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Skibbereen Young Bird National




Brendan McLoughlin


The curtain came down on the 2013 racing season when the Irish National Flying Club held their Young Bird Inland National from Skibbereen in Co Cork on Friday 20th September. 325 members sent 2804 birds to compete for £11,698 in pools and prizemoney. This was down on last year’s entry but this may have been due to the race having been brought forward to the Friday or to losses throughout the young bird season. As with the Old Bird National the race was divided into 3 sections and I will cover the top 5 in each section in this article.

The birds were liberated at 10am in calm conditions and on route the wind was to turn southwest and then westerly. This change in the wind is reflected in the velocities with the early pigeons in the North section doing velocities of over 1800 with the winners of the Middle section and the South section doing 1771 and 1640 respectively.

1st North Section, 1st Open, I Rollins & Son Hillsborough & Maze, Vel 1835, Flying 240 miles, winning £997 and the Tom Marshall Trophy  The winners of this year’s Skibbereen Young Bird National are the father and son partnership of Ivan and Clyde Rollins. It is basically only Clyde these days although the birds are still located at Ivan’s house. They had a great race here with other birds taking 26th, 87th, 166th and 183rd North section. Clyde feels that he has only started to race properly this past 4 years and they have had a great couple of years racing and last year were 1st and 2nd Open Young Bird Rosscarbery with the NIPA and this year were 1st Sect D 4th Open in Old Bird Rosscarbery. Things didn’t look too prosperous at the beginning of the young bird season when at the beginning of July Clyde took 69 young birds to Dromore for a training toss and was 43 missing overnight. Having gone all over the country to collect the missing birds he still ended up losing 24 from this toss. As a result, Clyde missed the first two races (area liberations) and felt that he was always playing catch up but he didn’t panic and he more than caught up at the end of the day. The winning pigeon is a light cheq tipped hen racing on the darkness. She was 31st Open NIPA Rosscarbery the week before. She was sent to Rosscarbery 15 days on eggs but Clyde slipped her a young bird the night before basketing for that race so she was still sitting on that young bird going to the Skibbereen National. The pigeon was bred by Andre Nauwelaerts and was collected at Lier market when Clyde was on the John Hollinger organized trip to Belgium in February. Now, John knows Andre well so a lot of guys on the trip had ordered young birds from Andre which they picked up at the Lier Market. When Clyde collected his bird it was in a basket of 9 birds between 3 guys. When Clyde looked at them this was the one he fancied but the agreement was that they would put the transfers in a hat and draw them out. Clyde was lucky to pick his National winner out of the hat. The hen had five races before the National and was Clyde’s most consistent racer having been 1st, 3rd, 4th , 5th  and 14th bird to the loft and was 67th Sect D, 157th Open from Roscrea with 24, 557 birds competing.  The youngsters were basket trained throughout the season and this peaked towards the end as we got nearer the big races. The young birds aren’t encouraged to pair but as they fly together they inevitably do towards the end of the season and they hit peak form at this time. Feeding is a Frazers mix.

Clyde Rollins

2nd North section, W Wicking Ligoniel, Vel 1829, Flying 253 miles, winning £542 

We move to the Ligoniel & District club for 2nd North section to the lofts of William Wickings. William enjoyed a super race with no less than five of his entry of fourteen birds in the prizes and all fourteen home. As well as taking 2nd North section, William was also 52nd, 65th, 112th and 114th North section. The pigeon at 2nd North section was a blue hen. A darkened youngster she was sent to the Skibbereen National just paired to an old cock and this hen has been a very consistent racer for William having been in the prizes the previous week from the NIPA Rosscarbery Young Bird race. This was another race where William did well with six in the top two hundred. This young hen was bred for William by Norman Armstrong and preparation for the race consisted of regularly training and being entered in all the inland races before the National.

William Wickings

3rd North section, D & J Campbell & Bigger Eastway, Vel 1826, Flying 257 miles, winning £579

We only have to move 4 miles further on for 3rd North section to the lofts of D & J Campbell & Bigger, Eastway.  This partnership is made up of Davy Campbell, his late father Jack and Hugh Bigger. This was another loft that had more than one bird in the prizes, for in addition to 3rd North section they had other birds placed at 75th, 104th, 109th, 110th and 113th North section. The bird at 3rd North section is a blue w/f cock and it is also a darkened young bird which was on a semi roundabout system, seeing his hen before basketing. This is another bird which was a prize winner in the NIPA Rosscarbery race when he was 42nd Section C and 124th Open. Earlier in the season he was 24th Section C, 95th Open from Clonmel with the NIPA. This cock’s sire is a double section winner and was bred by Alan Brown of Dunedin, whilst the dam is from the partnership’s own family. As the young birds were flying very well around the loft training down the road was only once per week from around 30 miles. 

