Another big season in Cullybackey HPS

I think Cullybackey is near enough the final season review of clubs that compete in both the MAC for individual members of the club, and the once big Section B.

'Wee Sarah' Black Cheq (h) GB19C-01173 winner 1st Club Cullybackey, 1st MAC, 2nd Section B & 7th Open NIPA St Malo OB National 419/1980 - Vel 725 -  Miles 481 Raced by McAlonan Bros.
'Wee Sarah' Black Cheq (h) GB19C-01173 winner 1st Club Cullybackey, 1st MAC, 2nd Section B & 7th Open NIPA St Malo OB National 419/1980 - Vel 725 -  Miles 481 Raced by McAlonan Bros.
'Wee Sarah' Black Cheq (h) GB19C-01173 winner 1st Club Cullybackey, 1st MAC, 2nd Section B & 7th Open NIPA St Malo OB National 419/1980 - Vel 725 - Miles 481 Raced by McAlonan Bros.

When I started to write notes Cullybackey Flying Club under the late Ernie Leckey was one of the largest clubs competing in Sect B. That was before several local longer flying lofts formed the Rasharkin & District. I can well remember the club sending 1,000 birds to a young bird event in the 70’s and Cullybackey also had, and continue to have a great long-distance tradition and over my time have brought the famous Kings Cup back to the village on two occasions. Alan Darragh won the race in 1986 from Jersey and is the current record holder winning 7 x 1sts in the INFC and then in 2004 James Greer won the race from Messac. The club hold many racing records in the local Mid Antrim Combine, and I have invited them to return as a club and compete in their famous Champions League for 2022 along with all local area lofts. Top prize-winner was Alan Darragh followed by Gary Gibson who had a best racing season. Winning 10 x 1st clubs, 10 x 2nd club, 9 x 3rd club. On top of that 3 x 1st Mid Antrim Combine, 3 x 1st Seven Towers and 1st Section B in the Talbenny Young Bird National. My thanks to Mervyn Eagleson for his help with results and introduction, highly valuable work appreciated by me and no doubt by all the clubs he covers.

Season highlights

Cullybackey HPS members again had an excellent season’s racing with the highlight being Alan Darragh’s 1st & 2nd Open Sennen Cove Yearling National in the Irish National Flying Club. This was Alan’s third time winning this event and he also extended his National record to 7 x 1st Open wins in total. Racing with the NIPA and Alan topped Section B from both Talbenny races finishing 9th Open in 1st Talbenny 14650 birds and 3rd Open in 2nd Talbenny 8813 birds. Tom McAlonan another fancier with a top channel record had the best bird in the Mid Antrim Combine from the NIPA St Malo OB National winning 2nd Section B and 7th Open NIPA. Alan Darragh was next best in the local area and placed 3rd Section and 9th Open NIPA. Gary Gibson had a super young bird season topping the MA Combine from Fermoy and the Fermoy 5 Bird event and had an excellent result from the Talbenny YB National were he scored 1st Combine, 1st Section & 25th Open NIPA 1884 birds.

'Swallow Brae Seven', the INFC Yearling Nat winner for Alan Darragh.
'Swallow Brae Seven', the INFC Yearling Nat winner for Alan Darragh.
'Swallow Brae Seven', the INFC Yearling Nat winner for Alan Darragh.

Old Bird winners: 24/04 Tullamore - C & R McIntyre 1st & 2nd vel 1410, 1/05 Roscrea - Alan Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1492, 14/05 Fermoy - Alan Darragh 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1511, 22/05 Castletown - Alan Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1372, 29/05 Skibbereen OB Inland National - Alan Darragh vel 1472.

06/06 1st Talbenny - Alan Darragh vel 1349 1st Section B & 9th Open NIPA 723/14650, 12/06 2nd Talbenny - Alan Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1389 1st Section B & 3rd Open NIPA 605/8813.

16/06 Sennen Cove INFC Yearling National - Alan Darragh 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1248 & 1246 (1st, 2nd, 34th & 205th Open INFC National).

Alan Darragh wins Yearling Nat

Alan Darragh 31 years highest prize winner and collecting Russell Family Cup one of 21 in club.
Alan Darragh 31 years highest prize winner and collecting Russell Family Cup one of 21 in club.
Alan Darragh 31 years highest prize winner and collecting Russell Family Cup one of 21 in club.

