BY JOHN SEXTON
IN the long history of the National Ploughing Championships, never before did any county rack-up such an array of wins as the Cork team at Screggan, near Tullamore, Co Offaly, last week.
Seven wins, four seconds and two thirds is an accomplishment which speaks for itself. The Coakleys of Reenascreena are regular winners and, on this occasion, Ger gave a close call to John Whelan for a place on the World Championships team.
John Murphy (Timoleague) and Matt Coakley (Macroom), both newcomers to the big stage, came home clear winners, as did James O’Sullivan, who is keeping up a noble family tradition, with his father, Barry, also competing in the senior class. Gordon Jennings, John O’Neill, Tim Lawlor and John Wolfe kept the vintage to the forefront, while another aspiring youth, Aidan O’Donovan (Cahermore), took the U21 class in style, following the standard set by his father, Gerry, and grandfather, Pat, who died recently.
Rose Nyhan was a close second in the ‘Farmerette’ class, letting us know that the women are also quite capable with the plough, while Michael Wycherley and Dan Hurley did well in their respective reversible classes. Away from the ploughing, interest on the stands abounded with all the thousands seeking out their favourites. Teenagers were present in their droves, with many secondary schools sending busloads there to further their education.
The main topics of conversation at the farming stands centred on the weather and the crops, and the price of grain. With the weather so bad and much of the harvest yet to be saved, feelings ran high at the IFA stand whenever the price of grain surfaced.
Minister Creed has given a temporary respite with the tillage forum, which he has called for next week. The bad weather, which has done so much damage to the crops and the wretched poor price being offered, could signal disaster for tillage farming.
However, amidst all this turmoil, the crowds have flocked to the ploughing, proving what a great attraction it is for town and country people.