Since the first day I went to Galway Track, I have developed a huge interest in greyhounds, but, to be honest, everything I know about dogs and everything I have achieved is totally down to PJ Fahy. He has helped me out tremendously and most of the winners we have had are Tyrur breeding.
I started going to the odd meeting in Galway and I quickly got to know PJ. I would occasionally help him out with his dogs for trials and the likes. Anyway, I started training a few dogs and the biggest thrill I have had was very early on with a bitch called Gone To Mirah.
She won a number of races at Galway and I was thinking of aiming her at some of the bitch events. PJ said to go for it and I entered her for the Champion Bitch Stake at Thurles. She won the second round, semi-final and then the final and what a thrill that was; I was truly over the moon. About five minutes after the race the phone rang and it was PJ on the other end. She also won the Open Bitch Stake at Clonmel during the National Meeting a few months later. We were really buzzing then.
I got Kilbannon Tess from PJ – she is a litter sister to Tyrur Big Mike and McGuigan. She represented Galway in the Inter Track at Longford and won the Open Bitch race and then finished second in it the following year.
I was top private trainer in Galway in 2010 and '11, finished second in 2012 and then was top again last year with my best ever figure of 85 winners. It was enough to put me at the top of the national list also.
Most of my dogs would be good graders and, with most of them from the Tyrur line, I suppose I would only have a third of those winners if it wasn't for the Tyrur breeding.
I basically train for the family and for a few friends. It is hard for people to have greyhounds in training now – many just don't have the money.
I love the sport, I get a great buzz out of it, but then the entire family are involved, the wife and the kids all help out. If I am going for trials or anywhere I would have plenty of help between the kids and my brothers, the van would be well filled.
I have kennels for between 20 and 30 dogs and at the moment three are 15 in training.
The new year has started pretty well and we had a double in Galway on Friday. They are doing a good job in Galway and the track is always very well maintained.
We have bred from Gone To Mirah and Kilbannon Tess and there is a nice litter to Makeshift. I believe in giving them plenty of time and would only present them to the track at 18 to 20 months.
The best race I ever saw was the night Big Mike beat McGuigan in the Derby final.
If there is one thing I would like to see, it is for qualifying trials to be held before racing.
A lot of owners and trainers have a long haul to get to the tracks and then they have to wait until after racing for trials and they get home very late. It is tough on them.
* John McDonagh from Tuam has only been involved with greyhounds for six years, but was the number one private trainer in Ireland in 2013.