Results - Day 1

The 2016 Irish National is being held at Ballymullock Road, Larne, Co. Antrim and is due to start at 7.30am each day. 


It is being hosted by Robin McNinch with the local committee being led by Eamon McAuley.

The top five will be selected each day and the trial is also being used as the qualifier for next year's World Trial.
The sheep will be horned blackfaces, the majority being ewes with some hoggets being mixed in. The hoggets were run at nursery trials over the winter.

The course is rising with lush green grass. A fence has been removed halfway up the field, but there is a stone bank right across the course which the dogs will have to jump on their outruns. The fetch gates are positioned just above the bank. Just below, a gap has been made, with top soil and green sheeting used to negate the drop of the bank. The drive is left-hand in the lower field.

It is a good viewing course and there are covered trailers with some seating, which should provide some shelter from the elements. In the field behind the course is the parking area and catering marquees.

It is a wet, grey start and the blustery wind and rain is blowing down the course into the handlers' faces.
First to the post was Barra O'Brien with Llwynsarn Floss who needed an extra couple of whistles to get her to jump over the bank. Barra completed the course in time despite the shed taking a while. The sheep were clinging together in the ring.


The trial is very close to the coast and from the top of the field you can see the sea. The rain blows off momentarily before sweeping in again. 

There is one shepherd and one dog walking the sheep from the setting out pens to the lift post for each run.

The sheep are tricky at hand. They are difficult to settle and shed and time is being used up here. A number of handlers have lost them around the back of the pen. Most people need a quick single to complete before the bell rings.

Time is also being taken in getting the sheep off the course.

The brace began after number 18 in the singles. There is a full entry for the brace with three runs scheduled for every day.

The judges are Pat Byrne (jnr) and Robert Goligher.

The three brace runs all posted scores but the standard was disappointing. Michael Glynn, running Mo and Den, fared best by completing the course and scoring 153.

Dan Morrissey and Boss and Dina ran out of time at the open pen and scored 141. Matthew Murphy completed with Rusty and Sweep but only scored 85.

The wind is very blustery and it certainly doesn't feel like August!

The sheep are holding well at the top of the field.

Some packets have looked more settled in the ring but they only need a little too much pressure and they are difficult to manage. They are going around the field well.

There was a spell of brighter weather, but the low cloud and rain has returned.

The morning saw a top score of 167 from James McLaughlin and Lyn. In second place was Michael Gallagher and Cain on 155 points.

After lunch Martin Feeney and Jack went into the lead on 181 points. Conn McGarry and Cora scored 175.

The stone bank running right along the course is catching out a lot of dogs. Most are needing extra commands and redirecting. A lot of dogs are getting to the line and start to come in thinking it's the top of the field with a lot of crossed outruns today. Even though the sheep are very visible at the lift from the post, some dogs don't seem to look for them once they start coming in and getting lost on their outruns. Some just need a couple of extra commands and hop over the bank into the top field and pick them up with less drama.

The other challenge is shedding and penning. The sheep are very tricky to handle in these elements.

It has been quite windy all day, but this afternoon it got very gusty interfering with some commands.

Due to the World Trial qualifier, the standard has been going down to 20 places, so most people have been having their full time if they haven't completed before the bell.


The top five on day one were:

1, Martin Feeney, Jack, 181;

2, Con McGarry, Cora, 175;

3, Frankie McCullough, Spot, 172;

4, James McLaughlin, Lyn, 167;

5, Michael Hastings, Meg, 165;

Reserve, James McGee, Glencregg Silver, 163.