Wishing continued success to the UL Greyhound Society
A concept that was sparked in the young mind of Joe Sheahan when enjoying the benefits of his college horse racing society, the University Of Limerick Greyhound Racing Society seeks to bring greyhound racing closer to a younger generation and an enthusiastic group of members have made a significant impact on the Limerick Greyhound Racing scene since their official inception in March of this year.
A regular patron here on the Dock Road, Joe describes the initial formation of the syndicate and their vision for the future as the first society of it’s kind in Ireland.
Joe: “The idea originally came about around this time last year when I met Julie-Anne O’Keefe through mutual friends and both being involved in greyhounds we discussed the possibility. Having had the experience of the horse racing society in UL, we had a model to work with and began to gather some interest in a similar society for greyhounds.
“Really, we wanted to promote the sport to a younger audience and tackle some of the misconceptions that the general public seem to harbour about the sport. Also the welfare of greyhounds is very important to us and we wanted to help the Retired Greyhound Trust with their efforts to promote greyhound as pets. We all believe in the ethos of caring for greyhounds from a pup, through to the couch upon retirement and want to promote the welfare drive at every turn.
“When we first set up, we didn’t know how many numbers we could attract but there was enough interest to get it off the ground and the new college year now has brought first year students as members, so it looks like we are set to keep growing.”
Gathering for launch nights here at Limerick Greyhound Stadium and at Tralee back in March, the society has quickly grown and are already achieving many of the goals set out from the start. In the past weeks they have hosted their first Student Race Night here at Limerick and hope to build on that debut event as an annual highlight for the society.
Committing to their welfare push, they very recently organised a Retired Greyhound Stroll around the university campus which Joe describes as a huge success. “We were delighted with the response to the Stroll and so many students who knew nothing about greyhounds were amazed at how placid and friendly an animal they are. Everyone was stopping to pet them down and if they left with a different impression than they had beforehand, then it was a success.
“We got great support from Patricia Tobin and Mary Crotty who are just brilliant with the retired racers and also from Gain Feeds who sponsored bags of nuts for those with dogs on the day.”
The society are also getting involved on the racing front and currently have part shares in two runners, Mohane Odie at Tralee and Rastaboombasta here at Limerick but the first greyhound to bear the society name as full owners will hit the track in the near future. With training sponsored by the IGB, a 17-month old bitch pup by Paradise Madison out of Madame Emily has just entered full training and a competition is currently live on the society’s Facebook page to name their pride and joy!
|Members of the UL Greyhound Society at their recent Retired Greyhound Stroll|
Calling Limerick Greyhound Stadium the society’s home base Joe continues, “we are very grateful for all the help and guidance that we have received at Limerick. It’s our home track and we have one of our founder members on the Tote staff here, Susan Hayes along with Paul Maher who was a great help with the student night and he actually goes to Mary Immaculate so we have stretched beyond UL even. Following the student race night, Limerick offered free entry throughout the month of October to all third level students which was a brilliant gesture.
“In the coming weeks we also have a kennel visit to John Linehan’s in Blarney coming up which has been organised by society member Mark Linehan, his nephew and we are organising a trip to the Night Of Stars which has attracted some students who have never been racing before so that will be another opportunity to sell the sport.
“Ideally we are just hoping that we can continue to grow and as the first greyhound society of it’s kind in Ireland, create a model that can be followed by other colleges. Those of us in the society who have been involved in greyhounds know what a brilliant sport it is and how rewarding it can be to have greyhounds as both sporting and loving friends.”
A wonderful concept twelve months ago, the University Of Limerick Greyhound Racing Society have a been a breath of fresh air within the industry as they have quickly and passionately developed their concept into a successful promotional movement within the sport. Striving to educate the uninitiated while fostering existing greyhound racing links, they have made giant strides in a short period of time and all at Limerick Greyhound Stadium wish them continued success while awaiting the debut as their yet unnamed racer who is certain to enjoy a huge swell of support from her adoring owners.
IRISH DERBY CHAMPION 2017
Or here:- vimeo.com/235870326
Like most coursing enthusiasts, I have always enjoyed hearing stories or learning about the exploits of the wonderful people and greyhounds who leave every generation that come behind them a proud legacy from which to carve a path through coursing in modern times.
Being in my early forty’s, many of the older generation who shaped my own participation in the sport, the fellow members in our local coursing club during my grandparents tenure being chief among them, are now passed and have sadly taken too many old stories with them. I only wish I could readily recall every wonderfully entertaining anecdote or detailed recollection of a brilliant victory by historically famous, and not so renowned, canine legends.
