Portadown & Drumcree Annual presentation awards night

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Allan McDonald once again came to the form when the going got tough.

A 4th open from France the previous year was followed up with an equally impressive 6th open this year from the Kings Cup when only 72 birds were recorded in race time.

Allan also claimed the red card in the young birds from Talbenny finishing 52nd open. He once again was the last man standing in the OB knock-out competition winning the McCallum cup. Allan won the Kings Cup in 1988 from Rennes.

Larkin Bros - Paul, Alan and Jim had yet another impressive year winning Skibbereen, Penzance and Penzance Classic in the old birds and Tullamore and Dunmanway in the young birds. They had a very impressive card in the Penzance Classic finishing 2nd, 7th and 19th section. Another great result they achieved was in the YB Dunmanway finishing 2nd Section.

Hagan & Rowney - Martin and Philip had yet another very impressive year winning 11 club firsts to include Rosscarbery yearling hen and cocks national and the Yearling National itself and in the YB both Rosscarbery and Skibbereen nationals. They also won the inland average, highest points in all nationals and W McDonald Memorial 2 bird cup. The most impressive strike was perhaps from Gowran in the OB when narrowly missing out on winning the open from 24,000 birds had seven pigeons in the top 100, finishing 2nd, 6th, 19th, 33rd, 56th, 86th and 97th open.

Bobby Creaney - What a year for Bobby! Only second man ever from the club to win the OB Derby from France. Bobby had an outstanding bird winning the open and claimed NIPA section E Cross Channel fancier of the Year. Bobby received eight NIPA trophies and at club level takes away a further six trophies.

J Whitten & Son - Jason and Jay had a great first year in the club with winning highest prizewinners and Fanciers of the Year. They claimed nine club 1sts with winning the open from Talbenny and the following week also had five birds in the first 70 finishing 6th, 13th, 15th, 35th and 68th open. Jason and Jay also had the best old and young bird single bird performance.

Many thanks to Ronnie Higginson for presenting the trophies and joining us on our annual dinner. Reuben Hutchinson received a gift from the club members as he reached his 91st birthday this year and still enjoying the sport. Just to finish, all the club members would like to thank our secretary Martin Hagan for all his dedication and hard work through the racing season. The end of the year was tinged with complete shock and sadness on the sudden passing of Martin Hagan.


Over 1000 people have attended the funeral of St John The Baptist Primary School teacher, Mr Martin Hagan.

There was standing room only in St John’s Church which was packed with relatives, friends, colleagues, parents, pupils and former pupils for the Requiem Mass celebrated by Parish Priest, Rev Canon Michael Toner. Mr Hagan (52) who died suddenly was a very popular P7 teacher who also took a keen interest in youth football and racing pigeons. He has repeatedly been described as a ‘true gentleman’ and a ‘wonderful teacher’. This was borne out by the large attendance at the funeral.

Big Vote at AGM for Irish National

For the first time in many years the Agenda for the AGM of the Irish National Flying Club includes proposals to change some race points including the venue for the Blue Riband Kings Cup. When changes like this are included for debate and voting it usually means a full attendance. D & H Kirkpatrick from Cullybackey has proposed change.

The INFC Annual Meeting will take place on Saturday 2nd March 2019 at 2.00pm in the Lagan Valley Leisure-plex, Governor’s Road, Lisburn BT28 1LP. The Agenda for the meeting will include proposed changes to race points, with a loss on revenue in the last season the joining fees have increased by £5.00, the birdage for the Friendship Nat will increase by £1 per bird and this will enhance the prizes for this race. Please note the new annual subscriptions are as follows: Existing Member is £20.00 payable through your club, and new member £25.00 payable through your club. Individual member paying direct to INFC £30.00, and new Individual member paying direct to INFC £35.00.

7.1 Notice of Motion. Submitted by D & H Kirkpatrick the Yearling Nat is flown from Cheltenham. Submitted by P A Larkin & Sons the Yearling Nat is flown from Newtown Abbott. Submitted by INFC Management Committee the Yearling Nat is flown from Sennen Cove.

7.2 Notice of Motion. Submitted by D & H Kirkpatrick the Kings Cup race is flown from Le Mans. Submitted by P A Larkin & Sons the Kings Cup race is flown from Alecon. Submitted by INFC Management Committee the Kings Cup race is flown from St Allouestre.

