The Friendship National Lamballe is won by Tom McClean, Annaghmore

Although the two big races of the INFC old bird programme arranged for France were supposed to be flown on successive Fridays as the norm, the Kings Cup was delayed and it ended up with Kings Cup released on Thursday 8th July and the Friendship in Lamballe the next day.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th August 2021, 8:24 am
Arnold Thompson from Ballyclare & District had 6th and 9th Open and collected the H Beattie & Son trophy for best  two bird average.
Arnold Thompson from Ballyclare & District had 6th and 9th Open and collected the H Beattie & Son trophy for best two bird average.

What more could you look forward to than waiting for birds from two races on the one day. The numbers were up for the third year on the trot with 227 members sending 1,217 birds to compete for £6,281 in pools and prizemoney, with the Friendship National sponsored once again by H Beattie & Son. Liberation in Lamballe was at 9.15am and eleven gallant birds made home lofts on the day. Tom McClean, Annaghmore 18.57 vel. 1352, M Hughes Edgarstown 19.10 vel 1316, G Douglas Wilton Cross 19.39 vel 1251, D & R Turkington Doagh & Dist vel 1200, Larkin Bros Portadown & Drumcree vel 1181, A Thompson Ballyclare vel 1158 & vel 1034, C O’Hare and Son Ballyholland vel 1082, Mr & Mrs Close Drumnavaddy vel 1053, Gallagher Bros Annsborough vel 1011, P Rock & Son Dublin N.E. vel 994. Just 11 first day arrivals recorded. Tom McClean had 1st in the North Section and 1st Open INFC, Paddy Rock & Son from Dublin Northeast RPC won 1st in the South Section, they had 1st & 2nd in this race in 2019, the last year it was flown they are also former Kings Cup winners.

1st Open & 1st North Sect Tom McClean Annaghmore, Vel 1352 flying 447 miles, winning £736 and the Friendship Cup for the winner.

Man of the moment was Tom McClean of Annaghmore, both the INFC Old Bird Nat events took place on the same week and Tom had early arrivals in both races. The Kings Cup convoy in St Allouestre was liberated in France on Thursday 8th July and only had one bird recorded on the day to Liam McCall of Wicklow. Tom had one of the early arrivals into Portadown the next morning to finish 3rd Open overall to follow up his fantastic 2nd in 2018 behind winner O Fitzpatrick & Son from nearby Gilford. Even better was to come on Friday 9th July which is my own birthday date, the Friendship Nat was underway from Lamballe and Tom recorded an arrival at 18.57hrs which turned out to be the overall winner of 1st Open INFC. The 2-year-old blue ch hen was bred by his cousin Sam Craig of Edgarstown, super racer himself containing his own family of birds including FVW. sent 14 days on eggs he timed in as I said earlier at 18.57hrs on the day flying 447 miles to Portadown. Tommy won the highly prized Nation Champion award in that record season of 2018 and is now the early favourite to collect again in 2021, what a super last number of season’s it has been, for one of the top distance lofts in Mid Ulster.

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Tom McClean holding his INFC Friendship Nat winner photo taken just after arrival from Lamballe.

Just to set the record correct the bird that won 3rd Open in the Kings Cup for Tom was a gift from Eamonn Quigley of Inch Island in County Donegal, a loft with an outstanding distance pedigree. It was the very best of the old Kenyon bloodlines mainly, bred down from his famous Madam Butterfly all the top lines of Smyth Bros of Ballymena. The No 1 hen’s dam flew France on two occasions for T & P Cassidy. The 3rd National winner also has a bit of Willy Clarbaut through a late bred purchased from Wilf Reed, and a C & L Woodside hen which will be Smyth Bros old bloodlines. The 4-year-old Blue Ch hen was sent 14 days on eggs he timed in at 7.45am on the second morning flying 480 miles to Portadown. I messed that bit up earlier, old age must be catching up.

2nd Open & 2nd North Sect Mark Hughes Edgarstown, Vel 1316 flying 445 miles winning £408 and British Barcelona Club Trophy for 2nd Open.

The 2nd Open hen pigeon was sent to Lamballe national while sitting 12 days on eggs. The hen is a half-brother and a half sister mating to Miss Endurance. Miss Endurance won 8th Section, 15th Open St. Malo NIPA while flying 11 and half hours on the wing, she was also INFC Yearling national 13th North Section, 31st Open, she was also 7th North Section, 7th Open INFC Picauville while flying 14 hours 20 minutes on wing. A Peter Tipness and the Donnelly cock was paired to Miss Endurance which bred the parents of this 2nd Open pigeon. Another sister to Miss Endurance won the two-bird average from the INFC friendship National, 12th and 17th Open. The Donnelly cock has bred well over a 100 first prizes. This 2nd Open hen was given two Talbenny races before going to the Lamballe friendship National. Another half-sister to 2nd Open Lamballe 2021 hen was 3rd North Section, 5th Open Kings Cup St. Allouestre 2017, she won the first yearling into Ireland trophy. I would like to Thank R. Bell and sons for bringing the pigeons to the National marking and Stanley West and John Parr for training the pigeons. Yet another fantastic loft in Portadown. Simmo PO.