However, I did recently learn much more about the 1937 Irish Cup winner Dutch Sandills when Noel Delaney of Roscrea, knowing he would spark my interest, entrusted me with photos and old Sporting Press newspaper articles about a runner who surely deserves to be remembered in those legendary terms.
The opening paragraph explains that the Irish Coursing Club had only just taken control of the coursing grounds at Clounanna the previous year and this was the first renewal of the Irish Cup under a covered stand. Of course the sport was far removed from what our park coursing offers today and the article describes the game hunting prowess of Dutch Sandills as the outstanding feature in the entire event.
Made to work harder than any runner in the event, Dutch Sandills overcame a heavy fall in his semi-final and would prevail in a hard fought final showdown thereafter but with the victory coming just eight weeks after winning the National Open title at Newbridge, the article gives due praise to what must be one of the finest coursing performances of all time.
Please do read the article below as it genuinely conveys the merits of Dutch Sandills’s victory and you will appreciate why the the trainer’s grandson, Noel Delaney, and his family do proudly retain all the information that they can garner from this brilliant win.
Dutch Sandills was owned by Fr. John Cleary & William Carroll and was trained for them by Jack Moloney in Roscrea. Jack passed away in 1991 when in his early 90’s so would just about still have been telling old doggy yarns when the Sporting Press covered the 50th anniversay of the victory in 1987. In the article there is reference to Dutch Sandills being visibly marked from barbed wire and Noel confirms that he had in fact gotten off the lead on Jack when preparing for the Irish Cup having spotted a cat while out walking!
Following on from Jack’s coursing exploits, Noel Delaney’s family had little involvement in greyhound ownership for many years despite both the Delaney and Moloney clan’s being ever present in Roscrea Coursing Club for generations afterwards. Noel explains that his uncle Liam did have an interest in an odd one here and there but it was he himself who revived the family coursing interest with the purchase of his very first dog, Legion Express.
Without a victory as a pup, Legion Express (Murtys Gang/Walk Away) won the Junction All-Age Cup at Tipperary & District in 2014 and in doing so would take Noel to the Irish Cup in Greenmount. Raising a flag in the first round of that event was clearly a proud sporting moment for the grandson of a former winning trainer with his very first dog and although defeated in Round Two, he would go on to reach the semi-final of the Irish Plate when defeating a Champion Stakes winner. Not bad for a first attempt!
Some time after the victory of Dutch Sandills in 1937, Bill Chawke had written a letter of congratulations to Jack Moloney on the Irish Cup victory when full of praise for the game hound. In possession of that letter at the 2014 meeting as her family returned with a contender for the first time since the famous win, Tess presented the letter to Gerry Chawke, almost eighty years on.
We all have our own individual stories in coursing and raising a flag in the local Duffer might be as significant for one kennel as winning a classic would be for another. At whatever level they compete, our coursing pride and joys carry our dreams whatever our own aspirations may be. They invariably give us memories and stories to cherish……..even if they can’t all be Dutch Sandills!
1937 Irish Cup Report
I wonder what did Excuse Me Sir do to merit an "inglorious display" in his semi-final defeat?....anyone know??
|1937 Irish Cup Winner DUTCH SANDILLS|
The excited pupils and staff of Gaelscoil Chill Dara were introduced to the school’s new canine friend, a greyhound named Cú Abú, this week. Legendary Irish broadcaster Micheál O’Muircheartaigh also attended, explaining the project to the pupils and sharing his experience of greyhound ownership. One of the aims of the project is to communicate through Irish where possible, and Micheál spoke in his native tongue to the pupils throughout.
Dublin Coach are sponsoring the greyhound for The Gaelscoil, located on the Curragh, and will work in partnership with GAIN, Newbridge Veterinary Clinic and Newbridge Greyhound Stadium over the coming year. Cú Abú will become a mascot for the school, providing an opportunity for learning about animal ownership and rearing, and helping the school’s fundraising efforts through prize money and a fundraising night at Newbridge Greyhound Stadium.
The greyhound is in training with Michael Murphy in Kildare and with the help of Dublin Coach all of the pupils were transported to his home for their first meeting with Cú Abú. The female greyhound is expected to kick-start her racing career in June 2016.
