Becky Mullally from Laois placed 3rd in the small dog category when she joined a team of junior dog agility athletes and their dogs to represent Ireland in the 2020 Open Junior Agility Championships in early February in Northampton.
The team of 11 teenagers, ranging in age from 12 to 17 years of age, competed in this fast-paced sport against hundreds of competitors from all over UK and Ireland over two days.
Becky Mullally is 15, from Portarlington and she competed for her first time at OJAC this year with her Toy Poodle Georgie (2 ½) and placed 3rd in the small dog category.
The duo are also competing in the world renowned dog show Crufts in early March.
Agility is a sport where dogs compete against the clock to negotiate obstacles guided by their handlers. A judge designs a course with up to 20 obstacles.
The obstacles are numbered and the handlers walk the course, to plan the best route.
The obstacles can include hurdles, a tyre, long-jump, weave poles that the dog has to slalom around, tunnels, and ramps (A-frame, dog walk and see-saw) that the dogs run over.
The handler must direct the dog around the course, taking the obstacles in the correct order, without making contact with the dog.
Like show jumping, faults are accrued for mistakes and the round is against the clock.
The winner is the handler and dog with the least amount of faults in the quickest time.
The winner is the competitor who completes the course with the fastest time and fewest faults.
It tests the dog’s fitness and the handler’s ability to train and control the dog off-lead.
It is open to dogs of all sizes and breeds, including mixed breeds and rescue dogs.
The Irish Junior team worked tirelessly over the last few months to prepare for the championships and travelled to Swords every weekend to train in all weathers.
The team is coached by volunteer trainers from the Dublin Dog Training School, including Dublin Dog Training owner John Ward, trainers and senior competitors Olivia McGovern and Dee Doyle, and former world agility competitor Michael Byrne.
Trainer, Olivia McGovern, says: “The team trained so hard and are very well prepared and participating in OJAC is a fantastic experience for all our junior handlers.”
The team consists of: Rachel Owen, age 12 from Drogheda and dog, Rocky (6 years).
Holly Dunning, age 15, from Cavan and Shetland sheepdog, Poppy (4 years).
Sisters Kayleigh (age 16) and Aisling (age 12) Lawlor from Rivermeade, Dublin and rescue dogs, Punch and Rusty.
Tara Doyle, age 17, from Balbriggan and rescues Hari (6), Flo (8) and Gracie (7 years).
Paul Hannon, age 17, from Dublin and terrier cross, Ivy.
Gráinne Devaney, age 17, from Sligo and five year old Border Collie, Beauty.
Abby Ward, age 16, from Dublin and Marley (4 years).
Rosie Quinn, age 15 from Louth and Magnus, a two year old Cocker Spaniel cross, and Paddy, a five year old Jack Russell cross.
Sofia Forsgren, age 13, from Dublin and three year old Border Collie, Frida.
Becky Mullally, age 15, from Co.Laois and 2.5 year Toy Poodle Georgie.
Agility was first introduced to the UK at Crufts 1978.
It is a highly popular sport in Ireland with hundreds of competitors from across the country competing weekly in both summer and winter leagues.
Each year there is fierce competition to win a place on the Irish team for the World Agility Championships.
This year’s World championships are to be held in Estonia in September and the Irish team have been selected and are already working tirelessly towards it.
We wish them the very best of luck!