Day 1

Good morning from the first morning at the Irish National sheepdog trials!

It is a fine morning and the forecast is for good weather.

Ireland is picking the top 15 across the three days for the team.

John Brennan was first to the post with Spot.

The sheep are Texel Belclare crosses and are being worked with three ewes and two hoggetts per packet.

The course is on a long field, slightly rising, with a couple of rolls and dips. The drives are right-handed, and the correct cross-drive line is in front of the fetch gates.

John sent Spot on the right-hand outrun. There is a podium for the handlers to help them see down the course. The first packet of sheep worked well and John completed his run.

The shedding ring has been mown and the rest of the field is quite long grass.

Martin Walsh and Mist complete their run but missed the first drive and had trouble holding the single.

There are two sheep stewards and a dog holding the sheep at the top of the field and there is a white post to mark the set-out point.

Jim McConnell and Joe were timed up at the pen.

Tom O'Sullivan was first to opt for the left-hand outrun but Jim started to come in and needed to be re-commanded.

Handlers are going to have to be very careful not to upset the sheep at the pen where they are proving challenging.

They are breaking against man and dog and are stubborn, and a lot of time is being wasted in the attempts to pen.

Barra O'Brien and Llwynsarn Floss missed the fetch and were timed up at the pen.

The sheep have got trickier through the course of the morning.

Last to run before the brace was Michael Gallagher and Cain. Cain went out to the right. They had two sheep out of the fetch and at the second drive gates the sheep bolted and turned inside the gates. After a decent pen they struggled in the single and ran out of time.

The sheep are a hard test at the pen, turning and facing the dogs. Dennis Birchall had a completed run with Peggy, backing the sheep into the pen with a lot of stick waving.

The brace is up next while the singles judges go to lunch. There are three runs scheduled for today.

Sammy Long, running Sam and Moss, had a great run around the field in the brace. Sammy shed with Moss and as he was pushing the other five away with Sam, the shed sheep ran behind him and rejoined the others. They completed, but no doubt Sammy is kicking himself for the slip-up. They had a score of 205.

There are a number of trade stands on site, and a couple of bouncy castles to keep younger visitors entertained. Competitors and spectators are lining the fences to watch the running.

Billy Ryan and Rye have completed the course.

J.P. McFadden's Cap nearly crossed the course on the right hand outrun. J.P. ran out of time in the single.

Young handler Shannon Conn completes the course with Harry.

James McGee completes the course with Seth. They missed the first drive gates and brought the sheep back through but finished the at-hand work well.

Martin O'Malley and Gwenno got to the pen, where they had a battle. They were nearly there but one collared ewe squeezed between the small gap between Martin and the gate before the bell rang.

The sun is still shining and, because of the time being spent battling the sheep at the pen, the dogs are coming off the course quite hot.

The sheep are looking for a confrontation at the pen and won't turn to even look into it, preferring to stand and face the dog.

James McGee takes the lead with a score of 163 points.

Six runs after James McGee, James McCloskey went to the top of the score board today running Kim. They scored 166 points.

During the afternoon, in the heat of the day, some packets needed a lot of push around the field and there were a couple of sticky lifts.

As the running continued into the evening the sheep became more settled at the pen. They were still very tricky but would at least turn and look into the pen.

Running at number 38, Frank Cashen's sheep came out of the pens at the top of the field without any collars, but it wasn't noticed until after his fetch.

The course director stopped his run and he ran again two runs later. The judges started judging his run again after the fetch. Frank and Jip completed but missed the cross-drive gates. They finished on a score of 136.

One of the last runs of the day, at number 42, F. McCullough went into the lead with Jake, with a score of 181 points.

Trialling came to an end just before 9pm at run number 44. The remaining four competitors will run in the morning when trialling will start at 7am.

The top scores so far are:

F. McCullough, Jake, 181;

J. McCloskey, Kim, 166;

J. P. McGee, Seth, 163;

J. J. Brennan, Spot, 158;

J. F. Maginn, Lad, 157.