THE Greyhound Industry and Limerick GAA came together this week to launch the fifth staging of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial in Limerick Greyhound Stadium.
The event offers €160,000 in prize money, with €80,000 on offer to the winning greyhound.
And, six GAA clubs will also share in a €20,000 prize fund.
The Con & Annie Kirby Memorial, sponsored by JP and Noreen McManus in memory of her late parents, begins on Saturday March 11, running over five weekends to the final on Saturday April 8.
First run in 2013, the event became an instant success, and is now recognised among the Greyhound Racing community as a great nursery in the sport, a stepping stone for rising stars.
Since its inception, many of the great champions of the past four years have been involved in the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial.
The winners of the last four Irish Greyhound Derbys, Slippery Robert, Laughil Blake, Ballymac Matt and Rural Hawaii, all contested the Limerick event in their juvenile year.
Champions from all sectors of the sport have been Con & Annie Kirby Memorial graduates including Clares Rocket, legendary female Ballydoyle Honey, Oaks winning Witches Belle, Select Stakes winner Riverside Oscar and Derby finalists Cable Bay, Vulturi and Emers Superstar.
It is expected that 72 greyhounds will be in the Tuesday March 7 draw for the first round in Limerick.
After the trap draw is made, each of these greyhounds will be assigned a nominated Limerick GAA Club.
As the competition continues, the nominated GAA Clubs will progress with them, until ultimately just six clubs remain on the final night.
The previous winning GAA clubs are Bruree, Fr Caseys, Galbally and Monagea.
“It’s a privilege to welcome sponsors JP & Noreen McManus, and this event, to Limerick Greyhound Stadium for their fifth consecutive year. At the launch of last year’s event, I spoke of the competition underpinning the future of our racing industry,” said Chairman of the Irish Greyhound Board, Phil Meaney at Monday’s launch.
“Without a doubt that is visible today with the calibre of names on show who have gone on to make their mark on a national and international stage. With the addition of the Bitch incentive this year, the competition is growing ever more appealing to would-be contenders,” said the chairman.