Davie and Alastair Campbell

4th North section, O & M Monaghan Colin HPS, Vel 1823, Flying 248 miles, winning £332 

The next bird at 4th North section was to Owen and Michael Monaghan of the Colin HPS club and this was a blue cheq hen now named ‘Birthday Girl’ as it was Owen’s birthday on the day of the race. A darkened youngster she was flying to the perch and again this is another bird that had been a prize winner the week before from Rosscarbery when she finished 3rd club, 17th section, 51st Open. A consistent racer, ‘Birthday Girl’ flew all the inland young bird races and in addition was trained two or three times a week from Loughbrickland and Dundalk. She is bred on the dam’s side from a Staf Van Reet hen that was twice well up in NIPA Open results last year, while the sire is from Ian Gibb and is a Kees Bosuas. The Monaghans had a second pigeon in the result at 47th North section in this Skibbereen National.  

O & M Monaghan

5th North section J Greenaway Dromore, Vel 1820, Flying 235 miles, winning £377 

5th North section is another top loft, that of Jeff Greenaway Dromore and what a record he has in this race. He was 3rd Open last year, 3rd Open in 2009 and 2nd and 5th Open in 2008and in 2010 he was 27th North section. Earlier this year Jeff was 1st Open NIPA Penzance Classic and was also 1st Open Clonmel in the young birds with over 21, 000 birds competing. In that particular race Jeff had 16 birds in the top 32 of the Open result. As well as his two NIPA Open wins Jeff also had 4 x 2nd Opens in the NIPA, including Fermoy 5 Bird and the NIPA Yearling Hens National from Rosscarbery. The week previous to the Skibbereen National Jeff was 14th Open NIPA from Rosscarbery.The pigeon timed here is a Blue cock that was sent to this race driving his hen. The sire is a Janssen cock while the dam is one of Jeff’s best racing hens and is Andre Roodhoft x Marcel Sangers. A half sister of the 5th North section bird here was 1st Open NIPA from Fermoy last year. This young cock had all the inland races except the previous week’s race from Rosscarbery. The young birds are trained every day prior to the first young bird race and then are given a couple of tosses per week to keep them on their toes. Jeff would like to thank his wife Lisa who is a big help with the paperwork and his father Billy who looks after the stock birds. 

Jeff Greenaway

1st, 2nd 3rd Middle section, T Nelson Malahide Vel 1771, 1770, 1767,  flying 179 miles, winning £366 

The winner of the Middle section is Malahide’s Tom Nelson who had a magnificent race here taking the top three positions in the section and had another one at 14th section. This is a super performance when you consider that this section includes the counties of Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Cavan, Monaghan, Kildare, Roscommon, Longford, Donegal and Sligo. Tom lives out near Dublin airport and originally raced in the Ballymun club, only moving to Malahide club two years ago because there is a very strong focus towards the National Flying Club within the club. Since moving to the Malahide Tom’s ambition is to emulate the achievements of his clubmates Jimmy Cullen, P Rock & Son and G O’Reilly & Son who have all won the King’s Cup flying in the Malahide club. Tom’s first pigeon here taking 1st Middle section is a blue cock, on the dark system sent to this race looking at his hen. He is down from the ‘Chipo’ lines from Benny Steveninck on both sides. These birds were bought in from Belgium through Dave Starr. Prior to the National this young cock had only four young bird races.Tom’s second bird taking 2nd Middle section was bred by Mick Betts, Doncaster. This bird again contains the ‘Chipo’ lines. Tom has bought pigeons from Mick for the last ten years and has always been impressed by them and tends to buy a dozen young birds from Mick every year. This one is a blue hen sent sitting on chipping eggs. Tom’s third bird taking 3rd Middle section is a cheq cock, sent like the Middle section winner just looking at his hen. This one is one of ten brought in from D & J Campbell & Bigger who were 3rd in the North section in this race.Tom only entered six young bird races and won every one of them in the club, including Talbenny and Penzance. From Talbenny he was 2nd and 8th Open East Coast Fed and the same two pigeons were 10th and 20th East Coast Fed from Penzance Young Bird National with the first one 24th South section with the INFC. Training is from 40 miles three days a week during racing weather permitting, while feeding is from C & H Beattie and Donnelly Bros.

