The seventh annual running of one of the world’s richest juvenile greyhound races, the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Stake, was launched at Limerick Greyhound Stadium yesterday.
The past six years of the competition have seen Limerick GAA clubs share in the event fund, with each of the 72 greyhounds in the event assigned to a GAA club. The winning greyhound’s assigned GAA club win a nominator prize of €10,000 and a free benefit night at Limerick Greyhound Stadium.
Sponsored by Noreen and JP McManus in honour of her parents, Con & Annie Kirby, the competition has the biggest prize fund in Ireland after the Irish Greyhound Derby, with a total fund of €160,000. Limerick GAA clubs avail of €20,000 of this prize money.
The event is seen as a platform for young greyhounds to go on to Derby success, with Rural Hawaii, Ballymac Matt and others winning Derby finals in recent years having firstly been involved with the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Stake.
For the second year running, the Sean O’Connor Cup – named after the late Claughaun GAA club member – will be run featuring 24 runner up greyhounds from the first and second rounds of the competition.
Speaking at the launch, Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, Frank Nyhan, said: “The Con & Annie Kirby is a wonderful highlight of the racing calendar and the kind support of Noreen & JP McManus cannot be underestimated. The events acts as a stepping stone for Ireland’s rising greyhound stars and creates a strong market for young dogs. There is a fantastic tradition of greyhound racing here in Limerick that dates back to the Markets Field days. The Kirby is a winning combination of two great Limerick passions – greyhound racing and GAA – and we look forward to the 2019 event being one of the most exciting Kirby Stakes yet.”
Mike O’ Riordan, Secretary of the Limerick County Board, added: ‘The Con and Annie Kirby is certainly one of the highlights of Limerick’s sporting year. Its staging providesmuch needed support to our GAA clubs, our greyhound industry and to Limerick Greyhound Stadium. It’s a fitting tribute to the memory of the parents of Noreen McManus. Limerick GAA has a long and proud association with the McManus family and greatly appreciates their ongoing support and unwavering generosity to all our GAA teams. “
The Pat-Buckley trained Droopys Davy won last year’s event, with Cappagh GAA taking home the spoils. The club have subsequently begun work on a walkway around their pitch that will benefit their rural community.
PRO of Cappagh GAA, Cormac O’Shea, said at the launch: “It’s paramount that we had this money because this work wouldn’t have been able to go ahead without it. The Con & Annie Kirby Memorial is an absolutely fantastic competition. It was an eventful year for the GAA club here in Cappagh. The night the dog won, we had over 100 people in the stadium. The event gave people in the parish an interest in greyhound racing that they may never have had before.”
The Con & Annie Kirby Memorial Stake will run for five consecutive Saturdays, beginning on Saturday March 23rd. The final will take place on Easter Saturday, April 20th.
Kirby Memorial prize money:
€80,000 (and €10,000 to assigned GAA club)
€20,000 (and €5,000 to assigned GAA club)
€10,000 (and €2,000 to assigned GAA club)
€5,000 each (and €1,000 each to assigned GAA club)