Barry Drake

The Friends and Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing have announced that they have extended their sponsorship of the Laurels from the initial four-year period to five, to include the 2023 renewal also.

Having had a surplus after the initial sponsorship, Greyhound Racing Ireland agreed to make up the shortfall which will allow the group to sponsor for a fifth year. The Friends and Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing group is headed by Cork GAA legend Jimmy Barry Murphy and this will come as welcoming news to greyhound fans all over the country.

Frank Nyhan, Chairman of Rásaíocht Con Éireann, welcomed the announcement saying “The Laurels is the biggest racing event in Cork and one that holds a special place in the heart of greyhound people both locally and further afield. The extension of the sponsorship from the Friends & Supporters of Cork Greyhound Racing is testament to the strength of the sport and the commitment of the people involved.

On a week when Jimmy Barry Murphy was honoured for his contribution to our sport, it is fitting that we have such positive news around the sponsorship that he spearheaded. Jimmy, Tony Winters and all involved in the sponsorship are to be commended and applauded for their ongoing work.”

On this week's Talking Dogs on Thursday Podcast, Barry caught up with Tony Winters, Jimmy Barry Murphy and Brian Collins (Racing Manager at Curraheen Park.)

Winters said: “We got over €110,000 in a period of three weeks, so we sponsored the Laurels for four years. It showed the goodwill that was there for greyhound racing and, from start to finish, it was a huge success.

“We approached the board, told them we had the surplus but were short a sum of money, and asked if they would make up the shortfall.

“There is great credit due to all sides – great credit to the board, who gave us the required money, and to the track management, who gave us all the help we needed, but all the credit goes to the people who gave us the money. None of it could have happened without them, and that’s the bottom line.”

Barry-Murphy, a recent inductee to the Greyhound Racing Hall of Fame, said: “It’s great that we came to an arrangement. It just ties up everything.

“We’re looking forward to the crowds hopefully returning over the next few months as the pandemic starts to ease. We hope we’ll all be back out there to create a fantastic atmosphere for the Laurels again.

“We also have to put on record that the board has done a great job steering us through the pandemic and introducing the welfare aspect of the game. That is taking a huge part of the whole sport – and rightly so.

“And we have to recognise that we have a huge part to play, all of us. Every one of us who owns a greyhound, from the minute you breed them or buy them, you’re responsible for their welfare, their maintenance through their racing career, and if they don’t make it as a racing dog, then you’ve got the responsibility of finding them a proper home and that’s the way it should be. There should never be a situation where a dog does not have a home to go to.

Collins said: "It's fantastic news and in difficult times, it's a huge boost. It's a brilliant effort from all the committee and everyone who contributed."