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Independent.ie

Saturday 25 November 2017

scot favourite to hold title in shear thriller

Crowds to witness amazing feats of speed and skill as over 150 competitors from all over the world hit for Kildare venue

Over 150 of the world's top sheep shearers will take to the stage this weekend at the Quinns of Baltinglass All Ireland and International Sheep Shearing and Wool Handling Championships, in Punchestown, Co Kildare.

Returning to defend his 2011 title of Champion International Open shearer will be Scotsman Hamish Mitchell, who last year sheared 20 hogget ewes in 15 minutes 49 seconds to win the competition outright.

However, Mitchell will by no means get a free run at the title this year, with plenty of Irish and international competitors lining up to take his crown.

Among those seeking to de-throne the Scottish shearer will be Welsh native Gareth Daniels. The current Welsh national champion is in great form, having represented his country in the Golden Shears final in New Zealand earlier this year.

Donegal native Ivan Scott is another who would like to beat Mitchell, having been international champion himself in both 2009 and 2010.

He will also be focused on trying to defend his current title of All Ireland champion. His record stands at 744 lambs in eight hours.

Other competitors in the international open competition include Tom Kennedy, from Athenry, Co Galway, Stanley Allingham, from Co Fermanagh, and Roy Collier, from Co Wexford.

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With six competitors set to go head to head in the final on Sunday, spectators at Punchestown will witness some 120 sheep being shorn in a head-spinning 16 minutes.

Favourites to make it to the frenzied final include the aforementioned Hamish Mitchell, Ivan Scott and Gareth Daniels, as well as Jack Robinson from Northern Ireland and Welshmen Richard and Rhys Jones (no relation). However, Irish shearers TJ Brown, Andrew Corrigan and Stanley Allingham also have a great chance of reaching the decider.

Running alongside the machine-shearing competitions will be the traditional hand-shearing classes.

Among the shearers in these classes will be current Irish champion Sean O'Sullivan, from Kerry, international champion Elfed Jackson and another Welshman, Gareth Owen.

These competitors will be judged on three separate criteria -- their technique while shearing, the time it takes to complete their animals and the quality of the finish.

An even 10mm layer of wool left on each sheep is regarded as the ideal finish, according to shearing expert George Graham of the Irish Sheep Shearing Association.

The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, at Punchestown Racecourse, Naas, Co Kildare. Admission costs €10 for adults and €5 for juveniles, with children under four years of age free of charge.

Students and OAPs have a discounted admission of €5, while a family ticket costing €25 will admit two adults and up to three children. Tickets can be bought on the day.

Indo Farming