Dedication marks Christy Keating’s career as he goes down as one of the greatest draghunt trainers ever

Dedication marks Christy Keating’s career as he goes down as one of the greatest draghunt trainers ever

Christy Keating and his dogs at Clogheen. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

THE famous Kerry Pike Harrier club was founded in 1823 and it’s success in the sport of draghunting since then has made them the most powerful club in the sport today.

Try and imagine, if you can, the lifestyle of 1823.

People at that time, spent most of their time around the house fire simply enjoying (or tolerating) every minute of each other’s company.

There were no cars, TV or radio or telephones and street lighting were powered by gas.

People basically lived simple lives.

At this time the sport of draghunting was founded to help pass the long days and to keep the youth of the time amused and busy.

Over 200 years later the sport is still alive and well and has produced many legendary trainers, none more so than Christy Keating, arguably the greatest trainer of all- time.

Christy was born in Kerry Pike in 1949 and it was the late Tim O’Connor who introduced him to the sport.

For the last 62 years his dedication has seen him train winners in every major event.

In 1964 Keating trained his first hound called ‘Rambler’ as Keating learned his trade well and within two years, he was producing winners.

The Kerry Pike club purchased the second ever hound from Cumbria in England to come into this country.

The hound named ‘Thornlea’ certainly made his mark in Irish draghunting.

After winning numerous draghunts, ‘Thornlea’ was crowned champion hound in 1966 forced injury this hound to be retired as Christy looked back on that time with sadness.

Garry O'Sullivan, chairman of the Cork City and County Harriers Association announcing the winners of the All-Ireland Draghunt at Ballinagree. Included from right, Christy Keating of Kerrypike Harriers with Mason, winner, Garry O'Sullivan, North Hunt, Patzy, Andrew O'Callaghan, Owenabue Harriers, Keep Calm and Carol Duggan, Cork, Bright and Breezy. Picture Dan Linehan 
Garry O'Sullivan, chairman of the Cork City and County Harriers Association announcing the winners of the All-Ireland Draghunt at Ballinagree. Included from right, Christy Keating of Kerrypike Harriers with Mason, winner, Garry O'Sullivan, North Hunt, Patzy, Andrew O'Callaghan, Owenabue Harriers, Keep Calm and Carol Duggan, Cork, Bright and Breezy. Picture Dan Linehan 

“We did everything we could to get him healed but a stifle injury is one of the worst a racing dog can get, and, in the end, he eventually lost the fight and had to be retired.” 

Christy soon overcame that disappointment and in 1974 he began training Cargate Laddie.

This partnership proved to be unbeatable over the following years with this hound winning the Senior championship in 1976,’77 again in 1978.

One of the few titles to elude this supreme hound during this period was the Senior All-Ireland championship where he finished runner up on three occasions.

Cartgate became the first hound to win the inaugural International match between Ireland and England in 1975.

greatest hound ever seen in this country.

To this present day, when you mention his name to Christy he fills up with emotion.

When Cartgate passed away in 1984 the Keating their bungalow in Kerry Pike after the great hound and later their newly built house in Clogheen.

In 1983 Keating trained another Senior International winner with Montego Bay and to the present day holds for training International winners.

In 1997 Christy struck gold once again when he purchased a puppy from England that he named Mason.

In his debut season as a puppy he notched up 22 wins.

When Mason stepped up to the Senior ranks in 1998, he broke all records as this supreme hound won the Senior championship, Munster championship and the All-Ireland title to become the first hound to complete the Grand Slam.

The same year Christy’s hound also won the Senior International and after achieving so much in the sport he has never forgotten what allowed him to become so good at his chosen sport.

It all began for Christy when he met Marie in 1974 and two years later, they were married and blessed with four children Louise, Karen, Christopher and Daniel.

Behind every great man, is a great man and Christy is no different as he summed the contribution his wife made over his illustrious career.

“Credit to my wife Marie she has been a rock and I could not have achieved my successes without her contribution.

“In the sport of draghunting you have got to have the right hound and the adage that you cannot train a donkey to become a classic winner is very true and it’s the same with hounds. 

“I also think you have to be kind to your hounds and if they are good enough, they will repay you.” Christy Keating has set the records in draghunting and although presently not having high-flyers in his kennel his love for the sport hasn’t waned.

His contribution to the sport will never be forgotten and he remains the best draghunt trainer this country has produced that rightfully puts him into the Leeside Legends category.

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