The Irish National Sheepdog Trials for 2016 will be held at Ballymullock Road, Larne by kind permission of Mr Robin McNinch over the three days Thursday 11th, Friday 12th and Saturday 13th August.
Although Mr McNinch does not run dogs he is a great supporter of sheepdog trials and has up to four trials a year held on his lands, when asked about hosting the National trial he had no problem answering yes and took the position of treasurer on the organising committee. The last time the Irish National trials were held at Larne was in 2000 on the farm of Mr Matt Workman and was judged by Eddie Haughey and Willie Barfoot.
The judges for this year’s National will be Seamus Gallagher from Newtowncrommelin and Brian Casey from Tipperary judging the singles with Pat Byrne (jnr) from Kildare and Robert Goligher from Campsie judging the Brace competition.
The local committee have been hard at work over the last eighteen months running fund raising events and trials to raise money to run the event and have managed to get some sponsors on board. There is a lot of work and organisation behind the scenes that no one notices to have the course and sheep ready for the three days of trialling, sorting out sheep stewards, car park attendants, catering and toilet facilities, marquees, grandstands and trade stands.
The trial will start at 7.30am each morning unless stated otherwise with 50 single dogs running each day and three sets of brace dogs. The Brace competition usually is run around 12.00-12.30 each day. The top five single runs from each day will qualify to be on the Irish Team to travel to the International in Wales in September to compete against England, Scotland and Wales.
The two top pointed brace runs over the three days will qualify for the brace competition at the International. The top pointed dog from each day will run off on the Saturday after the single runs are over to determine the National winner and the three sixth placed dogs will run off for the reserve spot on the Irish team. The top pointed young handler will also run at the International in the young handlers class. There is an added bonus at this year’s National as it is also the Qualifier for the 2017 World trials to be held in The Netherlands in July where 29 Nations will be taking part.
The trial will have the top pointed 150 dogs in Ireland running with these having qualified running in Open trials and gaining points over the last three years. It is estimated that 3,000-5,000 people will attend the event over the three days. There will be car parking in the adjoining field with grandstands, disabled parking area, some trade stands, catering and toilet facilities in the field. There will also be a dance on the Friday night in the marquee starting at 8pm.
So if you are a sheepdog trial enthusiast or have just watched it on TV or maybe never seen it before get along to Ballymullock Road, Larne on Thursday 11th, Friday 12th or Saturday 13th August and see first hand the top dogs and handlers in Ireland going through their paces and have a chat with the handlers both young and old. Who knows you may even get the trialling bug and have a go yourself in the future.
For further information telephone Eamon McAuley on 07818668236.