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Thursday 19 April 2018

Sheep shearer on how yoga and pilates helped him smash record

Record-breaking sheep shearer Mark McGeown
Record-breaking sheep shearer Mark McGeown

Anne Campbell

Sheep Shearer Mark McGeown from Ravensdale smashed the nine hour lamb shearing record at an event in Louth recently.

The Argus reports that the Ravensdale dad smashed record, set at 617 by Roy Collier from Wexford, at the Convoy to Cooley extravaganza on Sunday, by shearing 669 lambs.

In the 'calm after the storm', Mark McGeown says he's achieved his dream and doesn't plan to try to break any more records in future.

Earlier this year, he set an Irish record for the most sheep sheared in eight hours - 617 - at the County Louth Agricultural Show at Bellurgan Park and he put all the things he'd learned from that phenomenal test of endurance and strength to good use at the Riverstown venue on Sunday.

Mark told the Argus: 'I'm not as sore as I was after the show in June. I did a lot of training between then and Sunday concentrating on building the strength in my lower back by doing pilates and yoga exercises'.

The event in Cooley started for Mark at 6.30am, but his crew, including wife, Eileen, and Donegal man Ivan, had arrived around 4.30 to ensure everything was in place. Also included in the crew was Mr Collier, the holder of the record, who proved to be a huge help to Mark as the long hours wore on.

The shearing was split up into five 'runs' with Mark averaging 18 lambs sheared in 15 minutes. And while he admitted to being nervous in the hours and days before he took on the record, the jitters evaporated as he got into his stride and maintained consistent targets over the nine hours.

But just before the final hour, Mark found his energy levels hitting the floor. And thanks to handfuls of jellybeans and flat Lucozade, he managed to continue. The large crowd who gathered to cheer him on helped him to 'forget about the pain and remember why' he was there. He said: 'Without them cheering me on, I think I would have stopped'.

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He praised his team and family for keeping his spirits up, including John Wherley, the Cooley Sheep Breeders' organisation, the local farmers and the organisers of the Convoy to Cooley.

He's finished with record attempts, he says, delighted to have achieved his dream. He said: 'I'm getting too old! I'm glad it went so well but there is so much work that goes into getting everything to run smoothly on the day. It's a relief to have a coffee this morning and not have a 'to do' list!'


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