Phil Meaney, Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board added “It was such a pleasure to join the pupils of Gaelscoil Chill Dara on their first meeting with Cú Abú, and be part of the excitement at meeting her. For many of the children, this was their first interaction with a greyhound and it was a fantastic introduction to what gentle creatures they are. I hope the school have great success with their venture into greyhound racing and I wish them the very best of luck. A special word of thanks to John O’Sullivan (CEO of Dublin Coach) and the Dublin Coach Team for bringing this project to life”
Michael Murphy will work closely with the students of Gaelscoil Chill Dara to ensure the children have a hands-on experience on what is involved in owning and training a greyhound. Newbridge Veterinary Clinic will be providing free vet care for Cú Abú, and GAIN Greyhound Feeds are donating their feeds to satisfy her nutritional needs.
The Parents Association at Gaelscoil Chill Dara are heavily involved in the project and are busily preparing for a fundraising night at Newbridge Greyhound Stadium this summer. Details are yet to be announced but it is hoped that all pupils and their families will support the night, which promises something for all the family.
Master has decreed to take a break!
It is a continual insistence of mine that those in the greyhound world view the dogs as the real superstars of the sport but when a personality arrives and creates the impression that a young trainer like Pat Guilfoyle has managed since first having his public training licence endorsed in 2003, it is difficult not to view them in iconic fashion.
Striving for excellence at every turn, he and his family have raised the bar regarding the standards required to compete at the highest level. Held in the highest esteem among his peers, his kennels has attracted some of the most valuable and consequently talented racers of the modern era with owners in full knowledge that their aspiring champions would receive the most meticulous of preparation to fulfill all of their racing potential.
It may be argued by some that the Guilfoyle kennels have equals in the sport but any contention that they have superiors would border on insanity. However, having spent his youth with barely a minute to call his own, Pat Guilfoyle has come to a difficult but necessary decision as he turns 30 years of age and in an exclusive to the Nenagh Guardian, to whom he is continually grateful for coverage of his racing exploits and his recent receipt of the December Sports Award, he explains his decision to take a break from the sport.
Pat Guilfoyle; After much deliberation amongst my family I have decided in recent weeks to take a break from publicly training greyhounds for a few years. I have held a license for twelve years, since I was 18 years old and I have been lucky to handle some amazing dogs in that time such as Magical Captain, Ms Firecracker, Definate Opinion, Shoemakers Lad, Laughil Billy, Bolt and Duke, Newlawn Impact, Skywalker Rory, Belles Direction.
|Pat Guilfoyle with Irish Derby Plate winner & SPK 600 Yard track record holder Laughil Duke|
I never had the ambition to become a leading professional trainer but rather to train as a hobby. That hobby grew into a dedication not just from me but my whole family. Together we won an Irish Oaks, two Irish Cesarewitches, two Dundalk Internationals, an Irish St Leger, two Derby Plates, Southern Sprint and Southern Oaks at Youghal, Kudos Sprint and Oliver Chawkes at Cork, Champion Bitch Stake at Galway, Kennedy Cup, Con Kirby Memorial 550 at Limerick with Laughil Billy and numerous track records etc.
The personal sacrifices have been huge but far from regrettable because the memories and friends we made as a family along the way are priceless. All our owners eventually became valued friends. But as everyone knows, I’m a teacher by profession. I’d like to advance in my career and have plans to begin a Masters of Education this year and also to travel a little. Of course it was heartbreaking to see the dogs leave the kennels, especially Laughil Duke and Skywalker Rory. But this is a positive change and one we as a family are looking forward to.
Greyhound racing is a wonderful sport, the best of them all and I’ll still be involved in it. I would like to thank the owners who supported our kennel. And like I said, this is just a break. I’ll be back!
The Guilfoyle kennels, for the foreseeable future, will continue with family owned greyhounds and all at the Nenagh Guardian wish Pat the very best with his Masters Degree along with whatever else his new found personal time may bring. We will miss his presence in the major classic events of the sport that brought us such enthralling entertainment throughout his training career thus far and look forward to his return as one of the most influential figures in the entire greyhound racing world.
|The brilliant victory of Skywalker Rory for Pat & all the Guilfoyle Family in the 2016 Irish St Leger at Limerick.|
Julie O'Connell, Knocklong, Co.Limerick
Best of luck……
In any walk of life, especially a sports leisure industry such as greyhound racing which contests within a highly competitive market place, it is essential for future growth that young people can be attracted to our sport along with fostering those who have been born into racing families. Falling into the latter category is 19 year old Julie O’Connell of Knocklong whose name, like a breath of fresh air, brought a sense of reassurance when appearing on a recent race card at Limerick Greyhound Stadium as trainer, having recently taken out her private licence.
