Ballyhegan team up with Fermanagh club to capture UK gold clean sweep

Tug-of-war representatives from Ballyhegan and Country Club celebrate success at the United Kingdom Championships.

Tug-of-war representatives from Ballyhegan and Country Club celebrate success at the United Kingdom Championships.

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The culmination of months of hard work and Northern Ireland glory across 2014 provided the national representatives with a winning momentum that led to a clean sweep across the UK indoor finals for a squad developed with one eye on the next generation.

Tug-of-war competitors captured gold, two silver and one bronze at Northern Ireland level but spent the post-Christmas period blending a joint panel of pullers from Ballyhegan and Fermanagh-based Country Club ahead of the UK showcase.

Adrian Russell, David Telford, Kane Douglas, Nathan Milligan and Brian Telford made the trip on behalf of Ballyhegan - with Eddie Shannon and Reuben Speers gaining a first taste of indoor level after previous progress in the outdoor code.

Northern Ireland B - featuring pullers from both groups - dominated the closed 600-kilos class to lift gold, with the A squad home fourth overall.

Gold honours arrived in the open programme across the international club (640 kilos) and open club (580 kilos and 640 kilos).

A number of pullers from Richhill also took part in the championships.

The entry list included teams from England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Holland.

Ballyhegan members have now accepted an invitation to visit the Bilbao region of Spain on March 13 for a weekend competition.

“It was great to have players gain experience at such a strong level,” said Ballyhegan’s Brian Telford. “We had a number from the Northern Ireland finals unable to travel over to Scotland so met up in Ballygawley with Country Club for special training sessions in advance of the UK finals.

“We exceeded expectations and can use the UK experience to enhance preparations for next year’s Worlds.”