Joint owners Noel Coote and Colin Barry
THE Irish Greyhound Derby reaches the semi final stage this Saturday and when Newhall Missile lines up in Shelbourke Park, it will be a particularly special moment for his joint-owners Noel Coote and Colin Barry.
24-year-old Colin, from Ennis, suffers from spina bifida and has spent over 150 nights in University Hospital Limerick.
Newhall Missile had been a 150/1 rank outsider before the Derby began, so making it to the semi final is even more special for its connections.
Following Colin’s 21st birthday – which was spent at Limerick Greyhound Stadium – Noel and Gerry launched Newhall Missile, Colin’s first ever greyhound.
He has always had an interest in greyhounds and his dad, Gerry, is lifelong friends with joint owner Noel Coote.
“The dog gives him something to look forward to every week. He’ll go through all the form from the weekend and look ahead through the draw. He’s sports mad anyway and to have this kind of involvement is precious for us all really. It’s a real tonic for him. The first night the dog won a race in Shelbourne was proof of that. He was stuck to the oxygen tank before that and has hardly gone near it since. It gave him some lift," said Colin’s dad, Gerry.
“He has been many nights to Galway too but spending so much time in hospital this year, Limerick track is only five minutes over the road so it has been a great break for him to get over to the track a few times. It does him the world of good. It’s a wonderful way for him to socialise. Sure he’d only be home watching sport on the telly otherwise. There’s also the competitive side to it and of course we all enjoy the wins but Colin has a very active mind so studying results and going through the form helps with passing the time in a hospital bed," explained Gerry Barry.
“Sure we may never have a dog for the Derby again, who knows?! Genuinely all we wanted to do was qualify the first night. There was almost a sense of embarrassment being in against such company but then he went and won. The joke at the time was that we had got our €300 back, we were covered! We even backed him last Saturday night, including my own dad Paddy at 87 years. I thank the stars that he’s well enough to enjoy it all," said Noel Coote.
Newhall Missile runs from stall 4 in the first semi final of the €300,000 BoyleSports Irish Greyhound Derby on Saturday night and is currently 12/1 to go all the way.