National sheep dog trials head west

The Irish National Sheep Dog Trials are scheduled to take place for the first time in Mayo, on Achill Island, from July 19 to July 21.

The event will showcase the top 150 sheep dogs from southern Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The participants will compete to be part of the team that represents Ireland at the Annual International Trials, which will be held in Gill Hall Estate, Northern Ireland.

The Irish nationals will take place over three days and 50 handlers and their dogs will run on each day. The competitors with the five highest scores each day will be awarded a place on the Irish team to compete against against England, Scotland and Wales.

On the final day, the highest-scoring dog from all three days will have a run off to be named Overall Irish Champion; their handler will be named team captain.

The event is run by a local committee on behalf of the International Sheep Dog Society, who will also hold the same event in England, Scotland and Wales.

Along with the single competition, there will also be a brace competition that will be held at lunchtime each day. This will see three handlers compete each day, working two dogs at the same time.

The overall winner of the three days will be crowned the Irish Brace Champion and will go to run in the Annual International Trials.

The Irish national president for the International Sheepdog Society, John McCullough, stated: “I am delighted that this year’s national championships will take place on the beautiful Achill Island, Co. Mayo, on July 19, 20 and 21 for the first time.

This trial will produce a team to represent Ireland at the international championships at Co. Down in September.

“The organising committee of the Achill Island event have selected a super qualification course, that will no doubt be a challenge for the 150 single and 18 brace dogs that will compete to be a member of the Irish team.”

Last year’s national championship

Last year’s national championship was held in the rural town of Bunclody, Co. Wexford. AgriLand was there on the day to capture the sights and sounds as some of the best dogs in the country competed for a place on the national team.

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