A vibrant and lively personality, Julie will be known to all the greyhound community in Limerick and the surrounding areas in both codes of the sport and is a member of Ardpatrick & Kilfinane Coursing Club. She begins her career as a fully fledged greyhound trainer with 3 track runners for now and is grateful to her two owners Jack Gallagher and Fr Dan Greene. She does however have a busy season ahead on the coursing field also with a total of 10 runners but graciously will allow her Dad and well known trainer Pat O’Connell to retain these under his name for now!
“We are going to be very busy. We have 7 pups and 3 for all-age. They won’t be under my name though, I’ll let Dad take credit for them!
He was kind of responsible for me taking out the license. He was hinting at it all the time and it was a lot easier to make the decision with that kind of encouragement. It’s not easy being up every morning for walking at 6am but when it has to be done, it has to be done!”
On completion of her Leaving Cert exam, Julie subsequently undertook a Horsemanship Course and, passing with flying colours has entertained the idea of becoming a Coursing judge. That is on hold for the moment but she admits that it may still be an option down the line.
Adding to the growing number of female trainers in the sport, this commitment to a career in greyhounds at her tender age is both essential and refreshing for the game. All the greyhound community will wish her well along with the many young people across the country who will task themselves with ensuring a healthy future for our chosen vocation.
Olive Murphy, Patrickswell, Co.Limerick
Best of luck to Cuchulainn’s Olive
Synonymous with Coursing in Co.Limerick, the Murphy Family of Patrickswell perennially host those seeking refreshment following Irish Cup action at their Cuchulainn Bar but there was more than just coursing to the forefront of their attentions over the past weeks as Olive Murphy prepares for a big date with the Cheltenham Racing Festival where she will ride Churchfield in the 12 runner St Patricks Derby Charity Flat Race on Thursday March 12th.
The event was open to any amateur rider who felt they could raise the required amount of at least £5,000 in sponsorship but the powers that be will delighted with their decision to select Olive for one of the coveted places as she explains, “we held a fundraising auction at the pub on Friday night of the Irish Cup which was a great success. We raised €5000 with Conor Murray’s signed jersey from the recent France game topping the auction at €800. This brings our running total to €25,500, so I’m absolutely delighted and it will be donated to the Injured Jockey’s Fund”.
Olive’s interest in greyhounds and coursing came through husband John Murphy, whose flagship brood bitch Maureen Rua was recently mated to Kilkeale Hero but there is also a coursing connection to her mount at the festival as she will don the famous green and gold colours of former Irish Cup sponsor JP McManus who owns Churchfield. Trained by Jonjo O’Neill, this ride will be always be remembered fondly by Olive whatever the outcome as her mount bears the same name as her own Mam’s homeland where she herself grew up.
Tadgh Feehan, Roscrea Co.Tippereay
They start them young in Roscrea!
Tadgh Feehan aged just six months keeps up to date with the coursing news in the Sporting Press.
Far from a set up, Tadgh actively demands the paper from his dad John Feehan in Roscrea every week, "well I can`t claim that he is actually reading it but he loves looking at the pictures of the dogs".
Tadgh will hoping to see some Roscrea qualifiers in the Sporting Press before Clonmel 2015, particularly from the kennels of Noel Delaney who went close in Nenagh with his Legion Spirit only narrowly denied in the Oaks TS semi-final when dad John was on catching duty.
Jimmy Quinn, Clarina Co.LimerickCommissioned by Limerick Greyhound Stadium for hare driver Jimmy Quinn's 40th anniversary of Irish St Leger work at the track.
Drive on Jimmy...... Mighty Quinn still driving after 40 years!
Limerick`s Irish Greyhound St Leger has enjoyed Classic status since it`s inception in 1944 but to remain as such and consistently deliver the level of excellence that lofty mantle demands takes a monumental effort from those people tasked with implementing all the elements needed to continually produce successful events. One of these figures to perpetually strive for the good of racing in Limerick and for the Irish St Leger is our hare driver tonight, Jimmy Quinn of Clarina Co.Limerick who this year celebrates his 40th year working for his favourite competition.
Jimmy hails from a family with a deep greyhound pedigree on both track and field with his three sisters and seven brothers being working members of Regional Coursing Club since first able to walk. They hadn’t much choice as for the past fifty years the meeting has been held on his dad, Ned’s, land and is continued today on the same grounds managed by Jimmy’s brother Donie. It was through the coursing that a fifteen year old Jimmy got his first work at the famous Markets Field venue in the city.
“Brendan O’Connell was the manager of the track at the time and sure he was a Clarina man, involved in the coursing at home. There was Pat Fitzgerald too the control steward so they got me work on my holidays to start with.”
