Top Northern Ireland ploughmen off to York for world contest

Northern Ireland Ploughing team members, attending the church service at York Minster this week (from left) Thomas Cochrane, Samuel Gill, William King and Richard Gill
Northern Ireland Ploughing team members, attending the church service at York Minster this week (from left) Thomas Cochrane, Samuel Gill, William King and Richard Gill

Northern Ireland’s top ploughmen are due to compete at the World Ploughing Contest this weekend in York, England. Samuel Gill, from Downpatrick, and Thomas Cochrane from Coleraine Ploughing Society, will represent Northern Ireland at the two day contest which gets underway on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September.

Ian Simms, (Kilroot PS) and Jackie Moore (Society of Ploughmen NI) will compete at the World Vintage Ploughing Contest held at the same event. The Northern Ireland Team, sponsored by Donnelly and Taggart and Docs Catering and JB Tyres will also consist of William King MBE (judge/coach), Richard Gill (World Board representative) and David Gill (reserve judge/coach).

Sam Gill in practice in stubble ground in York ahead of the World Contest

Sam Gill in practice in stubble ground in York ahead of the World Contest

In the World Contest, Samuel, ploughing with a Ford 4610 and Kvernland plough, has competed at the event on six previous occasions and won the famous Golden Plough in Austria 2008.

Thomas, ploughing with a McCormick tractor and Kvernland reversible plough, has competed several times at the Worlds winning the Gold medal in the Conventional Class in 1997 in Australia and has finished on the podium several times.

Tom is also a three time winner of the European Ploughing Championships and he hopes this year could be his year to get this first gold medal in the reversible class.

Both competitors will take their own equipment to York where they will practice for a week as part of a 10 day official programme including the two day contest.

“The ground is very loose and sandy so I’ve made a few changes to my set up just to try and get a few extra points. I’m hoping for a good result and I hope to be up there challenging for medals. Winning the golden plough again would be amazing but I understand to do so, I would need to plough two of the best plots I have ever ploughed.”

Samuel Gill

They will be joined by competitors from over 30 countries around the world including USA, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Both Samuel and Thomas travelled to England last week and have been practicing hard on nearby farms to try out different ground conditions and plough set ups.

Samuel, who has been ploughing since he was young, said: “The ground is very loose and sandy so I’ve made a few changes to my set up just to try and get a few extra points.

“I’m hoping for a good result and I hope to be up there challenging for medals. Winning the golden plough again would be amazing but I understand to do so, I would need to plough two of the best plots I have ever ploughed.”

Tom Cochrane in practice in York under the eye of Lindley Deans

Tom Cochrane in practice in York under the eye of Lindley Deans

Samuel’s wife Jayne and sons Jack and Charlie, will be there to cheer him on.

He acknowledges the support. He said: “I am hugely grateful to my brother David for his invaluable support, DG Mechanical Engineering and local support from Lakeside Inn, Stoneyways, JB Tyres.”

Thomas will be competing with a new plough in England and is expecting a tough competition.

Tom said: “The land is expected to be very loose and sandy, which is the type of land close to where I live and I enjoy ploughing. Everything needs to go right – good practice, good draw of plot, and of course good ploughing. One simple mistake could cost you the world title so focus and concentration is so important, as well as being able to cope with the pressure.”

William King, NI team coach for the World Contest, said he is confident all competitors can challenge for glory.

He said: “All Northern Ireland competitors are experienced ploughmen who can hold their own at the top level. The World Contest in England will be a tremendous event with strong competition from a high number of quality competitors and I wish all our competitors every success in York.

“The World Contest brings together some sixty competitors from thirty countries.

“Northern Ireland are one of the most successful countries winning the Golden Plough on no less than ten times. Hugh Barr from Aghadowey  still holds the record of three times  World Champion.

“This is a challenge that our competitors, who have already been world champions, can strive to emulate and what better place to start than in England.”

As well as the World Style contest, this year, in York, for the first time, there will be a World Vintage Ploughing Championships. Northern Ireland will have two competitors – Ian Simms, Kilroot Ploughing Society, will compete in the hydraulic class while Jackie Moore, from Bangor, will compete the trail class.

Ian, European Vintage Champion, is looking at competing at the World Vintage Competition.

He said: “I hope to have an enjoyable and successful trip, enjoy meeting fellow competitors from across the world, and of course, try to finish in the position everyone else wants to finish in – first place.

“I would like to thank NIPA for the opportunity to compete, sponsor JB tyres and everyone else who has helped in any way. I am part of a strong Northern Ireland team and I would like to wish my fellow teammates the best of luck for the competition.”

Speaking ahead of leaving Belfast, Jackie Moore said: “I am looking forward to meeting with like-minded ploughmen and sharing experiences and stories with them.

“I enjoy every aspect of ploughing and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead and whatever else I have to contend with.

“My main opposition, I imagine, will be the Englishmen as they have a good record of wins at European level, but having said that it could be anyone winning on the day.

“I want to thank my family, the Society of Ploughmen who organised a great fundraising evening for me.”

Jackie travelled by ferry for the five day trip from Belfast to Cairnryan and then had a five to six hour drive to York. He will be accompanied by his wife Rae and friends Alistair Beck and David Boyd who will bring his tractor on their trailer.

The Northern Ireland competitors will be very well supported with several bus loads booked up and several others either taking the ferry or flying over.

The competition takes place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September with medal winners being announced at a gala evening following the competition.

A full report will follow next week.

For more information visit: www.niploughing.com.

The World Contest will be followed by the 73rd Northern Ireland Championships which will take place in Aghanloo Industrial Estate, Limavady, Co Londonderry on Friday 30th and Saturday 1st October.

The event determines who will represent Northern Ireland at next year’s world and European contests.

The championships promise to be another important event in the agri calendar and the NIPA are delighted to be able to hold their contest back on the north coast.

Wilson Holden, chairman of the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association, said at the recent launch: “Following a successful championships last year at Balmoral Park, the NIPA are delighted for the event to be on this excellent site in Limavady.

“We are extremely grateful to our hosts who, due to weather conditions, have provided a new site at late notice.

“Along with the ploughing, there are many different attractions for all the family to enjoy at our event this year including the return of the ever popular tractor pulling competition.

“We are looking forward to hosting top competitors from Norhern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As well as our usual trade exhibitors from across the agricultural sector and beyond, we are indebted to the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster who hold their fencing competition and soil assessment which attracts over 20 clubs from all across the province.”

Alderman Maura Hickey from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, principal sponsor of the ploughing championships, said: “Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are delighted to welcome the Northern Ireland Ploughing Association to Limavady.

“We look forward to partnering together with the NIPA to host this year’s NI Ploughing Championships,” she added.

For more information visit www.niploughing.com or follow Northern Ireland Ploughing Association’s facebook page.

Trade stand bookings can be obtained from NIPA Treasurer, Glenn Kerr on 07850 750954.

For full information, please visit www.niploughing.com or email Elaine at info@niploughing.com.