For many people, Rockybay Foley crossing the line to win the Laurels in Curraheen Park in July is their highlight of Irish greyhound racing in 2018, for all sorts of reasons.
For trainer Kieran Lynch, to win the Classic colloquially known as the ‘Southern Derby’ at his local track was extra special.
“Rockybay Foley will always be a star in our kennel,” he says about the 2018 Laurels winner. “To win the Laurels in our local track was amazing and he’s not done yet. We’d be hoping to have a crack off it again next year with him. That would be the ultimate dream. Hopefully we’ll have a few more to go with him, all fingers crossed.”
Kieran’s pride when speaking about the greyhound, often affectionately shortened to ‘Foley’, is obvious. "Every dog has their own personality, but this fella lively. He’d pull you from the minute you come out to the kennel until you get to the gallop. He’s got fierce strength, he’s a high dog. The minute he goes in to Curraheen Park or Shelbourne Park, he kennels fantastic, he kennels absolutely superb. He’s a beautiful dog. When he settles down he kennels brilliantly. ”
Indeed, Foley could have been considered unlucky in both the early rounds of the Boylesports Irish Greyhound Derby and the Night of Stars in November. “People will say that he didn’t take to the track, but only us in the kennel would know the dog wasn’t 100%,” Kieran says. “We probably rushed him back for the Night of Stars, a one off chance for €10,000. It was great to run against the best dogs in the country. He’s in great form now, we nearly have him back 100%, so we’ll be all systems go with him again. I’ve nothing planned out for next year but I’d be hoping to keep him to Curraheen Park. That’s where he loves, it’s only 25 minutes up the road so he doesn’t have a whole lot of travelling.”
Butterbridge Bex, who was named Sprinter of the Year at April’s Greyhound of the Year awards, has a special place in Kieran’s kennel too. “They can never take that away, him being sprinter of the year, it was massive for the kennel,” Kieran reflects. “When I look back on his card this year, he had 11 wins, which is phenomenal. I know we’re in December but he’s not finished yet. We’re looking forward to next year with him.”
Kieran says despite the success with Bex and Foley, there’s no secret: “If the dogs are good, they’re good. They’re easy ones to train. The good dogs will do everything you ask for them, same with a few more at home.”
If Kieran had one wish for 2019, Kieran says anything close to his success in 2018 – kennelling arguably two of the strongest dogs in the country – would be excellent. “You can’t win at all but to win the Laurels again would be something amazing. You’d love to win them all but that’s not going to happen! Once we can get a few winners I’ll be happy, to win a Classic again would be fantastic, but if that doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen. I just hope to have a good 2019 again.”
LISTEN: Kieran Lynch's full interview can be heard here.
WATCH: Rockybay Foley's victory in the 2018 Laurels in Curraheen Park can be rewatched here.