Saturday, January 29, 2011


What a excellent Paper this is..........yet another first class article telling us the truth about coursing and what it means to Families and communities

Pasted from todays....


GOD’S own country, that’s north Kerry, from Tralee to Tarbert, from Ballybunion to Listowel and to Castleisland beyond.

God’s own people too, close-knit, community-driven, and yet for all that, they’re also outgoing, friendly, hospitable. Right in the heart of it, and personifying all of the foregoing, sits little Lixnaw.

It’s coursing country, north Kerry, has been for millennia, and the tradition is carried on to this day. On Monday next the eyes of the parish will be on Clonmel, the Annual National Coursing Meeting, on the Oaks especially, and on one bitch particularly. Call Her Now is joint-owned by Lixnaw natives John O’Keeffe and Pat ‘Bawn’ McCarthy, trained by John Kelliher in Tralee, and has long been one of the favourites for the Oaks, which carries a very lucrative purse for the winner.

But this isn’t about money, welcome and all as that purse would be in Lixnaw! It’s about prestige, about parish pride, and as the two men from this particular parish — the Examiner — pulled into the spacious yard of the local coursing field to carry out this interview, this quickly became evident.

Riding shotgun to help us locate the field (it’s a couple of miles outside the village, up a tiny boreen) was Patsy Lynch, the renowned ‘clock-man’ from nearby Tralee; there to greet us was John O’Keeffe himself, along with his wife Liz and daughter Julie-Ann, his brother Con and his young son Conor, and local men Maurice Galvin (an uncle of footballer Paul’s, who lives only a stone’s throw away) and Michael Barry; trainer John Kelliher was also there, having brought Call Her Now along for the show.

An impressive animal, without question, beautifully-muscled, lovely lines, and John K has her in peak condition after her brilliant win in he Corn na Féile in Abbeyfeale.

Impressive also was the place itself, the Lixnaw coursing field, owned and developed, lock, stock and covered stand, by the people themselves.

So, in an era when more and more people are inclined to do less and less to help themselves, when central government – so it seems – is expected to provide all things for all men, women and children, how did a little parish like Lixnaw come to own outright one of the finest coursing fields in the country, complete will all facilities?

We’ll let John O’Keeffe start us off: "It was in ‘92 that we bought the field, paid only £40,000 for 15 acres and we have no bad conscience about that, it was the going price! In fact there was another 15 acres going as well and that was the mistake we made, we didn’t buy it all."

Okay, £40,000 for 15 acres was something of a bargain, even back then, but it was also a considerable sum, and for a small coursing club especially.

So, how did they raise the money? "Well, you know Donie O’Connell, the fella who names his dogs backwards? We were coming back from the Kingdom Cup the year after buying it, Donie was having a pint in Ned’s (McElligotts in Abbeydorney), and he says to me – ‘Jaysus ye were brave men! Ye had £35 in yere pockets between ye, and ye spent £40,000 on a field!’

I was quick enough for him – ‘20 or 30 years ago,’ I said to him, ‘Ye sent a man with 900 pound in his pocket to buy a field and he failed!’

And that’s true – they had the money and all, they had the field picked out, and I don’t know what happened but they didn’t get it anyway."

Still hasn’t answered the question though – how DID they raise the money?

"There’s been a Coursing Club in the parish since 1928, and we happened to own the old dancehall in the village – I’m not sure how we came to own it, but we did, and we used to hold our fundraisers for the coursing there down the years. When we bought the field here we sold that, raised a few bob that way.

"Then Martin (Galvin) started a club Lotto, €2 a week, which we shared with the GAA club, six months each every year – that will show you the link between the GAA and ourselves. Clonmel (the ICC) gave us great help too, there was a grant scheme in place at the time, 75% funding, and we took advantage of that – the right men in the right place at the right time!"

Far-sighted and all as the project was, however, ambitious as it was, it met with opposition within the parish. There was the location, for starters, so far outside the village. Couldn’t be helped, says John. "We were already in a fantastic field in the village, over in Ballyhorgan, but what those who were against the move didn’t know we was that we were destined to lose that field anyway. There was nowhere else suitable available — you can’t make a coursing field, it either is or it isn’t, and you can’t put a field in to a village if it’s not there already. We looked around and this was the most suitable place, and thankfully it all worked out."

All that was there originally was the field itself and the farmhouse, which has now been transformed. The house is a multi-purpose affair, with a meeting-room adorned with old photos and newspaper cuttings – history looking over your shoulder, so to speak – along with a kitchen cum dining-room, and a bar of sorts, where we were greeted with a very welcome hot whiskey on arrival.

There’s also a huge car-park, an all-weather gallop, and at the top of the field, a covered stand. "A pile of work," says John, "And a pile of money gone into it, but when it’s broken up over 20 years, it’s not too bad. All voluntary labour too, every bit of it, including the stand, which was put up in the evenings."

"I find them a great club," says Johnny Kelliher; "Wherever you meet them they’re all together, and they pull together, working the one direction, and that makes a huge difference. And they have some great young fellas involved too – when it comes to catching the hares, I’d ask Mark, Johnny’s son ‘Are ye ready?’ ‘Oh, they have the nets all out,’ Johnny would say, ‘Only waiting for the day!’

