DONEGAL’S top five sheepdogs and their handlers have travelled to Holland this week to represent Ireland at the 2017 World Trial.
It will be the first time the trial, which has been organised by the International Sheep Dog Society, has been staged outside the home nations.
The four-day competition – the ‘Olympics’ for working sheep dogs and their handlers – runs from Thursday to Sunday.
The team includes James McGee from Ballybofey, who with his dog Becca lifted the 2011 World Sheep Dog Trials Crown; Colm Doherty and James McLaughlin, both Clonmany, James McCrossan from Carndonagh as well as Stephen O’Donnell from Kilcar.
Stephen O’Donnell (45) from Coguish is delighted to be part of the Irish Sheepdog Team with his dog Snip.
Speaking to the Donegal News on the ferry en route to Holyhead on Tuesday, Mr O’Donnell said he was looking forward to the four-day event, during which a total of 240 dogs and their handlers from 23 nations will compete for the ‘top dog’ title.
A sheep farmer Mr O’Donnell and seven-year-old Snip are among the best-known and most successful triallists on the sheep dog circuit in recent years.
“She is probably the best dog I have ever owned and I hope she goes well over the coming days. She had a very good run in practice last week so we’ll wait and see what happens,” he said.
“There’s nineteen on the Irish team in total – eighteen men and one woman. We’re on the boat to Holyhead here as we speak and we have to be in Paris at 11pm tonight,” he explained.
Mr O’Donnell qualified for the team thanks to a good run in the Irish Nationals last year and this is his first time representing Ireland on the world stage.
‘It’s a bit like football’
“I’ve had dogs for thirty odd years now. It’s a bit like football. You have to put in the effort and Snip has been working on the finer points of trialling over the past few weeks. We would hope to do well enough,” he said.
Stephen has travelled to Holland with his son Michael and his brother Paul.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere