Denis is a cut above as he competes at World Champs

Sinead Kelleher

To represent your country in a World Championship is a huge honour and it is a honour that Bonane shearer Denis O'Sullivan is taking very seriously as he competes in the World Sheep Shearing Championships this week in Le Dorat in France.

The Kerry shearer is part of the six-person Irish Sheep Shearing team that will take part in this year's World Sheep Shearing Championships alongside more than 30 other countries from across the globe including Chile, Argentina, Japan, Australia and New Zeland. 

Though only 26-years of age, Denis has grown up with a shears in his hand having begun his illustrious sheep-shearing career at the age of 13. 

Since then he has won two senior All Ireland titles and was crowned national champion earlier this year. He also has junior titles and holds and Irish record for having shorn 384 lambs in eight hour at home in Bonane.

Having been selected for the World Irish team last year, following his performance on the sheep shearing competition circuit, the past year has been dedicated to intensive training as he prepares for the championships.

He has spent months in Australia and New Zealand shearing and is now at home shearing in the lead-up to France this week. 

With an impressive record, Denis is looking forward to the challenge ahead and in fact has big shoes to fill given that his mother, Breda, is also a champion shearer and holds a world title having come second in the Golden Shears World Championships in Wexford many years ago. 

She also won this year's All Ireland having returned to the shearing stand after a hiatus. It is this love of shearing that she passed onto her son. 

"I love the challenge of it and the constant learning. You are always getting better," explains Denis. 

Denis is joined on the Irish machine shearing team with Ivan Scott who holds multiple world titles and hold a Guinness World Record for speed shearing. The Donegal shearer is one of the country's top shearers and will be hoping for success on the world stage again.

The team also comprises of Peter Heraty and Martin Hopkins as blade shearers (hand shearers) and George Graham and Joanne Devaney on the wool handling team. 

Team captain is Eileen Coffey whose father is originally from Waterville. 

The Irish team flew out this Monday to Le Dorat along with Irish Judges, Tom Dunne and Colin Crowe. The World championships take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday following a week of practice for the world teams and open competitions for shearers from around the world. 

"It will be a great experience and I am looking forward to representing Ireland on the world stage." 

He and the team also owe a lot to the Irish Sheep Shearing Association for their support. In fact it was training courses that helped him get started in competitions and now he will use this experience to do his country proud on the world stage and hopefully return to Kerry with a World title to his name.