Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Scott has the cutting edge for world sheep shearing

Ireland's five-strong team facing stiff competition at the World Sheep Shearing Championships, taking place in Gorey

Ivan Scott failed to make the final.
Ivan Scott failed to make the final.
The championships, which are worth more than €2.2m to the local economy, will also be streamed live by the organisers for national and international audiences
The two members of Ireland’s Blade Shearing Team, Seamus Joyce and Peter Heraty from Co. Mayo, get in some training for the Golden Shears World Blade Shearing Championships

Ken Whelan

All roads lead to Gorey on Thursday when the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing Championships get under way, with 27 international teams vying for glory in what are regarded as the Olympics of the sheep shearing world.

Ireland field a five-man team for this year's event, with our best chance of medal honours resting with Ivan Scott, the well known international machine shearer from Donegal.

However, Scott and colleagues George and Brendan Graham from Gorey (wool handling) and Mayo man Peter Heraty and Finney-based farmer Seamus Joyce (blade shearing) have no illusions about the strength of the international opposition they are up against at this week's event.

The heats and finals in all three disciplines – machine shearing, blade shearing and wool handling, will be run off from Thursday through to Sunday at the specially designed Irish Country Meats Dome at the Ambers Springs Hotel just outside Gorey.

The ICM dome has a capacity of more than 1,200 spectators and record crowds of more than 40,000 are expected over the course of the competition.

The event, which is worth more than €2.2m to the local economy, is also being streamed live by the organisers for both national and international audiences.

George Graham, one of the main movers in getting the event back to Gorey for the second time, believes the home team have a reasonable chance of making an impact in all competitions.

"This is a strong team and we will certainly give it our best shot. We'll give it a lash," he said.

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Our machine shearer champion Ivan Scott holds a world record of shearing 744 strong wool sheep in eight hours – a feat achieved two years ago in New Zealand. He also just missed out on a place in the finals of the championships two years ago.

The Irish team also includes 23-year-old Mayo farmer Paul Heraty, who has been blade shearing sheep since he was seven years of age.

"He also holds the distinction of being the youngest competitor ever in the Golden Shears when he competed in the championships four years ago.

"It would be great to make a world final again, especially on home ground," he said.

"But we will have our work cut-out with the presence of so many rivals, such as South Africa and New Zealand."

The favourites in the blade shearing section have to be four-times winner Zweliwile Hans and his South African team-mate Mayenzeke Shweni, along with previous winner Tony Dobbs and his New Zealand team-mate and two-times finalist Brian Thomson.

But Heraty says it will all depend on what happens on the day.

"I had never seen such a high standard of blade shearing until I had the privilege of representing Ireland at the World Championships.

"I learned a lot from the New Zealand lads. Even though their techniques aren't very different, the equipment they use is a lot better," he said.

Our wool handling hopes rest with the father and son team of George and Brendan Graham from Gorey.

Both men told the Farming Independent that they weren't in Gorey simply to make up the numbers.

The foreign teams competing at Gorey will include a team from China competing for the first time against the traditional lamb producing countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain and Ireland.

Most of the overseas competitors arrived in Ireland a fortnight ago to acquaint themselves to shearing and wool conditions here.

The texture and strength of Irish wool is different to what they are used to in their native countries.

They took in shearing competitions in Donard in Co Wicklow, the Connacht Show in Ballinrobe and the Balmoral show in Belfast.

The Connacht Show featured Ethan Harder, a 15-year-old Australian who has already been dubbed the Pele of shearing for his exploits both at home and abroad.

He is expected to continue his current run of good form at Gorey this week where he will be pitted against the cream of world shearers.

Indo Farming

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