7.3 Notice of Motion. Submitted by P A Larkin & Sons the Friendship Nat is flown from Vire. Submitted by INFC Management Committee the Friendship Nat is flown from Plougastel-Daoulas or Lamballe, the race advisors to decide based on weather reports for release day.

7.4 Notice of Motion. Submitted by D & H Kirkpatrick the Young Bird Channel Nat is flown from Cheltenham. Submitted by P A Larkin & Sons the Young Bird Channel Nat is flown from Okehampton. Submitted by INFC Management Committee the Young Bird Channel Nat is flown from Penzance.

Race dates – Old Bird Inland Skibbereen Tuesday 28th May 2019 (Marking Monday), Yearling Nat Wednesday 12th June 2019 (Marking Monday), Kings Cup Friday 5th July 2019 (Marking Tuesday), Friendship Nat Friday 12th July 2019 (Marking Tuesday), Young Bird Inland Skibbereen Tuesday 27th August 2019 (Marking Monday), YB Channel Nat Wednesday 4th September 2019 (Marking Monday).

Please note deadline - Entry Forms for the Single Bird Challenge are included with the Agenda. Entry is again £5 and deadline date for return is 17th March 2019. This and New Member application forms for 2019 are available to download on the website www.infc.co.uk

We will have a quick look back on the winners of the INFC races flown in 2018. Before the season starts I will look back at the Hall of Fame Diploma awarded for birds three times in the Kings Cup prizes and the Gold Medal awarded for birds four times in the Kings Cup prizes.

Blue Riband Kings Cup Grand National - 1st North Section, 1st Open O Fitzpatrick & Son Gilford, Vel 837, Flying 473 miles, Winning £2133, and King George V Challenge Cup and NIPA Trophy for 1st NIPA member in the King’s Cup.

The Blue Riband Kings Cup in the Grand National race from St Allouestre has been won in the village of Gilford by O Fitzpatrick & Son, Michael started racing with his late father Owen but decided to retain the name after his father passed away. Michael told me that he definitely got the racing pigeon bug from his father and told me his dad in 20 years flying had topped the NIPA Open twice, a bit of an achievement on its own. As recently as last season O Fitzpatrick & Son had 2nd Open INFC in the Yearling Nat from Sennen Cove putting five birds in the prizes, and had five birds in the prizes in the previous seasons YB Nat from Penzance. It’s the 4th time the famous trophy has been won into Gilford, previous winners were Thompson Bros in 1954, Doran Bros in 1966, Dan Campbell in 2011 which I covered at the time and now added to the list O Fitzpatrick & Son in 2018. Another neighbour was Jackie Crossan who after meeting his wife and moving to Downpatrick won the Kings Cup from Lerwick in 1985. The Kings Cup winner, one of three birds sent to France, was a 2 year old Blue hen sent on chipping eggs and now named “Champion Wee Lilly” after his late mother. She was timed at 7.12am on the second morning flying 473 miles to record velocity 837ypm. She had most on the inland programme and both Talbenny (1) and (2) before the Kings Cup. Her sire contains the very best of the old Frans van Wildemeersch bloodlines originating at Oakfield Lofts in Portadown, where Bertie Fletcher had the very best of this family of birds winning from all points. Dam contains the best of the Vandenabeele bloodlines obtained from good friend Dessie Breen from his Syndicate Lofts stock. Usually Michael races roundabout and the birds are trained from Balbriggan with Ronnie Williamson.

Friendship National from Lamballe – 1st Open N Black & Son Dromara, Vel 1046 Flying 437 miles, winning £379 and the Friendship Cup

N Black & Son, Dromara are previous Kings Cup winners and double National Champions. The loft has also won three Hall of Fames, a Gold Medal and last year won the French Diploma. The loft has had a dream finish to the old bird season being 3rd Open NIPA St Malo, also 23rd and 31st Open Kings Cup. In the last six French races the loft has been 6th, 7th, 3rd, 23rd and 1st. With father Norman passing away two years ago the name N. Black & Son will never be changed, the partnership consists of brothers Alan, Ian and David. The two year old Blue Cheq hen now named ”Margaret”, after the brother’s late mother who played such a big part with the birds, was timed at 6.46 flying twelve hours and sixteen minutes. The loft timed four other birds to be 36th, 41st, 46th and 57th Open from an entry of 16 birds. “Margaret” was sent to the race on a one day young bird after sitting six days overdue, she was given three different chipping eggs to make sure she didn’t leave the eggs. A natural young bird she was not raced but was well trained on John Abernethy’s transporter up to sixty miles. As a yearling she had two inland races and the Yearling National. This year she had Corrin 182mls, Tallbenny 187mls and the comeback Fermoy 176mls.