The Yearling Nat for the INFC was flown as arranged on Wednesday 16th June with entries race marked in Lisburn on the Monday. Members were invited to attend at various times over the day to ensure no large numbers gathered at any one time to keep within the Covid 19 regulations. Great work carried out by many teams of helpers, and the Secretary Trevor Topping available all day to sort out any problems. The entry was slightly down on the previous race in 2019 which I suppose was expected, 511 members sent 3411 birds competing for £26,813 in pools and prizes. Due to weather problems liberation was delayed until 11.30am into a Lt South westerly wind and the race was once again kindly sponsored by Versele Laga & H Beattie & Son. The late liberation was a difficult call and at the end of the first day just 70 birds made home lofts and under 300 in race time, although, a good number of others have turned in. This race has always been one of the most successful since added to the programme and I well remember the late L O Barr and myself putting the idea forward first flown to celebrate H M the Queen Jubilee Year.

The Mid Antrim area had the best birds, and what a result it was for Alan Darragh of Cullybackey having two birds together for 1st & 2nd Open and now the winner of this Yearling Nat Classic for the 3rd time which is a record added to another record that of now 7 x 1st in the INFC which includes the Blue Riband of Irish racing the Kings Cup.

1st, 2nd, 29th & 157th North Section, 1st, 2nd, 34th & 205th Open, Alan Darragh Cullybackey, Vel 1248, flying 332 miles, winning £1,050 and the Nelson Corry Trophy plus Sam Buckley Memorial Cup for 2B Ave. If a fancier wins one National in his life-time, he has achieved more than he could have wished for, if they were to win two then fanciers would say this man’s some racer but when a fancier wins 7 (Seven) Nationals there’s no words to describe this amazing achievement.

Alan Darragh of Cullybackey won his 7th National on 16th June 2021 at 19.18pm when he timed the winner of this year’s Sennen Cove Yearling National. For the record Alan’s seven Nationals wins have been the Jersey Kings Cup 1986, Sennen Cove Yearling National 1989, 2010 & 2021, Friendship National Fougeres 2003 & Portland 2006 and the Old Hens National from Wadebridge in 2005. He has also been 2nd National on seven occasions, four of these beaten by loft-mates. Racing with the NIPA he has won 1st Open Skibbereen Inland National in 1988 and 1st Open Penzance & Penzance Classic and has been twice 2nd Open in the NIPA French old bird Derby. One may ask is there a better CV in Europe? I Don’t think so. Back to the race and Alan had two birds arrive together, first to trap was a blue cock racing on widowhood followed 37 seconds later by a blue chequer hen sitting on eggs, a third bird arrived later that evening at 20.37pm to win 34th Open. The first three birds are all related in some way and contain a lot of the old bloodlines including “Champion 05” the NIPA Skibbereen Inland Derby winner of 1988 and his 2nd Open Wadebridge YB National pigeon. Another unbelievable day’s racing from this top fancier and one thing’s for sure, this won’t be the last time he’s featured in a Top 10 National report. 7 x 1st INFC is as good as it gets, it could be a long time before that is equalled and the record in the meantime will stand with one of the best racers in the Island of Ireland – Alan Darragh.

The cups won by McAlonan Bros after another successful season.
The cups won by McAlonan Bros after another successful season.
The cups won by McAlonan Bros after another successful season.

12/07 Fermoy 5 Bird- Gary Gibson vel 1484, 19/06 Skibbereen NIPA Yearling National - Alan Darragh vel 1083, 19/06 Bude - C & R McIntyre 1st & 2nd vel 1466, 26/06 Fermoy (4) -Alan Darragh 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1104, 01/07 Penzance - Alan Darragh vel 1206.

