Whilst talking to IGB chairman Phil Meaney, prior to the start of the Greyhound Forum at Curraheen Park just a couple of months ago, I suggested that the time when the IGB would no longer need a presence on RTÉ’s Aertel service was not far away, but that the time had not yet arrived.
At that stage, there was consternation amongst the more senior members of the greyhound community who, having depended on that service for so many years, felt cut off by its disappearance from our TV screens.
It was, perhaps, a more accurate indication of where we are as a nation than one could ever have expected. It reiterated the fact that we are in that period of transition: That time in which the tech-savvy won’t look back, and the old school struggle to look forward.
But we’re moving ahead at a fantastic rate, and the greyhound community is trying hard to keep up. Further evidence of that came in the week just gone.
Last Friday, when Youghal greyhound track unveiled its refurbishments, there were cameras on hand to record both the action and reaction. The night was unanimously positive and, for those enthusiasts unable to attend, the flavour of the meeting was captured in a 20-minute video diary, available to view on social media site YouTube.
There wasn’t an angle, and the internet doesn’t impose time constraints, and so what we have is a very well-composed summation of the night. From informative chat about the history of Youghal track, to the night’s action and talk of the future, it’s more than could be conveyed in a thousand words.
Sure, it wasn’t RTE 2, TV3 or TG4. It was a low-budget production, commissioned by Connolly’s Red Mills, presented by Aoife Corrigan, and directed and produced by Lar Sutton.
Like paper never refused ink, the information superhighway never refused a video, and we all know that the internet can be very forgiving. But it needn’t be. If you understand the motive and appreciate the limitations, this works. And works very well.
It’s a grass-roots look at greyhound racing, from ground level. As with all advancement, it’s dependent upon some degree of financial backing and, thankfully, John Geoghegan, of Red Mills, was quick to spot the potential in it, and is equally keen that his company remains involved in such projects.
“Lar Sutton does this every night in Enniscorthy, which is a private track, and we sponsor quite a bit down there and so we decided to get involved,” explained Geoghegan.
“Lar and Aoife are greyhound people and they understand what other doggy people want from the videos. They’re very easy to deal with, understand the sport very well, and get a great reaction from people. I warmed to Lar very quickly and immediately felt we could work well together.”
But there’s got to be a commercial upside. There isn’t a company in existence will put money into a venture without expecting a return, and Geoghegan feels Red Mills get due reward.
“What we get from it is a positive reaction from people, and goodwill, which is very important to us,” added Geoghegan.
“We see this as an opportunity to give something back. We don’t put it in your face. We like to keep it at ground level, away from the restaurants, and down with the doggy people.
“These are the real greyhound folk and, from our perspective as a company, these are the people we need to sell our products to. It also gives a boost to the tracks themselves.”
Posted under the YouTube account RedMillsFeed, there is archive footage from previous race nights from around the country, as well as some excellent and very informative kennel visits with the likes of Matt and Frances O’Donnnell, and Phil Gough, as well as an interview with the legendary Ger McKenna, and footage of all the rounds of the Red Mills Irish Laurels.
The result is a channel which provides the greyhound community — the tech-savvy ones, at least — with greater access than ever before.
“Our only problem now is that we’re looking for a reason to be everywhere,” added Geoghegan. “The Youghal video from last Friday night got over 500 views in the space of just a few days, and that’s increasing all the time.
“Those viewers aren’t just ordinary people, stumbling across the videos. They are a people with an interest in the sport, and potential customers. It’s the way media, technology and business are moving and we’re very pleased to be part of it.”
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