COUNTDOWN TO LAURELS UNDERWAY AS 2021 EVENT LAUNCHED IN CORK

Barry Drake

Jimmy Barry Murphy and Friends launch the Irish Greyhound Laurels in Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium.  

In 2019 a newly formed committee, led by legendary Cork GAA figure Jimmy Barry Murphy and called the ‘Friends and Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing’ made the decision to raise the sponsorship contribution for the Irish Greyhound Laurels.  

A local and nationwide “call to arms” was made to individuals and businesses and the response was phenomenal.  Funding was pledged to not only guarantee the event for 2019 but, when all contributions were received, an incredible five years until 2023. 

From L – R Tony Winters (Fundraising Committee), Frank Nyhan (Chairman of GRI) Richie O'Regan (Advisory Council), John Linehan & Runninta Seeya (winners of 2020 Irish Greyhound Laurels), Ger Dollard (CEO GRI), Jimmy Barry Murphy (Chairman of Friends of Cork Greyhound Racing) and JJ Fennelly (Fundraising Committe) at the launch of the 2021 Friends of Cork Greyhound Racing Irish Laurels.

Today the committee gathered once again to launch and oversee year 3 of the sponsorship of the Classic.  Jimmy said at the launch “The Laurels continues to be the highlight of the racing calendar for us here in Cork and has an impressive first place prize of €30,000 up for grabs.  We believe that it is second only to the Irish Greyhound Derby, and we look forward to 5 weeks of top-class racing. Once again I wish to thank all of those who along with Greyhound Racing Ireland have guaranteed the prize-money for this Classic competition until 2023." 

Chairman of Greyhound Racing Ireland Frank Nyhan said, “I wish to pay tribute to the commendable work of the Friends of Cork Fundraising Committee who, with the financial support of Greyhound Racing Ireland, have guaranteed sponsorship of this prestigious event to 2023. I know how important this competition is to the Cork greyhound community with its long tradition back to 1944. We are very pleased that, with the relaxation of Covid restrictions, greater attendance will be permitted for this year’s event. Interest in the 2021 event is very strong and we look forward to an excellent event over the coming weeks”. 

In 2020 the final proved itself to be a competitive affair with the popular John Lenihan trained Runninta Seeya winning after an exciting photo-finish final!  This year an equally competitive event is anticipated.

The 2021 Laurels will begin on Saturday, 25th September and will run for five consecutive Saturdays, with the final hosted on Saturday, October 23rd.   

From L - R  Brian Collins (Curraheen Park), Frank Nyhan (Chairman of GRI) Clr Michael Hegarty (Advisory Council), John Lenihan & Runninta Seeya (winners of 2020 Irish Greyhound Laurels), Pat Herbert (GRI), Jimmy Barry Murphy (Chairman of Friends of Cork Greyhound Racing) and Vincent O'Donovan (Fundraising Committe) at the launch of the 2021 Friends of Cork Greyhound Racing Irish Laurels.

Editor Notes: 

The Irish Greyhound Laurels has a long & proud history in Cork, as the premier racing event of the year. 

It was run for the 1st time in 1944 in the old Western Road track over a distance of 500 yards.   

Robeen Printer was the first winner in a time of 28.98.  This year marks the 77th running of the event.  

There have been some notable winners including Spanish Chestnut who won back-to-back titles in 1949 and 1950.  He was owned by the famous Timothy "Chub" O'Connor, A Fianna Fail TD for Kerry South who also owned the famous Spanish Battleship, the 3-time Irish Greyhound Derby winner who was commemorated with a plaque in Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium in 2005.  Spanish Battleship also won the Irish Greyhound Laurels in 1955.    

2009 was another very special Laurels final when the roof lifted from the stadium when Sevenheads Bay, owned by John O'Regan from Butlertstown, Co. Cork crossed the winning line.   

2011 was memorable year when the now famous greyhound Razldazl Rioga, which was presented to Michael O'Muircheartaigh on his retirement on The Late Late Show, won the Irish Greyhound Laurels. 

Video: Launch of the 2021 Irish Laurels

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