01 /07 St Malo NIPA OB National - Tom McAlonan 725(1st MAC 38/146) Tom McAlonan Tops Combine from Tough St Malo OB National

Hard St Malo National -

The final NIPA old bird race of the season was the St Malo old bird National from France. Birds were liberated on Thursday 1st July at 11.30am in light variable winds. As expected, no birds were recorded on the first day due to the late liberation. The first fancier to record a second day arrival in the Mid Antrim Combine was 76 years old, Tom McAlonan of McAlonan Bros who timed at 12.22pm on Friday afternoon. This game 2-year-old dark chequer hen sitting 12 - 14 days old eggs had a hard 481 miles fly to the lofts. This year it had most inland races and had 1st Talbenny before being sent to the National. The hen is bred down from birds Tom got from Campbell & Francey and is from a father and daughter pairing. Tom only concentrates on the channel racing and has an excellent record in this OB National event. This latest 1st Combine, 2nd Section B and 7th Open NIPA can be added to his recent list of positions including 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th and 10th Section B plus 9th, 13th, 17th, 24th, 29th, 33rd, 42, 44th, 45th and 70th Open NIPA and has also won 1st Section B & 17th Open NIPA Penzance OB Classic. Alan Darragh timed the only other bird in the club winning 3rd Section B and 9th Open vel 719.

Tom McAlonan recorded a super result in the hard NIPA St Malo National, 1st MAC and the McIlhagga Memorial Cup.
Tom McAlonan recorded a super result in the hard NIPA St Malo National, 1st MAC and the McIlhagga Memorial Cup.
Tom McAlonan recorded a super result in the hard NIPA St Malo National, 1st MAC and the McIlhagga Memorial Cup.

Young Bird winners: 17/07 Area Lib (1) Tullamore - Alan Darragh vel 1230, 31/07 Area Lib (3) Tullamore - Gary Gibson 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1154, 10/08 Roscrea - Alan Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1413, 16/08 Gowran Park - Gary Gibson 1st & 2nd vel 1217(11th MAC 30/626), 23/08 Gowran Park (2) - J & J Greer vel 1413 Jimmy & Jamie are best from 2nd Gowran Park - The young bird racing season continued with the sixth race again from Gowran Park in County Kilkenny. As like the previous two weeks the race was flown on a weekday due to bad weather at the weekend. Birds were liberated on Monday 23rd August at 10.45am in a light easterly wind. Best bird in the local area was timed by former Kings Cup winner Jimmy Greer and his grandson Jamie Greer. The Cullybackey Flying Club partnership clocked at 14.02pm for the 158 miles fly to their Tullynahinnion Lofts just outside Portglenone to record velocity 1413ypm. Their winning blue chequer cock also wins 4th Section B and 150th Open NIPA. The cock was 3rd club and 24th Section B last week and is coming into form at the right time for the classic events. Sire was a gift from Keith Kernohan of Harryville and is from the best of his Vermeerbergen - Wilms stock. Dam is Staf Van Reet x Braspenning with the G. G. Sire of the winner coming from clubmate Gary Gibson.

28/08 Fermoy & Fermoy 5 Bird - Gary Gibson vel 1418 (1st, 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 21st & 25th MAC 37/447) Gary Gibson best from Fermoy & 5 Bird Classic. For the first time in a month the weather was ideal for a weekend race. The birds were released in Fermoy in County Cork on Saturday 28th August at 10.45am in an easterly wind. Gary Gibson of Cullybackey timed his blue hen at 14.53pm to win 1st Mid Antrim Combine in both the Fermoy race and the 5 Bird Classic event. The winning blue hen is the best of Willy van Hercks. Sire is a son of Rea & Magill’s No1 hen and is sire of 5th Open Penzance Classic and 10th Open Penzance. The dam is a daughter to Rea & Magill’s 1st Open NIPA Talbenny YB National winner “Pole Dancer” Gary’s winner was his first bird last week winning 5th Combine and 9th Section B 2nd Gowran Park. In total Gary had eight birds in the top twenty of the Combine. 04/09 Tullamore - Gary Gibson 1st & 2nd vel 1408 (7th & 8th MAC 25/454).

Talbenny won by Gary Gibson

04/09 Talbenny YB National - Gary Gibson 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1491 (1st, 9th, 11th, 17th & 18th MAC 27/128) Combine and Section Success for Gary Gibson of Cullybackey. The NIPA cross channel Talbenny young bird National was held on Saturday 4th September. Birds were released in a light south easterly wind at 12 noon. Gary Gibson who has his youngsters in top form at present timed the best bird at 16.22pm to win 1st Mid Antrim Combine, 1st Section B and a good 25th Open NIPA National. Gary’s winning blue chequer hen was flying 222 miles to the lofts to record 1491ypm. The hen was sitting on a 2-day old baldy chick and is a direct Stickers - Donckers from Derek Parr’s best breeding pair. That’s Gary’s third Combine win of the season having won 2 x 1st Combine’s last weekend from Fermoy and Fermoy 5 Bird. Gary would like to thank Derek Parr for breeding him the Talbenny Combine and Section winner. 11/09 Skibbereen YB National - Gary Gibson vel 1149 (8th MAC 22/145).

