Ger McKenna, the legendary greyhound trainer from Borrisokane, passed away late on Wednesday night.
In what has been a tough few weeks for the greyhound community following the passing of Seamus Graham, the loss of another truly influential and legendary figure will be much lamented.
McKenna won basically everything there was to win — most of it on more than one occasion. The Leger proved a particular favourite, from his first, Prince Of Bermuda in 1956, to his 12th and last, Moran’s Beef in 1984.
He won the Irish Laurels no fewer than seven times and, when speaking to Redmills at Curraheen Park in late 2012 (video available on Youtube), he nominated Denis Lynch’s Knockrour Slave, which he handled for the greyhound’s second victory in the stake, as probably the best dog he ever trained.
Own Pride (1969), Bashful Man (1973 — first to break 29 seconds) and Rathgallen Tady (1987) gave McKenna three victories in Ireland’s premier classic, while the frustration of a number of near-misses finally turned to elation when Parkdown Jet gave McKenna a first English Derby, in 1981. Lartigue Note added a second eight years later. Two other notables were Tubbertelly Queen, winner of the Waterloo Cup in 1984 and Nameless Pixie, winner of the track Oaks in 1979
An Irish Oaks, two Produce Stakes, four wins in the Cesarewitch, two National Sprints as well as other successes in England, including an English Laurels with Concentration in 1990, were just the highlights of a training career which sets the standard. McKenna passed on much of his talent to his son, Owen, who gave Ger one of his proudest moments when training Like A Shot to land the Irish Derby in 2004. Our thoughts are with his wife, Josie, and sons Ger, John and Owen.
Reposing in Bushy Park Nursing Home in Borrisokane between 4pm and 8pm this afternoon. Requiem mass in St Peter and Paul’s Church, Borrisokane, at 12 tomorrow.
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