Frank O'Meara: Stage set for another great Laurels in Cork
In The Kennels
Down here in Cork, the Laurels is the biggest event of the year. It is the competition that the entire season is built around.
This is my second Laurels since I joined up with Curraheen in July of last year.
It is also the second year of the Red Mills sponsorship and the relationship has gone very well so far. The sponsors were delighted last year and they tell me that they have very strong sales in the Cork area.
I knew the Laurels was big, but last year's event was a real eye-opener. It was brilliant and it worked out well right through.
There was Ballymac Vic's record run and then we had a local winner in the final and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing.
This year is also looking very good and we are starting off with a really top class entry. What I found last year was how fast it goes once it gets under way. It should be even better this time round as our attendances are actually up this year.
The final night is always sold out, but I have no doubt it will be a similar story on most of the other nights also.
It was a big blow when we heard that the All-Ireland final replay would clash with the second round on Saturday week, but we hope to get over that by staging a Family Night here on that day. The gates will open at 4.0 to allow people to watch the hurling game in comfort. Admission will be half-price up to 5.30.
I don't have a background in greyhounds. I was born and reared only a mile from the track in Bishopstown and we would have been into rugby. My brother Brian played for Munster and Leinster and was capped for Ireland. I played a little rugby also, but wasn't as good as the others.
I had been at the track before and was even at the Western Road venue.
Since I have come here I have found all the racegoers, owners and trainers very good to me. It is a real family sport, everybody appears to be enjoying themselves and everybody knows everybody else.
My last job was in the construction industry and things were going very well until the recession hit.
We were managing to survive, but I fancied a change and saw the Curraheen job advertised and decided to go for it.
I like it here and I find it encouraging that people want to come to the stadium, despite the problems.
We are getting good feedback and I am delighted that the Five-Year Strategic Plan has been launched.
It's a great industry and with the economy showing signs of turning the corner, I am very confident that the next couple of years will see the good times returning.
* Frank O'Meara is sales and operations manager at Curraheen Park, which will host the Red Mills Irish Laurels over the next five weeks.