3rd Open & 3rd North Sect Geoffrey Douglas Wilton Cross, Vel 1251 flying 444 miles winning £288.

Paddy Rock and son Martin from Dublin were race winners in 2019 and win 1st South Section again finishing 11th Open INFC.

Taking third position in the tough race from Lamballe is the Lurgan loft of Geoffrey Douglas, who is no stranger to National success being a former Kings Cup and NIPA Yearling National winner, amongst a host of other top performances. The two-year-old Blue cock was sent to Lamballe driving a young darkness hen whom he had paired to in the young bird section, after having four races including the two NIPA Talbenny races. The cock was “sort of forgotten about, not being tossed just out with the young birds morning and evening” before selection for the Friendship National. As you can imagine the cock is impeccably well bred being of a son of Geoffrey’s “Good Pair” those being bred by Peter Fox of Syndicate Lofts from the direct Wal Zoontjens housed there. The dam was a Wal Zoontjen hen from Eric Higginbottom of Chesterfield. Geoffrey would like to thank everyone for their congratulatory calls and messages. Al Larkin PO.

4th Open & 4th North Sect D & R Turkington Doagh & District, Vel 1200 flying 460 miles winning £238.

It is a 3-year-old pure widowhood cock having his second channel race of his life he had flown the INFC yearling national. He had nearly all the inland races except the NIPA Skibbereen and the last Fermoy. He had about five tosses at the start of the year and then just flown round home for about an hour morning and night with the odd toss from Balbriggan with Ivan Mawhinney or Tommy Cairns. Its sire is the number one stock cock that has bred 1st Section, 3rd Open NIPA Talbenny Young Bird national and 34th INFC Yearling plus lots of other club prizes. The dam is a Harry McCloy hen that was bought INFC Charity Sale and is a direct daughter of his 7th INFC Friendship National 2015 and 9th INFC Yearling national 2015. She is 3 quarters Reid’s of the Rock famous bloodlines, and a quarter Geoff Kirkland Engels. Robert is a good worker for the sport and getting good results racing, and in the show pen.

5th Open & 5th North Sect Larkin Brothers Portadown & Drumcree, Vel 1181 flying 445 miles winning £632.

The winning bird for P Rock & Son of Dublin, 1st South Section Lamballe.

Here I am again with the pleasure of writing another report for my brothers, capping off a fantastic old bird season with a great performance in the final old bird race of the year. The 15’ hen that was 5th national is out of our Gold Ring pair sire a Hereman Ceuster from Formula One lofts, and the dam was bred by our good friend Billy Higgins of Annalong from his old Staf van Reet family. The 20’ hen that finished 19th National arrived with a puncture wound that required seven stitches who knows where she would have been if she hadn’t had been attacked! This hen is the epitome of Friendship both sire and dam being gift birds from friends, her sire was a gift from top fancier Robert Rea of Rea & Magill, a son of his Pole Dancer hen and the dam was a part of a swap kit of six with our good friends Jim Rafferty and Barry Toman, top fanciers in the Gilford club. Both hens raced on roundabout and fed on Beattie’s finest! Paul and Jim would like to take to thank everyone for the messages, texts and calls of congratulations, and to wish everyone all the very best for the young bird season. Al Larkin PO.

6th & 9th Open, and 6th & 9th North Sect Arnold Thompson Ballyclare & District, Vels 1158 and 1034 flying 459 miles winning £688. H Beattie & Son trophy two bird average Vel 1093.21.

Arnold Thompson is one of the big stars racing in East Antrim, usually there in the Muckamore Centre getting his T3 Clock checked, and often reset. The Friendship Nat produced another outstanding result collecting the Best 2 Bird Average in the race. First bird finishing 6th Open, Blue 2-year-old cock sent sitting 16 days. the bird had 4 Inland races and 2nd Talbenny from South Wales. The breeding is off Preece Brothers from Wales and Arnolds own long distance stock. The sire was 30th Open St Malo 2018 only 48 birds’ home in race time and is 1/2 brother to 4th Open Penzance Y. B. National in 2013. Dam is from Gerard Adair this again from Preece Bros Stock. Second arrival 9th Open, Blue 2-year-old hen sent to the race on a 4-day old youngster. Prior to the race she had 4 Inland races, and also, the 2nd Talbenny. She is off a G/Son of “Iron Lady”, the dam is Arnold’s own family which has been cultivated over the years. Another great performance from a top-class distance Fancier, six birds in the result and just 67 birds home. Higgy PO.

7th Open, & 7th North Sect C O’Hare & Son Ballyholland, Vel 1082 flying 426 miles winning £44

Mark Hughes from the Edgarstown HPS in Portadown finished 2nd Open in the Friendship National.

Cormac O’Hare has always been a very consistent loft in the Hot Bed of Newry City, he clocked up some super results in the NIPA old birds and finished the season off with a Top 10 finish in the Friendship National. A yearling hen from Joe Brown’s breeding has raced 2 Talbennys, Bude and Penzance prior to the Frenchship national. For a yearling it got plenty of racing and never gave up on the channel, finished a good 7th Open from Lamballe flying 426 miles into Ballyholland HPS in Newry, Co Down.