INFC Results: Skibbereen OB Nat - A Darragh 1145, Gary Gibson 1141. A Darragh 1113, 1009. Yearling Nat Sennen Cove - A Darragh 1248, 1246, 1068, N & S Anderson 579, D & H Kirkpatrick 530, A Darragh 485, G Gibson 445. Lamballe Friendship Nat - C & R McIntyre 745. Skibbereen YB Nat - C & R McIntyre 1202.

Cullybackey 2020 season results compiled by MERVYN EAGLESON.

'Stracam Lass' Blue (h) GB19C-01943 winner 1st Club Cullybackey & 15th Open INFC Lamballe Friendship Nat 227/1217 - 489 Miles, Vel 745. 1st Club Cullybackey & 64th Open NIPA Bude 495/5798 - 308 Miles, Vel 1466. Raced by C & R McIntyre.
'Stracam Lass' Blue (h) GB19C-01943 winner 1st Club Cullybackey & 15th Open INFC Lamballe Friendship Nat 227/1217 - 489 Miles, Vel 745. 1st Club Cullybackey & 64th Open NIPA Bude 495/5798 - 308 Miles, Vel 1466. Raced by C & R McIntyre.
'Stracam Lass' Blue (h) GB19C-01943 winner 1st Club Cullybackey & 15th Open INFC Lamballe Friendship Nat 227/1217 - 489 Miles, Vel 745. 1st Club Cullybackey & 64th Open NIPA Bude 495/5798 - 308 Miles, Vel 1466. Raced by C & R McIntyre.

Old Birds: 07/06/20 Tullamore G Gibson 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th vel 1387, 13/06/20 Gowran Park G Gibson 1st & 2nd vel 1256 7th & 8th Mid Antrim Combine, 20/06/20 Corrin (1) G Gibson vel 1882 11th MA Combine, 02/07/20 Corrin (2) A Darragh vel 1364, 06/07/20 Skibbereen Inland National G Gibson 1st & 2nd vel 1331 5th & 9th MA Combine, 11/07/20 Talbenny A Darragh 1st & 2nd & 3rd vel 1316, 15/07/20 Skibbereen Yearling National A Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1246, 19/07/20 Bude G Gibson 1st, 2nd & 3rd vel 1008 17th & 18th MA Combine, 25/07/20 Fermoy Comeback McAlonan Bros vel 1498 7th MA Combine, 30/07/20 St Malo OB French National A Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1518

Young Birds: 08/08/20 Mullingar Area Lib (1) J McNaghton & Son vel 1288. Today’s race winner is Iain McNaghten, timing his cheq hen at 10.50am, This hen is a sister to Iain’s blue pied hen that flew so well for him last year as a young bird, 15/08/20 Mullingar Area Lib (2) G Gibson Vel 1273 10th MA Combine 52/1521 Today’s race winner in Cullybackey from Mullingar where 9 members sent 311 birds was Gary Gibson. He timed his Cheq Pied hen at 3.54.57 to record a velocity of 1273, 23/08/20 Roscrea J McNaghten & Son vel 1520 This week’s winner from a difficult race from Roscrea with heavy rain is Iain McNaghten. This is Iain’s second race win of the season following his win in the first young bird race from Mullingar. This pigeon was bred off the Blue Pied hen that Iain won with last year during the young bird season when paired to a cock from Gary Gibson, 29/08/20 Gowran Park A Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1169 Today’s race winner in Cullybackey HPS from a tough Gowran Park is Alan Darragh, 06/09/20 Fermoy (1) J & J Greer vel 1208 Today’s Cullybackey HPS winners are the partnership of J & J Greer clocking their blue cock at 3.51pm to record a velocity of 1208 to win 1st Club. The sire of this pigeon was kindly gifted from Kenneth Kernohan off the best of the Vermerbergen lines, a big thank you to Keith, 12/09/20 Talbenny YB National A Darragh vel 1281, 12/09/20 Tullamore Comeback A Darragh vel 1923, 19/09/20 Fermoy (2) A Darragh 1st & 2nd vel 1114 Todays Fermoy winner is Alan Darragh. Timing his blue cock at 2.46pm to win 1st club with a velocity of 1114 and taking second on 1113, 19/09/20 Fermoy 5 Bird J & J Greer vel 1102 Todays 5 Bird Fermoy winner is the partnership of J & J Greer. Timing their dark cheq cock at 2.49.39 with a velocity of 1102. This dark cock was 6th club last week from Talbenny and is a direct son of “Penny” their Meritorious Award winner.

