Farming

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Tracey ploughs up world silver

Irish ploughing received a timely boost ahead of next week's national championships in Wexford when Carlow's Eamonn Tracey scooped silver at the world finals in Croatia on Saturday.

Eamonn, from Garryhill, near Bagnallstown, was keeping up a family tradition - his father John, who was manager of the Irish team this year, finished second in the world championships on six occasions.

The 43-year-old tillage farmer and contractor secured the silver medal after two days of competitive ploughing at the tournament site in Biograd na Moru in western Croatia.

Eamonn had come third on both days, in the stubble or tillage class and in the grass ploughing category, to finish in second place overall.

However, he admitted to finding the going particularly hard in the days running up to the championships.

"We were out here for 10 days practising and the ground was extremely dry. It hadn't rained in four or five months and the temperature every day was up in the 30s," Eamonn said.

"Then we had 100mm of rain the night before the championships started. That totally changed the ground and meant that everybody had to adopt to the new conditions."

A seasoned ploughman, Eamonn has won six national senior titles and a raft of underage national titles, and has also tasted success at previous world championships.

"I came fourth in the world championships in France in 1999 and third in Carlow in 2006; this second means I'm creeping up there," Eamonn said.

Anna May McHugh, of the National Ploughing Association, said she was "absolutely thrilled" for Eamonn.

She also paid tribute to Jer Coakley from Roscarberry, Co Cork, who represented Ireland in the reversible plough class in Croatia.

The 24-year-old was the youngest ploughman ever to represent Ireland at a world championships. He was placed ninth overall, but won the best 'First-Time Competitor' award.

Indo Farming