Good times ‘rolled’ at this year’s All-Ireland milk churn finals
The competition was red hot in Tipperary town last weekend for this year’s much-anticipated All-Ireland Churn Rolling finals.
Churn rolling has a long history in Tipperary – dating back to the 1950s – when it was initiated by workers at Tipperary Co-op. The co-op is still the main sponsor.
The sport involves racing a tilted churn, at speed, up Tipperary’s main street. Thousands of people turned out to witness the “edge-of-your-seat spectacle” on Saturday evening last (July 14).
This year’s championship was condensed into a one-night competition, with a contribution from the Tipperary Vintage Rally. Meanwhile, the night’s joviality and race commentary was provided by Willie Ryan aka “Bun”.
The heats consisted of the girls’ and boys’ mixed juvenile championships; the under-17 minors; and the senior men’s and women’s championships.
Milk Maids And Sparks
There was just a little breeze to cool the competitors as they prepared for a sprint up Tipperary town’s main street while in control of a weighty milk churn.
At times a churn might wobble as a contestant glanced over their shoulder to see who was on their heels.
From time to time, a churn being raced at speed struck the road surface with such force that sparks flew.
The minor final came down to three competitors: Andrew Richardson; JJ Bennett; and Andy Richardson.
As the speed escalated, spectators knew it would it would be a photo finish, with the title of minor champion finally clinched by Andy Richardson.
The 2017 ladies All-Ireland Churn Rolling Champion, Violet Ryan, from Cordangan, Co. Tipperary, also returned to defend her title.
It was a different affair in the senior men’s championship which was awaiting a new titleholder, as the reigning champion, Kevin Kinane, was unavailable for this year’s challenge.
In the final moments of the four-man clash, it became a race of two men – Jack Whelton and Thomas Nash.
Breaking the finish line in a time of 12.65 seconds, Thomas Nash, from Shronell, Co. Tipperary, secured victory and became the senior men’s All-Ireland Churn Rolling Champion 2018.
Other winners include: ladies runner-up Bernadette Leahy from Glenbane, Lattin; third place ladies went to Denise Ryan of Kilshane; and fourth place ladies was Megan Heffernan of Cordangan.
The men’s runner-up was Jack Whelton of Lattin; third place went to Damien Bourke of Bansha; and fourth position went to James Doherty of Lattin.
Meanwhile, the minor runner-up went to Andrew Richardson of Cordangan, and minor third place went to JJ Bennett from Bohertrime.
As for the under 14s, the mixed champion went to Evan Ryan of Bohercrowe; runner-up went to Leah Carew, Lattin, third place Alexandra Porte, France and fourth position went to Adam Ryan from Dromline.