rowland Smith – many people's favourites for team and individual titles – arrived in Ireland last week in a hopeful mood.

"I'm looking forward to Gorey especially now that the advance weather forecast is good, but winning all comes down to what happens on the day," Kirkpatrick told the Farming Independent.

Physical nature

Kirkpatrick, who spends 11 months of the year shearing in his native North Island and shears an average of 300 sheep every day, has competed in five world championships, but this is his first trip to Ireland.

Asked why he does it – he once sheared 507 sheep in a nine hour session – he simply replied: "I enjoy the job. I enjoy the physical nature of the job and I enjoy the outdoors. You are out in the fresh air all the time and you are dealing with nice people.''

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Similarly, Irish champion Ivan Scott holds a record of shearing 744 lambs in a day's session.

The 33-year-old, from Kilmacrenan in Co Donegal, has been shearing professionally throughout the world since his twenties.

"It's what I got into," he said.

"You get a lot of satisfaction when you can treat your work as a sport and you can really challenge yourself."

One machine shearer due in Gorey who really intends to challenge himself is 15-year-old Ethan Harder.

The Australian junior champion has been shearing since he was a seven-year-old and is expected to make a serious impact at these championships.

Dubbed, with typical Australian overstatement, as 'the Pele of sheep shearing', he arrived at the Connacht Show with his mother last weekend as a warm-up for the competitions in Gorey.

Indo Farming