Each year 150 of the top dogs in Ireland and the Isle of Man come together to compete for the coveted title of Irish National champion with the 15 highest placed dogs and their handlers being rewarded with the honour of going forward to represent Ireland in the International championships held each year in September.
This year the competition is being held on the farm of Mr and Mrs Bernard Venney, Minerstown Road, Rossglass, BT30 8LR, commencing of on Thursday, August 15, and continuing of Friday and Saturday, August 16-17 and the local committee is indebted to the Venney family for the use of his land.
In past few years the format of the National trials is such that the top five dogs from each day go to make up the final team with the top pointed competitor on each of the three days competing in a run off on Saturday evening for the coveted honour of becoming the 2019 Irish National champion.
The local sheepdog fraternity is well represented in the list of competitors as previous Irish National champions John Maginn, Frankie McCullough and Allister Lyttle, the local committee chairman, previous Irish team members John Rooney and Peter Morgan along with Susan Venney pit their wits against well known handlers from the four corners of Ireland and the Isle of Man in the hope of getting a chance to earn a coveted place on the Irish team.
At lunch time each day the brace competition will take place with three competitors each day, each handling two dogs, competing for two places as Irish national brace champion and runner up to represent Ireland in the international brace competition in September.
This will be a chance to see last year’s Irish National and International Brace champion John Maginn attempt to retain his National title.
To stage a high profile event such as this takes a lot of hard work and commitment and the local committee, under the chairmanship of Allister Lyttle ably assisted by vice chairman John Maginn, secretary John Brennan and treasurer Seamus Maginn, coupled with the astute advice of past Irish National president John McCullough and the enthusiasm of the local committee members, have been working in the background for the past year to make sure the event is a success for everyone concerned, be they competitors, spectators or the local businesses that will gain financially from the influx of visitors attending the three day event.
Finance for an event such as this is a big issue and raising the funds required is no easy task at any time, never mind in the current economic climate where sponsors are more difficult to persuade to part with their cash as everyone tightens their financial belts.
The local committee is indebted to everyone who supported the many avenues of fundraising undertaken but especially to Newry Mourne and Down District Council and Glen Farm Supplies, which have come onboard as event sponsors.
The trial field itself is just off the Minerstown Road with the competition commencing each day at 8am and continuing until approximately 6pm.