The Irish Independent, Ireland's leading newspaper, is the new sponsor of the Irish Laurels which will commence at Curraheen Park in Cork on Saturday, April 11.
The decision to take over the sponsorship of one of Ireland's most important greyhound competitions reinforces the commitment of the newspaper to the Irish greyhound industry.
There was a terrific reaction to the news at yesterday morning's launch at Curraheen Park where Arlene Regan, marketing manager of the Irish Independent, made the announcement to a group of representatives from the greyhound industry.
Ms Regan said: "The Irish Independent is delighted to be sponsoring the Irish Greyhound Laurels in Curraheen Park Greyhound Stadium.
"The title has long been associated with providing top sports content for our readers and this is a great way for us to reinforce the range of our coverage. We consider this partnership as a key way to engage directly with not only the greyhound racing community but to the various audiences that attend a night at the dogs for social events and nights out."
In welcoming the Independent Group aboard as a major sponsor, the IGB chairman Phil Meaney said: "Our intention from the outset was to attract a new sponsorship partner for Curraheen Park which would assist in bringing the Irish Laurels to a nationwide audience.
"We are delighted to partner with the Irish Independent and we believe that this sponsorship will deliver a highly effective platform for the Irish Independent to communicate with its customers as Curraheen stages one of Ireland's truly great greyhound competitions."
The Laurels dates back 70 years to 1944 when the classic was first run at the old Western Road venue over the then distance of 500 yards.
That first winner was Robeen Printer and, giving an indication of how the sport has changed and track surfaces have become much quicker, the final was won in 28.98 which is almost a second slower than the Laurels dogs will be doing over an extra 25 yards this year!
Down in Cork the Laurels would be regarded as the Derby of the south and nothing is more popular than a local winner.
The last such winner was Sevenheads Bay which raced to victory in 2009 for John O'Regan from Butlerstown. The celebrations that night were the stuff of legend.
The most famous winner of the Laurels, of course, was Spanish Battleship which raced to glory in 1955. The great Battleship has a unique place in Irish greyhound history as a three-time winner of the Irish Derby - in 1953, '54 and'55.
The Irish Independent Irish Laurels will have a winner's prize of €30,000 from a prize fund of €65,000. It will commence on Saturday, April 11 and will continue each Saturday until the final on Saturday, May 9.