Normally they would train the bird three or four times a week but this year because they were exercising so well around the loft they only had a couple of training spins, the hens would fly two hours plus every afternoon even in the very hot temperatures. The loft has been cultivating the same family of pigeons for nearly forty years the base pigeons coming from Russell Bros, Jim Moreland, John McMullan and George Casement. “Margaret” is from the good pair and is the fifth generation from the base pair of the loft, the sire of the pair is a brother to “Annie Mary” 4th and 8th King’s Cup while the hen of the pair is a daughter of David’s father-in-law H. Silcock’s “Pinehill Lass” 29th and 35th King’s Cup. Along with 10th Kings Cup the pair has bred a lot of National prize winners plus a lot of good breeders. It was also a great one two for the family of birds as 2nd North section is David’s father in law Harry Silcock.

Mid Antrim loft wins Yearling National - 1st North Section, 1st Open Martin Graham Ballymena & District, Vel 1419, flying 332 miles, winning £725 and the Nelson Corry Trophy

Every fanciers dream is to win a National and at 1.37pm on Wednesday, 13th June this dream was fulfilled for Martin Graham of Ballymena & District, a club steeped in long distance tradition. His blue cock “Denman” romped home to win this season’s Yearling National event in some style. Over the last years forty two year old Martin has only concentrated on the Derby and National races and has amassed many fantastic results. They include 1st section, 1st Open NIPA Skibbereen OB Inland National with “Sunnyhill Lass”, 1st Section & 2nd Open NIPA Lamballe OB National with “Champion Siobhan”, 2nd Section & 4th Open NIPA St Malo OB National and only last season with “Brenda Anne” had the only bird in the Mid Antrim Section B and 7th open NIPA St Malo OB National. The list goes on and on.

Now to the winning Blue cock, and a bit of a story here. Martin’s father-in-law Denis Craig gave up the pigeons at the end of last season and Denis gave him a few birds to break in. During the beginning of this year Martin broke the birds in and “Denman” was one of these. From the Rosscarberry OB National “Denman” won 1st Club, 23rd Section & 88th Open NIPA and then was placed 2nd Club in the Skibbereen INFC National. On to the motivation and he was feeding his first ever youngster and in Martin’s own words “I had noticed the previous Monday before the National he had got very keen as the eggs were chipping. Between Wednesday and Friday of that week when I came home from work I lifted his hen every evening making him sit until after 9 o’clock at night. On the Saturday and Sunday evening I noticed him pushing the hen off the youngster and he continued to sit on it until 9.00pm every night”. He had a full wing and hadn’t dropped a flight and also dominated the section he was in not allowing another bird near.

Breeding is Hartog, Soontjen and Busschaert and was bred by M.D.C. Magill of the Harryville HPS in the town. In closing Martin would like to thank all the fanciers who called at the door, rang or texted him to congratulate him. He would also like to thank his father in law especially for gifting him this wonderful yearling cock which has turned out to be a racing machine, hence why Martin named the cock after him. Mervyn Eagleson PO.

Penzance YB Grand National - 1st North Section, 1st Open Telford Bros & S & J Milligan Downpatrick Premier, Vel 1249 flying 290 miles, winning £613 plus J M K McGugan Perpetual Cup for the winner.

The first pigeon timed at 2.45pm to win 1st Open & 1st North Section from 1326 birds belonging to the partnership of Telford Bros & S & J Milligan from the Downpatrick Premier Club. This was a newly formed club in the area, and the partnership was a new one as well although S Milligan & Daughter also retain that membership. It was sent to the race sitting fourteen days on eggs along with his hen who was 42nd Open & 24th North Section, the third pigeon time 198th Open & 122nd North Section. It was very good return for the loft, in the circumstances, from their small entry of six birds. The winning pigeon is a Busscharet, how well that strain of birds have done over many years, now named ‘The New Mr Busscharet’ was bred by Dicky Quinn of Shrigley, a small village in County Down from his own inbred family of Busscharets. Very close to Killyleagh, this was the town-land made famous by the late Billy Parkes who had a top quality loft of the famous Busschaert’s. Congratulations Alan, Colin, Sean and Jennifer on your top winning performance.

