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Kiwi blades shearer wins in Ireland

Kiwi blades shearer wins in Ireland

A New Zealand shearer in Ireland to help the home team in next week’s Golden Shears World Championships team put his money where his mouth is when he won the opening blades shearing event of the UK season during the weekend.

Phil Oldfield, 52, of Geraldine, won the Leinster Championships event at the Donard Shears, in a remote farm shed in a wet and bleak County Wicklow.

Although it was his second win in a row in the event, it was a minor surprise after the first-round elimination of four-times World champion Zweliwile Hans.

But among others who failed to qualify were Ireland representatives Peter Heraty and Seamus Joyce, who Oldfield is mentoring through next week’s World Championships in Gorey, Co Wexford.

Missing from the event were New Zealand World Championships blades shearers Tony Dodds and Brian Thomson, who had still not arrived in Ireland.

Oldfield was never a contender for New Zealand selection this year, but in yesterday’s final in Ireland he beat World title prospects John Dalla, from South Australia, and Hans’ World teams champion partner, Mayenzeke Shweni.

Oldfield’s role in helping another country in the World Championships is hardly an act of treason, for he’s one of several New Zealand blades shearers who have taken their skills abroad to teach others in the interests of helping blades shearing survive.

“I only came over to help the Irish...I teamed up with them when I did a course here last year,” he said.

While the results of the tutoring might not have been that obvious in the results at the weekend, he said: “They will improve.”

With New Zealand machine shearing World Championships hope Rowland Smith deciding not to travel from a base in Cornwall, there were no other New Zealanders at the Donard Shears.

But there was still some New Zealand interest, with the Open machine shearing final won by Letterkenny shearer Ivan Scott, who has shorn in New Zealand each summer for 14 years, including two World lambshearing records.

Open third placegetter Jack Robinson and Senior champion Colm McLaughlin both made their marks in shearing working for Hastings contractor Kerry Brannigan in Hawke’s Bay, while intermediate winner Jonathan McKelvey worked two seasons for Onga Onga contractors Barry and Erin Baker.

The New Zealand team, including second machine shearer John Kirkpatrick and woolhandlers Joel Henare and Ronnie Goss, will this week compete in the Royal Ulster Championships, and then go to the Connach before heading to Gorey for the Irish All-Nations Championship and the 16th Golden Shears World Championship, being held on May 22-25.


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