8th Open, & 8th North Sect Mr & Mrs N S Close Drumnavaddy, Vel 1053 flying 437 miles winning £113

Norman Close has just recently returned to the sport, after a number of year’s absence, now racing in partnership with his wife and flying in the Banbridge based Drumnavaddy. They scored a great result from Lamballe timing two birds to finish 8th and 32nd Open INFC, the birds are the best of Paul Swindell bloodlines and the first one a 2-year-old Blue Cheq cock is a grandson of their own winner a few years back of 5th Open St Malo. This one was flown Roundabout and was then mated for the later races sent sitting 10/12 days on his first nest of the year. He had most of the inland races and had Bude before going to Lamballe.

10th Open, & 10th North Sect Gallagher Bros Annsborough, Vel 1011 flying 427 miles winning £216.

The loft of Gallagher Bros is in the lovely Co. Down village of Annsborough. Kevin Gallagher says he thought that his luck had run out from France this year but the Friendship National changed that for at just after 9.30pm on the first day of the race he saw the 2-year-old black cock land to take 10th Open. This cock’s grandfather was 5th Open St Malo EDC crossed with a gift bird from R J Keown and John O’Hare. He had 4 races this year, including Talbenny, and was sitting 13 days on eggs. Gallagher Bros are no strangers to success in the Friendship National for this is about the 5th time they have finished in the Top 10 in this National and this includes winning it from Sartilly in 2000 when only 4 birds were recorded in race time. Kevin concluded by wishing everyone in the sport every future success. Clifford Browne PO.

11th Open, & 1st South Sect P Rock & Son Dublin Northeast RPS, Vel 995 flying 377 miles winning £141 and John Millar Transport Cup for Best in Sect not winning the Open.

C & R McIntyre with their Lamballe hen winner of 1st Club Cullybackey, and 15th Open INFC Friendship National. Best bird into Mid Antrim and furthest flying loft in result

Last time the race was flown 2019 this loft won 1st & 2nd South Section and 1st & 2nd Open Lamballe, another top result has followed in 2021, 1st & 2nd again in the South Section and in the INFC Open 11th & 18th. Martin Rock sent me the following. The pigeon we timed in 11th open to win the South section is a 2-year-old Cheq Pied hen. She was on 15-day old eggs the day of the race. She wasn’t raced a young bird but well trained. She only started racing this year as a 2-year-old, she flew most of the land programme and got over 7 hours from the first Sennen Cove on the 12th of June. She was then let go down on eggs for France. She got no more racing, just loft flying once a day for an hour and the week before the Friendship national she got 2 x 30 mile tosses. Her sire is a Vandenabeele from Colin Rudd. Her dam is an inbred daughter of our hall of fame winner “Little PJ”. We would like to congratulate Tommy McClean on his great performance winning the National.

C & R McIntyre are Best in Mid Antrim

Yet another good result for the former Kings Cup winners and another success in the Friendship Nat after winning 1st & 2nd Open INFC in 2019, the last season it was flown.

In the local area just the one bird was recorded and its big congratulations to Chris & Robin McIntyre from Dervock who timed a bird to finish 14th North Sect and 15th Open INFC flying 489 miles on velocity 745ypm making the loft the longest flyers in the result. The partners race with good success in the local Cullybackey HPS a very hard club to win be it from either short or long events where they have a great record with two Kings Cup winners. On this occasion the rest of the big Mid Antrim drew a blank, well done C & R McIntyre, only bird locally in race time. Their hen has been a multiple prize winner inland and also scored 1st Club, 14th Section & 63rd Open NIPA Bude prior to Lamballe.

The INFC Committee are grateful once again for all the help at the race marking, and all those involved in the various Clock Centres across Ireland over the days of the race, every little bit of help is appreciated. On a personal note. thanks to all those who supplied text and photos for this report and the Kings Cup, some at short notice, or helped in any other way. The more info we get the better job can be done, any little snips, details of the bird itself plus info on the sire and dam. Any awards won previous, how long in the birds etc. This report is the Top 10, results from Clubs, Feds, Combine’s etc. to follow probably later in the year.

From Fintan Moran: The Malahide Club is running a phone-in auction to raise funds for the youth club from where we use the premises as club rooms. A detailed listing of birds/donors will be loaded on the ECF website and Facebook page prior to the auction commencing.

Larkin Brothers from Portadown & Drumcree, Paul and Jim celebrate 5th Open in the Friendship National.
Gallagher Bros of Annsborough 10th Open Friendship National, Kevin Gallagher with the 2yo Black Cock. Best bird in the East Down Combine.
Best bird in East Antrim was timed by D & R Turkington of Doagh & District HPS, took 4th Open.
Cormac O’Hare from the Ballyholland club in Newry holding his winner of 7th Open Lamballe.
Former Kings Cup winner Geoffrey Douglas from the Wilton Cross in Lurgan took 3rd Open from Lamballe.
Mr & Mrs N S Close of Drumnavaddy, 8th North Sect & 8th Open INFC, and a second bird in the result.