Stonepark Leo outlasts the field to claim Con & Annie Kirby Memorial honours

Mark O’Donovan and Stonepark Leo combined for victory at the final of the Con & Annie Kirby Memorial at the Limerick Greyhound Stadium on Saturday evening.

After five weeks of action ,the Castletown Ballyagran representative emerged on top winning the €10,000 prize.

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The John Rainsford bred dog capped off a brilliant week for young trainer Mark O’Donovan who claimed the Waterford Select Stakes on the previous Wednesday night with Skywalker Barry.

The Michael O’Dwyer owned Stonepark Leo outlasted the exceptional final field of De Machine, Agent Stanley, Ballymac Merlin, Singalong Sally and the pre-race favourite Explosive Boy.

As the lids opened it was Singalong Sally who showed narrowly in front from trap four with Agent Stanley in hot pursuit wearing the red jacket. However, making that anticipated dart to the fence in the early exchanges, the progress of Singalong Sally, along with Explosive Boy, was halted and it was Agent Stanley who quickly established a clear lead on the run to the opening bend. Meanwhile, Stonepark Leo had totally missed the kick from trap six but due to the surge for the inside by his rivals, he was granted the freedom of Limerick on the outer and Michael O’Dwyer’s black showed brilliant early pace and track craft to sweep the opening corner and sit second.

Heading into the back straight and the Marie Gilbert trained Agent Stanley held a narrow advantage from Stonepark Leo in second, with next best De Machine some seven lengths adrift of the leading duo back in third. Displaying the now customary back straight burst of pace, Stonepark Leo was in full throttle from bends two to three and with the added advantage of defending the rails, Mark O’Donovan’s charge stormed past Agent Stanley at the 750-yard box. At this point, Classic glory was well within his sights.

The generous sponsorship of JP and Noreen McManus once again brought the greyhound and GAA communities together and the following the competition generated over the past number of weeks from a social media perspective was incredible to say the least.

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Jack Neville