Alan Darragh 8 x 1st, Gary Gibson 6 x 1st, J McNaghten & Son 2 x 1st, J & J Greer 2 x 1st, McAlonan Bros 1 x 1st -Little bit of a catch up, we missed using these results for the previous season. The record is now set in print.

Latest News - I understand the Cullybackey HPS have returned to the MAC after conducting a democratic vote, that’s good news, and where a majority exists the democratic decision can only be one way, back and fully support the majority. The NIPA young bird programme will be the one submitted by Ligoniel & District, no Area Liberations and hopefully it works out. Early preparation will be necessary to have the birds well trained in time for the opening race. Start date is Saturday 16th July with a race from Mullingar, or alternative point if Mullingar not available. The local training by Homer will continue this year again, usual collection points and more details later.

Race Programme YB (C) - Young Bird proposed by Ligoniel HPS. 16/07 Mullingar, 23/07 Mullingar, 30/07 Tullamore, 06/08 Roscrea, 13/08 Gowran Park, 20/08 Fermoy & Fermoy 5 Bird, 27/08 Talbenny YB Nat, same day 27/08 Roscrea, 03/09 Fermoy, 10/09 Skibbereen YB Nat.

Paddy Murray is the new NUPA President

Retiring NIPA president Davy Mawhinney is seen here presenting the Presidents Chain to the incoming president Mr Paddy Murray from Killyleagh representing Section F.

Davy congratulated Paddy on his appointment and wished his well for the future.

Davy has now completed his 2-year term, which he said was an honour and a privilege for him, something he never expected, and it must be said it was the most difficult two years from the conception of the NIPA 76 years ago with many changes and meetings within his tenure.

The NIPA vice chairman Mr Pat Mcloughlin thanked Davy on behalf of the NIPA for all his help and advice during his two years and wished him every success for the future. Davy thanked Pat for his kind words and wished the organisation every success for the future.

All NIPA prizemoney cheques must be redeemed immediately, they will become valueless in approximately two weeks’ time you will be unable to cash them. Danske Bank is introducing new security items on this type of cheque. This will be the final warning given to the membership and possibly if they try and lodge these cheques they may incur Bank Charges, pass the word around.

After 31 years Eugene Fitzgerald has stepped down as the Irish Homing Union President, a dedicated worker for the sport and represented Ireland for many years at the Confederation with all unions in attendance. Enjoy your retirement Eugene and congratulations to the new IHU President Billy Hobbs.

Retiring NIPA president Davy Mawhinney is seen here presenting the Presidents Chain to the incoming president Mr Paddy Murray from Killyleagh representing Section F.
Retiring NIPA president Davy Mawhinney is seen here presenting the Presidents Chain to the incoming president Mr Paddy Murray from Killyleagh representing Section F.
Retiring NIPA president Davy Mawhinney is seen here presenting the Presidents Chain to the incoming president Mr Paddy Murray from Killyleagh representing Section F.
Gary Gibson holding his winner from Talbenny bred by Derek Parr.
Gary Gibson holding his winner from Talbenny bred by Derek Parr.
Gary Gibson holding his winner from Talbenny bred by Derek Parr.
Chris & Robin McIntyre won the opening race from Tullamore, and in the Irish Nat FC won from Lamballe in France and Skibbereen in the young birds.
Chris & Robin McIntyre won the opening race from Tullamore, and in the Irish Nat FC won from Lamballe in France and Skibbereen in the young birds.
Chris & Robin McIntyre won the opening race from Tullamore, and in the Irish Nat FC won from Lamballe in France and Skibbereen in the young birds.
Best ever season for Garry Gibson, cup's and trophies won in 2021 winning 10 x 1st clubs.
Best ever season for Garry Gibson, cup's and trophies won in 2021 winning 10 x 1st clubs.
Best ever season for Garry Gibson, cup's and trophies won in 2021 winning 10 x 1st clubs.