“I`d just be covering the hare and stuff in the beginning and then i`d start taking the cards up to the judges box and things like that but coming from the farm they knew i`d be able for anything so the jobs got bigger. I learned plenty then helping Mike Moynihan doing maintenance on the track but I got another job when poor Frankie Holman fell down the stairs while writing up the results”!
“I was young and bold, I took my chance”
Although not responsible for any misfortune that befell his colleagues at this time, his first chance to drive the hare came in similar fashion as Jimmy explains, “shortly after that, the hare driver Pat Sweeney had a car accident and they had no-one to drive it but sure I was young and bold, I took my chance and i`m at the job since. So I’m working now for my 40th Leger and driving the hare for thirty nine of them”.
He has worked at most tracks around the country in his time, as relief hare driver or to guide new recruits on how best to maintain tracks and speaking with Jimmy, his love for the sport as a whole is clearly evident in every passage of conversation. He takes his responsibilities very seriously but reserves his greatest affection for Limerick and in particular the Leger!
“Ah the Leger has been fantastic down the years” he exclaims. “They used to come in their droves but sure that time they could drink n` drive and there was no matches on a Saturday night or anything like that, the place would be packed”.
“I remember one time Southampton were over to play Limerick in the Markets field on a Wednesday night but it was during the Leger and they had to put fencing and wire up to keep the football crowd ground off the track but long story short, there was steel nails sticking out of the walls after it was taken down. The following Saturday night was the biggest crowd I remember at the track and a right character at the time, Tom Coughlan, stumbled across one of these nails after a few lemonades and made a cut off his ear so with no doctor, the track vet, Ned Hodgins, another right character, said he`d have a look. There was so much whiskey going between the pair I don’t know how they did it but he got stitched up anyway”.
“it’s the people that keep you going”
“I could go on with stories, there was some funny ones down the years but sure don’t you know, plenty of sad ones too when you’re here as long as I am. I lost a great friend about ten years ago when young Shane O`Brien and his girlfriend Barbara Reeves lost their lives in an accident on holidays, he was only twenty eight years old. He used to drive the hare when I wasn’t around, we have a stake in their name every year now, that was tragic”.
“I`ve had enough of it myself too but you know, it’s the people that keep you going. You won’t meet a better crowd than the doggy people. Ninety nine percent of them are pure class and you can still get on with the contrary ones. Sure win, lose or draw i`d go and have a drink with them all. Just talk to people, it’s a great game”!
Apart from his work at Limerick, Jimmy says “the dogs keep me going” and still walks the family coursing dogs every day aswel as being a working member for Regional Coursing Club where he is now chairman. Even at the time of this interview he was on hand helping brother, Eamon, whelp down a litter of pups out of Mind The Net’s sister Mega Pearl by 2009 Puppy Derby winner Tullymurry Act.
“once it’s good close racing, I’ll be happy”
Favourite Leger winner? “I’d have to say Oran Jack. There was a great buzz around for him that year and the crowds just flocked to see him. He broke the track record twice and that was the same year that Tom Coughlan cut his ear”!
“I always enjoyed the local winners aswel though like Randy for Christy Daly and Firefly for Jimmy Kelly. Never Give Up was a brilliant win too for the Heffernan’s in Adare”.
Best Leger winner? “Probably The Stranger belonged to Christy & Liam O’Callaghan in `83. He was a big powerful dog, he wouldn’t care about bumps at the bend, he’d just plough through them and drive on, some dog”!
“Back in those times though the crowds were unreal, people just wanted to see dogs. You had great characters like Ger McKenna and all his great dogs, people used to follow him droves. The same with Matt O’Donnell and all his brilliant dogs, another great character to this day”.
Best dog you have seen in the new track? “I’d probably go for Boylesports Hero, not just for his pace but he also had a great track sense, even if he didn’t lead, he knew how to get a run but you would have to mention Locnamon Bridie too, she was a special bitch”.
Prediction for this year’s Leger? (at semi-final stage) “Once it`s good close racing I’ll be happy, you want a bit of a buzz but if I have to pick, i`ll go for Emers Superstar. He`s breaking well at Limerick and I liked him in the Con & Annie Kirby. I had a look back at his form when I saw he got trap 1 and he has 28.33 done from the inside at Limerick so that looks good for this week anyway”!
Patrons, please join us tonight as we extend our sincerest thanks to Jimmy for his continued endeavours within the Greyhound Industry.
From all your colleagues past and present, your many friends, all owners and trainers who have benefited from your hard work throughout a wonderful association with Limerick racing and the Irish St Leger, we wish you a happy 40th this year and look forward to many more in your safe hands.
Thank you Jimmy!