GREYHOUND racing in Cork received a huge boost this week after GAA legend Jimmy Barry-Murphy organised a special meeting at Curraheen Park to generate sponsorship for the Laurels.
The Irish Laurels is one of the most prestigious stakes on the racing calendar and the final is due to take place in mid-October. However, since an RTÉ programme investigating the industry Cork's feature has been without a sponsor.
A committee headed by Leeside legend and long-time greyhound supporter JBM is proposing to raise sponsorship for the Laurels from within the greyhound community and from businesses.
Barry-Murphy said: “I have long been a supporter of greyhound sport and felt compelled to step in to help Curraheen Park and its greatest competition in its time of need.
“Of course, it is the support of the greyhound folk and businesses which is key to making this work, but there is a great community spirit within the industry.
“I remember going to the Laurels on the old Western Road, and it has always had a huge status in the greyhound game in Ireland, second only to the Derby, and we’re very, very proud of that in Cork. I really felt that if the Laurels wasn’t maintained as the stake it has been in the past, we would all suffer, and the greyhound game in Cork would really die if that was the case.
“We think what we’re proposing to do is a great idea and will give the ownership of the Laurels back to the ordinary public in Cork. And I think they will come behind us."
A letter from the fundraising committee, which includes Tony Winters, JJ Fennelly, Michael O’Driscoll, Vincent O’Donovan and Damien Holland, said: “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 during 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 are “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.”