Monday 11 December 2017

Maestro Ger McKenna defined a generation

Michael Fortune

Michael Fortune

Following so quickly on the death of Seamus Graham, the news of the passing of the great Ger McKenna has come as a real blow to the Irish greyhound industry.

All the older generation of greyhound followers would have grown up during the reign of the maestro from Borrisokane in County Tipperary.

Ger dominated the Irish tracks along with his cousin Gay McKenna, but Ger extended his empire beyond the boundaries of this island and was as well respected across the water as he was in his native country.

His list of achievements is quite awesome and he was winning Classics over a spell of 40 years.

He bagged his first Classic at 26 years of age in 1956 when the legendary Prince Of Bermuda won the Irish St Leger, a Classic that McKenna was to win an amazing dozen times up to his last success in 1984 with Morans Beef.

He won three Irish Derbys with Own Pride, Bashful Man and Rathgallen Tady and won two English Derbys with Parkdown Jet and Lartigue Note.

Ironically, he will probably be better remembered for the English Derbys that he didn't win, at times robbed by the cruellest strokes of bad luck.

He leaves behind him a rich heritage and, of course, his son Owen carries on the training mantle and is already a Derby winner in his own right. Indeed, Owen is firmly established as one of the leading trainers in the country.

Our sympathies go to wife Josie, sons Ger, John and Owen and brother Tony, who is a former member of the Irish Greyhound Board.

Reposing today between 4.0 and 8.0 in Bushy Park Nursing Home in Borrisokane and funeral mass tomorrow at 12.0 in St Peter & Paul's Church in Borrisokane.

ENGLISH DERBY

Owen McKenna's assistant Damian Lonergan will be on duty at Wimbledon tonight where Farloe Calvin (8.42) contests the opening heat in the second round of the English Derby. He can win the early battle with Newlawn Impact but Gizmo Classic could be a threat in the closing stages.

Best of the other Irish hopes this evening are Bubbly Gold (9.32), Metro Jack (10.03), Graduation Day (10.18) and Barefoot Scholar (10.35).

TRALEE ACTION

Always With Me (9.28) can get back on the winning trail in the second semi-final of the Lee Strand 550 at Tralee this evening, although he has to overcome a tough draw where he is outside his main rivals Soviet Kenny and Hooverville.

With the injured Ardfert Tee Jay an absentee from the first heat, McKenna's Vanfrankie (9.13) has an excellent opportunity of following up last week's victory in a second heat where Movealong Sonny could be the one to take advantage of Ardfert's absence.

Meanwhile, there's a classy card at Harold's Cross with the heats of the Peggy Kellys Islandbridge Sprint the headliners and a few worth noting are Isabels Boy (8.10), Crown Champ (8.25) and Clydal Jack (8.40).

Irish Independent

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