Skibbereen Old Bird Nat - 1st South Sect & 1st Open INFC P J Nangle, Carlow & District – Vel 1308 flying 133 miles winning £220 and the Ronnie Johnston Challenge Cup

This yearling Blue hen is a Louis Cooreman and is bred from pigeons that PJ Nangle purchased at one of Bob Fenech’s sales in Dublin. She is named after PJ’s daughter. She was a very good racing hen having previously won 1st Club, 1st Fed, 1st Sect C and 12th Open IHU Nat FC Barleycove Young Bird National. PJ is a huge supporter of the INFC and has been, since he started in pigeons many years ago, often travelling to the marking station in Lisburn on his own with just a couple of birds.

Nowadays he brings all of the pigeons from our area to Lisburn and is the most reliable person one could ask for, organising the pick-up of the birds, making sure the lads have their race sheets filled in properly and even getting the correct sterling draft to cover the cost of all the bird’s entered, which must be a huge convenience for the marking station official’s, then returning clocks, envelopes, and baskets to each member. Well said Francis Martin Corcoran.

We would just like to express the grateful thanks of the INFC members in the Carlow area for the work PJ puts into the INFC on our behalf to ensure that we all can participate in National racing with the INFC, and finally, to congratulate him on his win yesterday.

Skibbereen Young Bird Nat - 1st Open, 1st North Section, N Edgar & Son, Dromara, Vel 1578, Flying 235 miles, winning £416 and the Tom Marshall Trophy

Winning 1st North Section & 1st Open is N. Edgar & Son of Dromara in County Down close to the famous Golden Mile at Dromore. The loft has had the most fantastic young bird season winning 3 x 1st Sections with the N.I.P.A. plus of course Rosscarbery the previous day. Indeed the whole Dromara club have had a tremendous season having a host of top open positions from all the members. With father Norman sadly passing away only last year son Derek is the main man. The pigeon timed was a small to medium dark check hen called “Wee Chrissy”, named after Derek’s mother. Sent feeding a seven day young bird, her sire is Ceusters Geoff Greenaway while her dam is Ceusters Vink and Soojten, she was actually 1st Open Roscrea young bird last year. A darkness young bird she had flown most of the young bird programme including Dunmanway the week before, having never being out of the first ten home to the loft. The young birds had maybe only one twenty mile training toss per week. It turned out a fantastic two days for this loft, 2 x 1st Nat in two days will be hard to equal.

Mid Antrim Combine AGM will be in the Ballymena Clubrooms on Wednesday 13th March at 8.00pm. Only club delegates can vote on business of the meeting. It is hoped to have as many as possible to join for the new season of racing, now into its 41st year and started as a bit of fun publishing a result for Mid Antrim lofts only. At present three positions are listed per member club, if all local clubs joined that would be 27 positions published weekly for competition. If a club decides to remain out the MAC are prepared to accept Associate Members at £5 and for that they will be eligible for positions each race and take part in the OB & YB Knock-out. Only Clubs joining at £3.00 can compete in the famous Champions League, for this each member club submits four lofts for the competition. This season the Ballymena & District competing lofts will be multi Nat & Derby winners J Eagleson & Sons, Bertie Blair and W & J Smyth both top prize-winners in recent seasons and joined by new Chairman of the club Robert Service and son Robin who had a best ever season in 2018 and heading for the top.

Champions League winner’s - 2008 Harryville (R H Clements), 2009 Rasharkin & Dist (D Dixon), 2010 Ballymena & Dist (M Graham), 2011 Randalstown ( S Millar), 2012 Cullybackey (Reid Bros & McCloy), 2013 Cullybackey (A Darragh), 2014 Rasharkin & Dist (Steele & McNeill), 2015 Rasharkin & Dist (D Dixon), 2016 Rasharkin & Dist (J & M Milliken). 2017 Rasharkin & Dist ( D Dixon), 2018 Rasharkin & Dist (J & M Milliken).

Costs have been kept down because Dixon Contractors continue to sponsor the engraving of cups and purchase of Diplomas. So far for 2019 sponsorship stands at £1,250 and more to come.

Every single member and club competing in 2019 will qualify for the awards, it should be a super season.

The NIPA committee voted last week that membership fees for the coming season would be £30.00 membership and would also be £30.00 for club membership, please let your secretary know. thanks. Barley Cove RPRA Code 6006, RPRA code for Castletown 6033. All clubs should re-apply for Barley Cove distances code 6006 as all distances now will be to loft locations that have been googled as previous distances would have been to the old loft coordinates.

New committee members included two members for Sect D, Ian Gibb Glenavy & District and Joey Vage Dromore HPS.