MANY people will want to forget 2020 but for Clogheen Harriers it proved to me a memorable one as they dominated the Cork City and County Harriers draghunt season.
The club was founded in 1945 and it is fitting that 75 years later they are still on top of their game.
Looking back on the founder members that included Christy Buckley, Gerry Roche, Dan OMahony and Dan O’Connell they were always proud of their discipline.
In 1959 the club purchased Harper from Manny Ahern from Ballyfeard and their investment came up trumps when this hound trained by Christy Buckley won the Senior All Ireland draghunt at Liscarroll.
There is a wonderful connection with this hound as the late Maurice Ahern is the late uncle of the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
To be fair all clubs can look back at some wonderful members that have gone to their eternal rest and I am sure Clogheen will never forget the contributions of Christy Buckley, Bobby Byrne, Tommy Twohig and Dan O’Mahony to name a few in the eighties.
Characters is a title that many former greats have associated with them and who could forget that famous Sunday back in September 1976 when the Tommy Twohig trained Bandrake Boy won the Senior All-Ireland draghunt at Blackpool.
The success of the Clogheen club is down to the families of late members who have strived to keep the operation running.
The Buckley family are probably the best known for their contribution to the sport over many years.
In 1986 Credit trained by Michael John Buckley showed a great turn of foot to win the Senior International as he crossed the tape ahead of Lombard from the Northern Hunt club.
Michael John would later train the winner of the 1992 won the Puppy All-Ireland as Murdock was crowned champion in style.
In the noughties Michael acquired a hound called Hawk who was a talented hound and he produced probably the best hound that he ever trained called Merlin.
Over the last five years Michael John took a step back from the sport but the club have enticed him back when they purchased a pup who will run under the name of Mermaid next season.
“I am retired from work now so I thought training a hound would fill a few hours for me and to be honest I am enjoying it and hopefully we can have some fun and enjoyment because that’s what the sport should be all about,” said Michael John.
The list of quality hounds produced by Clogheen is endless and the Buckley family also had the champion bitch of 1984 when Bandrake Melody under the guidance of Denis Buckley produced some magnificent performances.
In 1991 Denis was back on the winners rostrum when Bellview Boy won the Senior International at Blarney as he saw off Shiner and Nice’n Easy.
Over the years the father and son partnership of Joe and Gary Freyne have had a number of quality hounds like Not Now Norman and Not Now Man.
Indeed the Freyne family are an integral part of the Clogheen club with William and grandson Ryan Duffy now training promising hounds Jazzy Whizz and Viper Whizz.
Aaron Freyne son of Martin joined the sport three years ago and has made a big impact in the training ranks with Jamie’s Lady who was crowned champion hound and bitch of 2020.
When people talk about quality finishing hounds in the years to come surely the name of High Max will be high in the pecking order.
Trained by David Lynch the Clogheen hound was a leading hound in the noughties who produced masterclass finishing that saw him crowned champion hound and win the Senior International in 2006.
Damien Wade is another Clogheen stalwart who has made a huge contribution to the sport and after three years in the role of chairman of the Cork association he will not be standing for reelection in 2021.
In Cork there is a famous saying of ‘hurlers on the ditch’ and that’s usually associated with some of the criticism given to hard working people on various executive committees but Damien was never found wanting when it came to hard work.
“I can honestly say I gave it my best shot and now it’s time for some fresh blood as working as chairman is a very demanding role that acquires plenty of time and voluntary hard work,” said Damien.
In the training ranks the first hound of real class that Damien trained was Tara’s Express who won the Senior International at Stuaic in 2000.
In recent years Damien acquired a top- class athlete in Slievemish Spring who finished runner up in the Senior championship this season and was crowned All-Ireland Senior Heats winner in Portmagee.
There is little doubt Clogheen have been an example of how club structures are the way forward as they continue to lead the way with a good age range in their membership.
Club president John Allen a lifelong member continues to keep an interest in the northside club as their dominance in the sport was very evident throughout this stop start season.