"I’ve often said, I’d love to live out here, with the dogs. It’s so quiet and peaceful, no noise –an ideal place. I came up here a few years ago with Johnny, coming from a trial somewhere – there were all the hares, lying out on the field, lovely and peaceful. And they get the best of hares here, the very best – I don’t think there was a one of them touched at the meeting this year."

Of course, having a fine field and all the attendant facilities is fine, but of what use if you don’t have dogs to match?

Well, in Call Her Now they certainly have that. From the moment he saw her John O’Keeffe knew she was something special, and so it has proved. She won her own Trial Stake, in Lixnaw, a doubly-celebrated feat in any Coursing Club, then went on to beat the best of the boys when winning the prestigious Corn na Féile in Abbeyfeale over the Christmas, so that now she is second favourite behind only Gadget Girl to go all the way in Clonmel.

"Pat Bawn bought her mother from Bridie Conway in Lixnaw — he bred her, and another man, a friend of his out in Meath, pupped her down for him.

"He told me one day: ‘There’ll be a pup there for you from that litter!’ – I was delighted. He arrived one day from Dublin, a little dog-box on to the back of his Nissan Micra, and this fawn bitch jumped out of it. The very second I saw her I said to myself – ‘There’s something very special about you’.

" She was about seven or eight months at that stage, a real quiet little greyhound, a pet you could say, but there was something special about her from the first time I saw her.

"I can’t explain it, it’s just the way they’re built I suppose.

"I bought my first greyhound in 73, she was a fawn bitch too, a very good bitch, won about 14 races on the track; she was the first one I had that looked so like that one from 73, just something about the way she was built, and this was before I ever ran her."

Her first run out was just a spin, in the first of several meetings on the bounce in north Kerry, in Kilflynn, and without any specialist training she won two rounds there, was denied only by a controversial call in the third.

That’s where John Kelliher came in. "We had a plan, John and myself," says John O’Keeffe; "I didn’t mind working with her while the evenings were still long, but with Kilflynn over she was going to John for full-time training."

And of course John Kelliher knew what he was getting. "She showed a bit in Kilflynn, her first outing. She met a bitch of Lester Power’s in the first round, I was up the field; she walked out of slips, gave up three lengths straight away, and by god didn’t she pick her up about halfway up the field.

She wasn’t as bad to away in the second round, up against Con Guiney’s bitch, came out a small bit better but still Con’s bitch was gone – picked her up again. The further up the field she was going, the better she got."

In other words, made for Clonmel.

It takes an awful lot of hard work and attention to detail to get a dog to Clonmel in peak condition and both Johns were eager to acknowledge the part played by a Corkman - ‘muscle man’ Mick Galvin who makes regular trips to the Kingdom to ensure all is in order with Call Her Now for the Powerstown challenge.

It can be lonely at the top, in certain sports; not in coursing, where friendship abounds even in the cut and thrust of competition, and certainly not in Lixnaw and north Kerry, where John O’Neill, Pat ‘Bawn’ McCarthy and John Kelliher will have not just a whole parish but a whole region behind them, should they reach the final this coming Wednesday. Perhaps, even, the gods will be there.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, January 29, 2011


National Coursing Meeting

Monday 31st Jan, Tuesday 1st Feb and Wednesday 2nd Feb

Judges: Liam Kelly and John O’Connell

Slippers: Tom Murphy and Richie Quinn

 this years official.....Richie Quinn , John OConnell,  Tom Murphy and Liam Kelly
Start 11.30am each morning.

MONDAY: First Round Oaks. (Interval) First Round Derby. First Round Spirit of Mischief Stakes.

TUESDAY: Second Round Oaks. Second Round Derby. (Interval). Third Round Oaks. Third Round Derby. First Round Kitty Butler Stakes. First Round TA Morris Stakes. First Round Keen Laddie Stakes.

WEDNESDAY: Complete card


Last week,  I  paid a visit to the kennels of Michael and Marie Fields
Its hard to imagine a more perfect spot for a coursing kennel..........only a mile from the Irish Cup venue
on the outskirts of Patrickswell villiage.......great access to good roads, but set on a peacefull farm 

If you click this link it will take you too a excellent article from the


Michael & Maire with Clonmel Qualifiers
Ranger...Tanyard ....Basil....King

All qualifiers were looking in outstanding condition . The Fields have had a season you would dream about
all pups were brought in and home reared and their strick rate has been amazing

They long longer farm their land but have full acess for training the dogs
a super 400 yard gallop runs up a nice incline, with ray timing and a drag lure....this is not used all the time.


Kyle Basil
Champion Stakes contender

Kyle King
Qualified at Regional
16/1 and in the 3rd quarter

Kyle Ranger
Qualified at Glin
14/1 and in 2nd quarter

Kyle Tanyard
Qualified at Newcastlewest after Newinn Turbos withdrawal
33/1 in the 1st quarter

Kyle Ranger ....full of himself

Select pups are bought in a reared each year

its been a season to dream about

I would like to thank the Fields for my lovely day...........and wish them well at Clonmel

Hare Coursing Classics Club Champion Stakes 2011 preview