Friday 24 March 2017

Farewell to training legend Matt O'Donnell

There were some impressive performances in the first round of the Red Mills Unraced Stake at Clonmel (Stock picture)
There were some impressive performances in the first round of the Red Mills Unraced Stake at Clonmel (Stock picture)
Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

Irish greyhound racing lost one of its greatest servants yesterday with the death of Matt O'Donnell (82) from Killenaule in County Tipperary.

O'Donnell was an institution in Irish greyhound racing and he dominated the track scene over many years.

He took out his first training licence in 1968 and for the remainder of his life he turned out champion greyhounds over all distances.

His Killenaule kennels housed some of the greatest household names of the sport and, along with wife Frances, he ran the most feared establishment in the business.

Right from the start, O'Donnell made headlines.

One of his greatest achievements was been getting five dogs through to the Produce Stakes final back in 1978 and they duly filled the first five placings, led home by Always Kelly.

His ambition in life in those early days was to win either the Irish or English Derby and after many close calls he final managed to land the Irish Derby back in 1990 when The Other Toss raced to a glorious victory.

He followed up a year later with Ardfert Mick and then produced the comrades Batties Rocket and Batties Spirit to finish first and second in the Derby final of 1995.

He wasn't finished there as he turned out Skywalker Puma to win the Irish Derby in 2012.

Of course, he also won an English Derby final with the great Farloe Melody in 1992.

His list of successes would fill this page but he received the ultimate award from the sport when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

Greyhound racing is truly indebted to the man who would have celebrated his 83rd birthday next June.

We offer sincerest sympathies to his wife Frances and children Mary B, Jennifer and Matthew.

Tierna fastest

There were some impressive performances in the first round of the Red Mills Unraced Stake at Clonmel and, as predicted, the fastest winner was trained by Dolores Ruth.

It was her Razldazl Tierna which clocked the night's fastest 28.53 rather than Razldazl Duke. Tierna led from the first bend when beating Mustang Noplan by six lengths.

The big talking point was the running of Razldazl Duke which endured all sorts of difficulties in Heat 5 and still managed to finish third. He stumbled badly leaving traps and then stumbled again when challenging on the third bend.

Irish Independent

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