Day 2

It's an early start for day two at the Irish National. The morning is grey and damp, but we have been assured it will blow off and brighten up by 10am!

The remaining four competitors from yesterday's catalogue are being run first thing. The singles judges, Robert Goligher and Pat Byrne (junior) are back in their positions.

The last of yesterday's runs is Sammy Long running his alternate dog Ben. Sammy opts for the right-hand outrun. One sheep darts past the fetch gates. Sammy misses the cross-drive and retires.

Now we move on to the second day runs with Michael Gallagher and Flo going to the post. Flo goes out to the left. Four sheep swerved around the second drive gates, on the high side. The sheep are still misbehaving at the pen but Michael completes the course.

Shannon Conn decides to retire at the pen with Bill.

The low cloud that was shrouding the hills is starting to lift and the drizzle has blown off.

Michael Gallagher and Flo have posted a score of 172.

Ned O'Keefe and Jess complete their run in a heavy shower and score 183 to go into the lead.

The judges announce a standard is in place at 11.20am.

Cieran Kelly, at run number 64, will be the last singles run before today's three brace handlers. They are Frankie McCullough with Jake and Spot, Con McGarry with Megan and Tara, and Frank Cashen with Jip and Mist.

Once again, some of the morning's sheep will be taken back up the field for the brace handlers.

In packets of 10, these sheep need quite a lot of push around the field. Frankie McCullough sent Jake left and Spot right and sent them at the same time. The dogs crossed at the top. They caught all the gates around the field. Jake shed the five off and penned them at the open pen. Frankie used the Michael Glynn tactic of taking his cap off and waving it frantically to help get the sheep in. At the second pen the sheep constantly tested Spot, breaking and challenging until he lost his patience and they were disqualified. Coming off the course after his run, Frankie said: "That was my first National doubles run and quite possibly my last!"

Next to run was Con McGarry with Megan and Tara, both by Con's Tip. Megan went out to the right and Tara to the left. Their turn at the podium was a bit wide and they missed the first drive. They caught the second drive gates before Tara went into the shedding ring. They weren't easy to shed, sticking together and one pinging back when Con stepped in on five. Tara got them into the open pen and Megan and Con completed the course at the second pen to give them a total score of 190.

The last of today's brace runners was Frank Cashen. Mist went right, a fraction before Jip ran out on the left. They caught the fetch and first drive gates but had a wide turn. The sheep came low on the cross-drive before being pushed back on line to catch the second drive. Mist and Frank shed on the second attempt. Jip was to be used at the open pen so Mist pushed the five up the course, but only to the first drive gates where they were still in sight of the open pen. The sheep at the pen were drawing to the others while Mist started coming back down the field to help. Eventually they rejoined and Frank had to go back to the ring to shed them again. They ran out of time at the open pen. Their score was 160.


After the brace the singles resumed with John Maginn and Mozz - last year's National champions. They weren't to repeat that success, being timed up after a long battle at the pen.

The majority of handlers continue to opt for the right-hand outrun. The sheep are more jittery around the field today, and are tending to run down the slope on the fetch, perhaps caused by the blustery conditions. They are still very difficult at the pen, but are not quite as confrontational as yesterday. 

After this morning's showers the weather has cleared with patchy sunshine, bringing more visitors to the field. 

Standard is being called on a few runs this afternoon.

Claire Somers-Cashen and Alex were left disappointed when they ran out of time in the single.

Following them, Jonny Cremin had a good completed run with three-year-old Sally. 

John Rooney and Taff had a compelted run with a score of 168 later in the evening.

A few late runs saw dogs coming in on their outruns and a number were called off when they fell below standard.

Competition finished for the day at 7.40pm with local trials vice-secretary Ned O'Keefe holding on to his lead with Jess, but there's a long way to go with another day's trialling tomorrow. Running will start at 8am.

Some of the top scores after day two:

Ned O'Keefe, Jess, 183;

Frankie McCullough, Jake, 181;

Jonny Cremin, Sally, 175;

Michael Gallagher, Flo, 172;

John Rooney, Taff, 168;

James McCloskey, Kim, 166;

James McGee, Seth, 163.