IN FOUR weeks’ time, the Irish Laurels will begin at Curraheen Park. Last year’s event was won by Rockybay Foley, who is trained by Tracton’s Kieran Lynch for owner, Chrissie Slyne.
Rockybay Foley has won 22 of his 30 career outings, but last year’s famous victory, in the feature final, will go down as one of the greatest nights ever at Curraheen Park.
That night, Rockybay Foley made Lynch the first Cork trainer to win it since the Christy O’Callaghan-trained Standard Image in 1995. All records are made to be broken and the 23-year gap was bridged on July 13th, as a huge crowd gathered at the Cork track.
Rockybay Foley hasn’t raced since winning the Drive On Tipp Open final, at Curraheen Park, back on June 1, when he posted an incredible 27.96. However, he did trial well on July 27, flying around the Curraheen circuit in 28.06.
Lynch told the Echo: “I’m not long back from the vet and he got the all-clear again. We will just keep tipping away with him now and aim him at the Laurels again.
“We can’t wait for it and we’re hoping it will be even bigger this year, with the brilliant Jimmy Barry-Murphy behind the Laurels.
“I think he is after pulling in great sponsorship and this is just fantastic for greyhound racing in Cork. To have a man like Jimmy Barry-Murphy behind the Laurels is unbelievable.
“A hero and the man is one in a million. He’s one of the nicest, politest men I’ve spoken to in a long time. What he’s doing for the racing game is unbelievable.
“Every Cork man is getting behind the Laurels.”
Kieran hopes to get a race for Rockybay Foley at his Curraheen Park prior to the Laurels, but if that’s not possible, he could have a spin around Shelbourne Park.
As alluded to by Lynch, a committee headed by Cork GAA legend and long-time greyhound sport supporter, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, is proposing to raise sponsorship for the Laurels from within the greyhound community, and from businesses, to ensure the competition will continue to be part of the racing programme.
A letter from the fundraising committee, which includes Tony Winters, JJ Fennelly, Michael O’Driscoll, Vincent O’Donovan and Damien Holland, has asked for sponsorship from businesses: “Any contribution would be most welcome, and the amounts contributed will be entirely at your own discretion.”
In return for the contribution, the committee is happy to offer businesses advertising, either for the duration of the Laurels or on the night of the final. Of course, any desire for anonymity will also be respected.
Relating to individuals, the committee is “asking for contributions of €100, or more if possible, from friends and supporters of greyhound racing in Cork.
“In return for €100 support, you will receive complimentary admission to all rounds of the Irish Laurels in 2019.
“It is also proposed that all contributors are entered into an open draw, with each Laurels entry being assigned to a lucky contributor. The winning nominator will then receive a €1,000 cash prize.”
All contributors will receive an acknowledgement in the official race programme on Laurels final night on Saturday, October 19.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy said: “I have a huge passion for greyhound racing and there is a strong greyhound community here in Cork.
“Cork has more greyhound owners than any other county in Ireland. We are asking for contributions from our friends in the greyhound fraternity, and the business community, to help with supporting the 2019 Irish Laurels.
“Any and all contributions will be most welcome, however big or small.
“By pulling together, we can ensure the Laurels will be a successful showpiece and continue to remain a highlight in the greyhound racing calendar.”