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Cup winners return to Clonmel with another Murty

In a relatively short time on the coursing scene, members of the ATM syndicate from Clarecastle have achieved a lot.
To say that they have been prolific winners is putting it mildly as between 2002 and the present season they have won the Derby, Corn na Feile and several trial stakes with a haul of 17 cups. Quite a coursing feat, especially as they have not put too many dogs through their hands during that time.
When they make the trip to Clonmel next Monday will be a return visit in every sense of the word as Murty’s Return is the name of the dog they hope will bring them further Derby honours.
The South Clare qualifier will be representing the now well established ATM Syndicate of Anthony Daly, Tommy Howard and Michael Daly from Clarecastle and trainer, Gerry Holian, who are no strangers to the winner’s arena on final day in Powerstown Park.
The history of the ATM-Holian association goes back to the 2001-2002 season when the Clarecastle syndicate acquired Murty’s Gang (Hilltown- Cillowen Blonde) which was bred by the late George Gallery senior from Rockmount, Ennis.
The fawn was dispatched to the Holian kennels in Athenry and the rest is history. He won a trial stake at Limerick City (32) and, before his trip to Clonmel, he was entered for the Patsy Byrne Corn na Feile Derby in Abbeyfeale. This was a bigger test for the fawn but the stamina, speed, strength and courage that were to bring bigger honours to the ATM camp before the end of the season, were there to be at the Limerick fixture.
He won Corn na Feile when beating Tonned Up in the final and was now a more serious contender for Clonmel. The Corn na Feile fixture, always seen a great pointer for Clonmel, ran true to form at the meet and it was celebration time all round for the connections of Murty’s Gang.
It was an all-Clare final but Cillowen Harbour, a litter brother of Murty’s Gang owned and trained by George Gallery Snr, had a gruelling time in his semi-final win against Oncelovedalass and, after veterinary inspection was withdrawn from the final.
It was a great achievement for the ATM syndicate, new boys on the block, and an auspicious start to their coursing career. Since then they have won quite a number of trial stakes and cups with the likes of Murty’s Gang, Murty’s Goal, Murty’s Blaze, Mutty’s Destiny, Murty’s and now Murty’s Return. While a major win has not come their way since Clonmel 2002, they have always been in the picture and are hoping that Murty’s Return will see them back in the big time.
Gerry Holian makes no secret of the fact of how important the Derby 2002 was for him and how it transformed his whole coursing business. He said that, up to then, he was not very well known nation wide as a trainer up until then but that situation changed dramatically following Murty’s Gang win and the success of other dogs owned by the ATM syndicate.
The Holian name has since been associated with more famous victories in Clonmel, including that of Woodpark Rebel, owned by Johnny Quin, Woodpark, Newmaret-on-Fergus, in the 2008 final of the Champion Bitch Stakes.
Clonmel 2010 was his crowning glory and he was the prouduest man leaving Powerstown Park after a brilliant strike rate.
He travelled there with four runners, three of them reached finals and he travelled home with two major big wins. He had in his kennels: Adios Alonso (Janey Mac Aroo-Eoin Bui) winner of the Boyelesports.com Derby; Cleanaway Smurf (Behill Eoin-Uptown Smart), owned by West Clare’s John O’Donoghue and Finbar O’Connor, Millstreet, who won the final of the Grace Bruton Memorial Champion Bitch Stakes and Blades of Glory, who was runner-up to Cleanaway Smurf. Not a bad piece of work for one day.
His fourth runner, the Adare owned Go Nina, was withdrawn after winning her opening round in the Hotel Minella Oaks. After this achievement, his hopes must be high as he heads off again to the South Tipperary town, this time with eight runners.
In the Derby he has Murty’s Return, the MiltownMalbay qualifier Aristo Emperor, owned by the Aristo Gang syndicate from Clonlara, Re M e Martin (Limerick city qualifier), Gypsy Rover (Liscannor qualifier), Killimor Maye (Killeanaule) and KilpeaconAsh (Westport winner) In the Oaks he has Johnny Quinn’s Woodpark Blaze who goes to Clonmel with the Cooraclare ticket and Clogher Road who won at the Tubbercurry for Alphonsus Tubridy, Mullagh and Dr Paddy Kelly, Mullagh and Mullingar.
As regards his chances of another Derby win, this time with Murty’s Return, the Athenry trainer says that he was an impressive trial stake winner at Cooraclare, beating a very good dog, Hobsons Choice, on the way. The dog trained hard and was doing everything right.
He commented on the luck and success of the ATM syndicate and how much they have achieved with one dog per year.
For his part, Tommy Howard of the syndicate acknowledged the Gallery family from Ennis and trainer Gerry Holian for the parts they have played. He said that when acquiring dogs in the past their card was marked for them by the late George Gallery senior and this was continued by his son, George junior.
He said that they were indebted to the Gallery family and Gerry Holian.

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