Tom Nelson

4th Middle section P McFadden Monaghan Vel 1746, Flying 205 miles, winning £50

4th Middle section goes to Patrick McFadden Monaghan who was 2nd Middle section in this race last year. Having just started back into pigeons in 2010 it is quite an achievement to gain two such good results in National racing in such a short time. Indeed Patrick has had a terrific young bird season having won 9 young bird races, taking 63 club positions in total. In the first young bird race of the year he took the top seven positions in sect E in the NIPA from Tullamore. In the Penzance Young Bird National he was 4th and 19th South section. As well as 4th section Patrick was also 29th and 36th section here.The pigeon timed here is a blue cheq pied cock from stock bought on the Elimar website from P Russell of Essex. He bought 4 pair and 3 of the 4 have already bred winners. The sire is ‘Penrith 62’, a Van Loon x Van Reet and is from a good racing line. The dam is a Louis Cooriman bred by Clarke Bros. The nest mate of this young cock was 19th section, 160th Open Penzance YB National while a full brother was 1st club Rosscarbery Old Birds this year. Patrick’s young birds had 13 tosses before racing began and then were flown at home for an hour morning and evening. Feeding is Beattie’s Champion Supreme mixed with a bit of Diet 200.

Patrick McFadden

5th Middle section S O’ Brien Monaghan Vel 1717, Flying 203 miles, winning £40

5th Middle section is yet another top Monaghan loft having a great end to the season, Stephen O’Brien. Stephen originally raced in Ballymun in Dublin but he was a bit younger then and eventually went out of pigeons due to work commitments. He moved to Monaghan and has been racing there for the past 15 years on and off and has been at his current location for the past 8 years. The pigeon timed is a cheq hen, on the dark and racing to the perch. She is bred from Stephen’s own stock which, are mainly Janssen and Busschaert and have been cultivated as a family over the years. Stephen had two other birds in the result here at 20th and 31st Middle section and all three are down from the same cock. The first one was his great grand daughter, the second a grandson and the third was an inbred daughter. The bird at 5th section, raced steady all year and was improving as the season went on. After the second race the young birds are flown around the house twice a day. This was her eighth race this year, having just missed the 1st Tullamore, Talbenny and Penzance. She was in Rosscarbery the week before and was the 5th pigeon to the loft. Stephen asked me to congratulate his good friend Patrick McFadden for a super year in the club.

Stephen O'Brien

1st South section D O’Neill Arklow, Vel 1640, Flying 157 miles, winning £91

The winner of the South section and a coveted Irish National Flying Club Diploma is Daniel O’Neill from Arklow. Daniel has been racing pigeons since 1986 but this has been one of his best years yet. He was 55th Open in the Yearling National and featured in the Old Bird National result from Skibbereen as well. The pigeon timed is a Blue Bar W/F cock sent sitting on eggs seven days. She had every inland race and was Daniel’s first bird from Castletownbere. The sire is from Donnelly Bros Newry and is bred down from their Friendship national winner ‘Lily’. It is also related to their 12th Open Yearling National winner. The dam is from Billy Cullimore Wexford, and is from the ‘108’ cock that topped the South Leinster Fed four times. ‘108’ is a half brother to ‘Stitch’, the sire of ‘The Special One’ the winner from Skibbereen OB National with the Irish National Flying Club in 2010.  ‘Stitch’ is also the grandsire of the 2010 Young Bird National winner ‘Westpoint Lady’. So this youngster is full of National winning lines on both sides. Daniel trains with Eric Kennedy twice a week from Wexford, which is a bout 30 miles. Feeding is Natural professional mix. Daniel wants to thank Tony Hobbs for all his help throughout the year.

