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Shearing legend Fagan tips best World final ever

Shearing legend Fagan tips best World final ever


Multiple shearing champion David Fagan is tipping one of the best international competitions the World has scene as the Golden Shears World Championships are held this week in the coastal Co Wexford town of Gorey.

Fagan, in Ireland as a spectator and to compete in lead-in shows including the open-entry All-Nations events which launch the four-day competition on Thursday, said that never before have so many countries been in contention for the glamour machine title he won five times from 1988 to 2003.

While he expects fellow New Zealanders Rowland Smith and John Kirkpatrick to be the toughest to beat, he also rates the prospects of defending World champion Gavin Mutch, of Scotland, Welsh shearers Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones, and Irishman Ivan Scott.

“But it all comes down to what happens on the day,” he said after watching Scott beat Mutch, Smith and Kirkpatrick each by more than a sheep in the Connacht Spring Show final on Sunday.

“The great thing about these championships is the camaraderie,” he said. “In some ways nations don’t really come into it. We all want to kill each other when we’re competing, but we’re all mates”

“If you get beaten then you get in behind and support those who beat you. That’s what you do. They’re all good buggers. We’re all friends.”

As for the lead-up form, he said: “Anyone who thinks what’s happened in the other competitions is going to make any difference to what happens at the World Championships is fooling themselves. When you take to that board in the final you’re all equal.”

Of Scott’s emergence, having failed to reach the final at previous World Championships, Fagan said after the 20-sheep Connacht final at Ballinrobe Racecourse on Sunday: “It was a very gutsy performance on some challenging sheep.”

Nevertheless, Fagan says he thinks “the New Zealanders” will still win it, but he won’t separate the pair of Smith and Rowlands, who only just kept him out of selection for what would have been a ninth World Championships.

Now 52 and with 626 wins in Open class shearing career dating back to late 1981, including 16 wins in the famed Golden Shears International Championships Open final held each year in Masterton, New Zealand, Fagan has also noticed the rise of other nations and younger competitors, including 23-year-old Jack Robinson, of Northern Ireland, Christophe Riffaut, of France, and Luis Sorrosal, of Spain, showing the value of increased regular international competition and the World Championships, being held for the 16th time since they were first held in England in 1977.

The individual machine shearing final is expected to bring a crowd of well over 1000 to a frenzy as the World’s best shearers fleece 20 sheep each in well under 20 minutes late next Sunday afternoon.

It will be one of six last-afternoon finals, with individual and teams showdowns in machine and blades shearing and woolhandling.

The Golden Shears World Championships have attracted 102 competitors from 27 countries, all of them expected to warm-up in the All-Nations events which have attracted more than 350 entries.

ENDS


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