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World Sheepdog Trials make historic debut in Dromore

The four-day event is expected to attract 50,000 spectators from across the world, with 240 competitors from over 30 countries vying to be named as ‘top dog’.

Competitors and grandfather and grandson duo (forefront) Sammy Long and Sam Fagan, hailing from Ballybofey, in County Donegal with Bill Porter, Owner of Gill Hall Estate and John McCullough, Chairman of the World Trial Committee.

Northern Ireland is set to host the World Sheepdog Trials for the very first time, as the global event makes its way to Gill Hall Estate, Dromore, from September 13 to 16.

Organised by the International Sheep Dog Society, the four-day event is expected to attract 50,000 spectators from across the world, with 240 competitors from over 30 countries vying to be named as ‘top dog’ with a World Champion announced at the end of the four-day event.

21 people from across the island have been selected to represent Team Ireland, including a grandfather and grandson duo, which is a first for the competition.

Hailing from Ballybofey, in County Donegal, Sammy Long and his grandson, Sam Fagan, who is also the youngest competitor in the Senior Cup Competition, say that they are “honoured and immensely proud,” to be representing Team Ireland alongside each other this year.

“I have been taking part in sheepdog trials for a number of years but there’s something special about representing Team Ireland on home soil, and having my grandson by my side just makes me feel so proud,” Sammy explained.

“Many hours of training have gone into preparing for the World Sheepdog Trials and we know that we will be up against some tough competition, but I’m confident that Team Ireland will be able to put on a stellar performance.

“We have some very experienced partnerships on our team this year, which will certainly stand us in good stead.”

A testament to the global appeal of the World Sheepdog Trials, spectators from all corners of the world are expected to attend, delivering a significant economic benefit to businesses across Northern Ireland, with many visitors within the sheepdog community already booking extended trips.

“The arrival of the World Sheepdog Trials in Northern Ireland is a momentous occasion,” says John McCullough, Chairman of the World Trial Committee.

“We are honoured to showcase the exceptional talent and dedication of sheepdogs and their handlers on the global stage. With competitors hailing from diverse countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Finland, this event truly exemplifies the universal appeal of sheepdog trials.”

Pictured with Lord Mayor of ABC Council, Margaret Tinsley (centre), are from left, Bill Porter, Owner of Gill Hall Estate, Gerry Mellotte, ABP Food Group, sponsor, Marc Coppez, Randox, sponsor and John McCullough, Chairman of the World Trial Committee.

Lord Mayor of ABC Council, Alderman Margaret Tinsley, added: “This is an absolutely fantastic event coming to our Borough in September which will be such a boost for our local hospitality sector.

“I wish all of the organisers all the very best as they juggle with the complexities of the huge numbers travelling to Gill Hall Estate and very much look forward to visiting the event myself.”

Bill Porter, the venue host and owner of Gill Hall Estate commented: “We are thrilled and immensely proud to be the venue for the 2023 World Sheepdog Trials. Gill Hall Estate provides the perfect backdrop for this global event, offering not only a picturesque setting but also the space and facilities necessary to accommodate the competitors and spectators alike.

“We’re hopeful that the ripple effect of the four-day event will extend well beyond the World Sheepdog Trials, benefitting local businesses and accommodation providers across the week and showcasing the incredible sights of Northern Ireland to visitors from across the globe.”

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