Matt and Belle enjoy first time contest victory

Alan Irwin and Belle. INLT 24-400-PR
Alan Irwin and Belle. INLT 24-400-PR

A Ballycarry dog owner put up a fine performance against Irish champions to bring home his debut competition prize last weekend.

Matt Irwin, from West Street, topped the open section of the gundog competition at the National Countrysports Fair, in Moira, with 28-month-old Belle.

Matt told the Larne Times that he had been encouraged to take part by a third place victory earlier that day in the novice section of the competition.

“If it had not been for me blowing the whistle too much, she would have won it,” he claimed.

He went on to say that he realised his mistake and changed his technique for the second attempt.

Matt noted that Belle, a black and white Springer Spaniel pup, had been competing against 15 other dogs in each category. The competition was organised by the Ulster Gundog League.

He said that he too had been a novice in the sport and admitted that he “did not know much about dogs”.

“I am completely new to it all,” he admitted.

Matt explained that Belle had been successful in retrieving 12-inch “dog dummies” made from canvas thrown by the judges which she had not seen previously.

Her proud owner said that she had been quicker than any of the other dogs and on her second attempt in the “seen retrieve” category,

Belle had also been successful with the task and had stood still as expected on completion.

“The other dogs were sniffing about and could not find the dummy,” he remarked.

“You have to blow a whistle to get the dog to stop and turn the right way. Belle is completely new to this.”

However, he said that Belle has had previous success in “flushing out” pheasants locally.

“I was told that she had good potential for gundog competitions,” Matt said.

Belle has been handsomely rewarded for her performance with a prize of dog food, rosette, while Matt received a trophy.