DRAGHUNTING will return on Sunday, June 6 when the Mayfield Harriers will host the first senior meeting of the season.
Like many other sports, draghunting has suffered in the last two years, but secretary Troy O’Mahony is adamant they have taken the correct precautions to ensure the safety of all their members.
“We have been careful as the health and wellbeing of our members is paramount and now, we are ready for action next month,” said Troy O’Mahony.
There is a change at the top table as outgoing chairman Damien Wade stepped down to be replaced by Adam O’Sullivan of Northern Hunt.
O’Sullivan, (30), grandson of former stalwart Garry will know that he will need to show leadership and work ethic as this position can be very time-consuming.
“The main thing for me is to bring the executive committee back together as I felt it has been divided in the last few years and having everybody singing from the same hymn sheet would be a huge plus,” said Adam O’Sullivan.
Adam is the youngest chairman ever in the history of the Cork City and County Harriers association and is adamant he will lead by example.
“I want to be a chairman for every club and as an executive we will uphold the rules if they are broken as there is no other way we can operate,” added O’Sullivan.
The loss of venues over the years has been very evident and the new chairman intends to address this problem.
“I want to try and get some of the old par courses back like Ballynoe, Rylane and Ballinagree as these were popular and excellent venues for all members.
“Following in the steps of my late grandfather makes me very proud and I intend giving it my best shot and hoping that my fellow committee members work hard for the betterment of the sport.”
In a year when there is a record number of Pups registered draghunting continues to prosper and clubs are looking forward to the season.
Clogheen were the dominant club last season and they will once again be strong contenders with some leading hounds.
The Damien Wade trained Slievemish Spring was an excellent front running hound in the last campaign and his trainer Damien Wade is hoping for another competitive season.
“I gave him a good rest as he’s a young hound, but luck plays a big part in our sport and hopefully, we will carry some for the upcoming months,” said Damien Wade.
Litter brother Jazzy Whizz is another quality hound and his trainers Ryan Duffy and William Freyne will be quietly confident of making a big impact.
Shanakiel Harriers were a strong force last season that culminated them winning the Senior All-Ireland draghunt with Captain James and they will be hoping this hound can repeat that performance for trainer Barry O’Keeffe.
The Southern/Carrigaline Harriers challenge will be led by the Dave and Damien Kidney trained Samantha’s Lass.
West Cork based IHT leading hound Penny Lane had a litter of pups but leading trainers Gerry Murphy and Sheila Cummins will have Northern Daisy and Northern Belle as their Senior contenders.
Northern Hunt trainer John O’Callaghan has always his hounds ready and this season Authority, Ability and Audacity will be carrying the hopes of his kennel.
The Griffin United club haven’t been competitive at Senior level in recent years and it will be interesting to see how last year's Puppy All-Ireland winner Melody from John and Sean O’Sullivan’s kennel will fare against the big guns.
Mayfield have had some very good years in the sport and Kyle McCarthy will be hoping his former All-Ireland winner Son of Mossy will return to his best form with Andrew O’Callaghan ‘s Midday Major also competing at Senior level.
Looking at the fixture list the first major meeting will be the Munster championships at a venue to be decided.
Credit to the families of some deceased members as they have taken up seven dates to pay homage to their loved ones.
Kenmare is a Kerry draghunt will a huge history and August 1 has been left open for this famous day with the IHT hosting their Senior draghunt the following day on August Bank Holiday Monday.
The Donal O’Mahony draghunt is a fixture that always attracts a huge attendance to Blarney and this year it will be staged on August 29.
The Echo remains onboard as media sponsors that will ensure top class coverage with Singleton’s Supervalu Hollyhill the main sponsor.
Tomas Singleton has been a wonderful sponsor to the sport of draghunting for many years and his generosity is crucial.
The Puppy All-Ireland draghunt will be held on September 26 and for the first time in many decades the Senior All-Ireland draghunt will run into the first Sunday of October.
Executive Committee: President-Christy Keating (Kerry Pike/Fair Hill Harriers); Chairman-Adam O’Sullivan (Northern Hunt); Vice-Chairman-Damien Kidney (Southern/Carrigaline Harriers); Secretary-Troy O’Mahony (Mayfield); Treasurer-Trina Long (Southern/Carrigaline Harriers).
Executive Members: Tristan Herlihy (Kerry Pike/Fair Hill Harriers); Paul Kenneally (Griffin United); Gerry Murphy (IHT); Aaron Freyne (Clogheen); Patrick Murray (Shanakiel).
June: 6th Mayfield; 13th Clogheen; 20th Griffin United; 27th Peter Barrett Memorial.
July: 4th Sean Walsh Memorial; 11th Northern Hunt; 18th Munster Championships; 25th Southern/Carrigaline Harriers.
August: 2nd IHT; 8th Garry O’Sullivan Memorial; 15th Shanakiel Harriers; August 22nd Johnny Carey Memorial; 29thDonal O’Mahony Memorial.
September: 5th Kerry Pike/Fair Hill Harriers; 12th Sonny Cummins Memorial; 19th Michael O’Mahony Memorial; 26th Puppy All-Ireland.
October: 3rd Senior All-Ireand.