Daniel O'Neill

2nd South section, R Fewings Rathnew, Vel 1639, Flying 167 miles, winning £39

Ron Fewings of Rathnew is 2nd South section  here. It’s hard to believe that this is only Ron’s third year racing as he was 3rd Open Penzance Young Bird National last year. He had pigeons when he was about 10 years old and raced until he was 18 when he started working. The pigeon timed is a dark cheq hen racing on the dark and sent to this race flying to the perch.  The sire is a Soontjens and was a gift from his good friend Brendan Doyle, Bray. Brendan had promised Ron a youngster but when it was just out of the nest it had an accident on the floor grills and broke its leg. Despite being offered a replacement Ron took this bird and what a good decision that was. The dam is Marcel Ambrecht. Ron’s first two pigeons were from this pair to take 2nd and 12th South section. It has been a great season for Ron, having won 13 x 1st prizes this year. He raced 11 young bird races and won 6 of them. He was also 4th in the North Coast Classic this year. Ron trains the young birds throughout the season until the third last race and then they are flown around the loft for about an hour in the evenings. Feedings is Natural Professional mix from Sheldon Leonard. Ron also uses Sheldon’s Brokamp system. Ron asked me to say a big thanks to his girlfriend Tracy and his brother Glenn for all their help with the training and the feeding.

Ron Fewings

3rd South section S Duffy Wicklow, Vel 1633, Flying 168 miles, winning £29

The Wicklow lofts of Seamus Duffy are 3rd South section. Seamus had a great year in 2008 when he had 11 x 1st prizes and topped the South Leinster Fed a couple of times. However work commitments were to take him away and he didn’t race again until last year, when he won the Old Bird Channel Averages and the Combined Channel Averages in the club, and this at a time when he was just moving house. His young birds have gone well this year and he has won 5 x 1sts in the club. The pigeon timed here is a dark cheq cock, racing on the darkness system and sent to this race flying to the perch. The sire is Staf Van Reet from Alan Duffy while the dam is Soontjens from Robert Duffy - pretty much a family affair as all three Duffys are related. A brother of this young cock was 1st club Kinsale and 1st club Barleycove. The young birds are trained every other day with cocks going one day and the hens going the next day. They are trained no further than 15 miles, usually from Arklow. Feeding is a basic Irish widowhood mix from Sheldon Leonard.

4th South section K Hodgkinson Wicklow, Vel 1628, Flying 168 miles, winning £29

4th South Section was won by Ken Hodgkinson of Wicklow who has had another great year in the Wicklow club with 3 x1sts and 8 x 2nds and with 7 or 8 in the club result most weeks. With two more birds in the section result at 8th and 14th South section this was another great race for Ken. The pigeon timed at 4th section is a mealy cock, a darkened youngster racing to the perch. All the young birds are in together and are allowed to pair if they want to but this one didn’t show much interest. He was a steady racer that had all the inland races. Breeding is the Jeff Kirkland x Kilpatrick lines and he is actually off the bird that was 7th South section, 10th Open Yearling National in 2011. The young birds had only five ten mile tosses before the first race but were flying really well around home. As they continued to fly well around the loft Ken just gave them an odd toss when he felt they needed one. All the young birds that did well for him this year were all from these same breeding lines.

Ken Hodgkinson

5th South section Murphy Bros Newtown-Kilpeddar, Vel 1625, Flying  miles, winning £29  5th South section in the Young Bird National are Murphy Bros Newtown-Kilpeddar who were 1st South section in this race last year and this is super racing from the young Murphys who are only in their second full year racing. The partnership is mainly Frankie and Craig but brothers Terry and Willie and their father Frankie also give a hand now and again. The pigeon timed here is a Blue hen, on the dark and who had just shown an interest in an old cock about 5 days before the race so they were fairly well settled as a pair when she was sent to the race. Breeding is Karel Hermans x Van Koppen from Gavin Morrison, Ballynahinch, Co Down. These birds have gone very well for the Murphys. The pigeon at 5th South section here was also 4th club Pilmore Beach and has been in the top three birds to the loft in the last few races. Her nest mate was 4th club from Penzance and just missed out on the South section result. Training is with club mate Eric Kennedy from Arklow (25 miles) 3 times a week, depending on the weather and what the previous week’s race was like. Their birds were just coming into peak form as the season ended and they had 20 out of 20 here. Liam Paisley has continued to be a big help to the lads as have all the guys in the Newtown-Kilpeddar club, and Jimmy Hamilton, New Ross has been particularly helpful this year. 

Frankie and Craig Murphy with Frankie's son Ross

The committee of the Irish National Flying Club would like to thank all those who helped at the marking station and all who helped at the clock centres. Thanks to Clifford Browne for his help in completing this report and to all who helped with photographs.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer