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Yearling National Sennen Cove - 2013



by Brendan McLoughlin


The Irish National Flying Club’s Yearling National was originally due to be held on Wednesday 12th June this year but due to adverse weather it was put back almost on a daily basis as our race controllers scanned the weather forecasts awaiting an opportunity for the race. Eventually they gave the go ahead to mark the birds on Monday 17th June for a race on 19th June. This turned out to be an excellent call by the team as we ended up having one of the best Yearling Nationals for years, with a good spread in the result and with well over 1,000 birds on the day with lots more on the second day. 800 members sent 4474 pigeons to compete for £34,852 in pools and prizes and the birds were liberated in Sennen Cove at 8.30am in a light north- west wind. The race was sponsored by Bucktons Quality Racing Pigeon Foods and we are very grateful to them for their sponsorship.

1st North section, 1st Open J Brown Blackwatertown WE, Vel 1151, flying 303 miles winning £1336 and the Nelson Corry Trophy

The winner of the Yearling National sponsored by Bucktons this year is Blackwatertown’s Joe Brown who had a superb race here with 5 birds in the result at 1st, 7th, 25th, 63rd and 245th Open winning over £2,300 in the process. With two birds in the top ten he will also be the winner of the Sam Buckley Memorial Cup for the best two bird average. Joe is well known throughout the pigeon sport in Northern Ireland and is a very worthy winner of the Nelson Corry Cup. The yearling National is a race that many fanciers like as it is based on a level playing field with all birds being yearlings. I know that Joe is very proud of this win on what was a great racing day.

The winning pigeon is a blue hen now known as ‘G8 Lady’ as this was the week that the G8 summit was being held in Northern Ireland. Indeed Joe has named all the birds he timed here after the G8 summit, a momentous occasion in N Ireland to match Joe’s momentous result. The breeding is Soontjens x Willy Jacobs from his stock pigeons. This yearling hen was raced as a Natural young bird and had only two young bird races which would have been comeback races later in the season. This year she started off on the roundabout and was paired for the Yearling National. With the race being put back a week she ended up sitting 6 days on a young bird. Joe’s aim was to have the Yearling National pigeons all sitting on chipping eggs going to the race. She got all races this year up to and including 1st Talbenny which wasn’t an easy one. When asked about feeding Joe said it was a mixture of several top brands which he mixes himself.

Joe Brown of Blackwatertown, 1st Open Yearling National with Sinead Cotter of Bucktons Feeds and Linda Marshall of Marshall Feeds

2nd North section, 2nd Open Mr & Mrs B McNeilly Doagh & Dist, Vel 1149, flying 324 miles, winning £566

2nd Open goes to Mr & Mrs B McNeilly of the Doagh & District club. Brian and Elaine are top class racers having won 45 races in the last 4 years and were awarded the President’s Cup by the NIPA in 2011 for outstanding race achievements, and were runners up for Section C Fancier of the Tear in the same year. They had two more birds in the result here at 11th and 174th and just missed out on winning the Sam Buckley Cup.  The pigeon at 2nd Open is a blue Van Rijn cock, racing widowhood and is from their original Van Rijn stock. This was a darkened young bird raced through to Fermoy as a youngster and like the winner was in the 1st Talbenny this year. This bird’s brother is the winner of 6 x 1sts in Doagh including 1st section Pilmore Beach,1st section 26th Open Fermoy, 4th section, 10th Open Rosscarbery NIPA National, 7th section, 57th Open Fermoy 5 Bird and 7th section 31st Open Penzance Classic. The following year he was 10th section Rosscarbery National.  His dam is a sister of ‘The St Malo’ cock, a winner of 1st club, 1st section, 7th Open Talbenny, 1st club, 7th section, 31st Open St Malo.  This bird was also a winner of six club races.

Brian and Elaine have had numerous top ten positions in the competitive section C of the NIPA this year and from 2nd Talbenny they were 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th and 27th section. The birds are given 5 tosses before the first race and thereafter are flown round the house but they are never flagged.

Brian McNeilly

3rd North section, 3rd Open K Rooney, Son & Dtr Annalong, Vel 1145, flying 279 miles, winning £380

We move to Annalong in Co Down for our third Open bird to the lots of Kevin Rooney, his son Kristopher and daughter Keeva. Their lofts are situated at the foot of Slieve Binnian in the Mournes, a very picturesque setting for a top class loft. This result is an ideal tonic for the family as young Kristopher was involved in an accident at work about a month prior which resulted in two fractured bones in his spine and two punctured lungs. Thankfully he is making a good recovery and was at home to see the birds arrive from the National. Keeva too has been an added bonus to the partnership and plays an active part.

The pigeon timed here is a chequer hen raced as a darkened young bird where she took a couple of minor club positions. Her sire is from G & P Lindelauf and is a son of ‘Tours’ when paired to ‘Fire Eye’. This bird is the grandsire of the bird that was 3rd Open Bude, 58th Open INFC Skibbereen and also sire of 2nd Open East Down Combine Durrow. The dam is a daughter of Marijke Vink’s number one pigeon ‘Che’, when paired to a grandson of ‘Kliene Dirk’ of Koopman.  This pair is the Rooney’s number one stock pair and has bred several prizewinners. This year the hen was selected for this race before racing started and had only 2 inland races and the 1st Talbenny prior to the National. Feeding is Vanrobaeys with beans added for the channel, while the birds are trained up until the second race then flown around home.  The Rooneys have really hit a purple patch here as they were 4th Open East Down Combine from 2nd Talbenny and 5th, 8th, 12th and 31st Open EDC from Penzance.

Kevin & Kristopher Rooney

1st South section, 4th Open O Kirwan Gorey, Vel 1137, flying 183 miles, winning £529 and the James McGrugan Memorial Cup for the winner of the section not winning the Open.

1st South section 4th Open is Owen Kirwan from Gorey in Co Wexford. Owen is no stranger to success at National level having won this race in 2008, having been 6th Open in 2007 and then 10th Open in 2009. He was also 7th Open in the Penzance Young Bird National last year. This is a great series of results at National level and shows that Owen has that uncanny ability to prepare his birds for the Nationals. The pigeon timed is a chequer hen and is Janssen x Soontjens. Like the winner this bird was started on the roundabout and was then paired for the Yearling National. She was sent sitting 10 days so the extra week probably worked to her advantage.   As a young bird she was raced on the dark and was raced down Ireland and not given any channel racing. The sire was 1st club, 1st section B, 16th IHU National Barleycove this year, while the dam was clocked in this race in 2010. This was a great race for Owen as he got 12 out of 14 birds sent to the National, with his second bird taking 75th South section.

Owen gives the birds 3 or 4 tosses before the first race and then its exercise for an hour morning and evening. Feeding is a mixture of Versele Laga and Natural and the birds are treated for respiratory, worms and canker prior to racing. In closing Owen asked me to thank Eamon O’Brien and the lads in Wicklow for all their help at the clock station.

Owen Kirwan Gorey

4th North section, 5th Open Grattan Bros Eastways, Vel 1134, flying 318 miles, winning £205

5th Open are Grattan Bros from the Eastway club just north of Belfast and this is another loft that needs no introduction having been 3rd Open Skibbereen Old Bird National and 2nd Open Skibbereen Young Bird National last year to win the Charles Hunniford Memorial Trophy for best average (North section)Skibbereen Old and Young Bird Nationals. Nowadays the partnership is made up of Tommy and his sons Jack, Justin and Jamie.  The pigeon timed here is a Blue cheq frilled cock which the boys have named ‘Friller’. The sire is from Ronan Kynt, Belgium and the pigeon that was 3rd National from Skibbereen last year is from a nest mate of the sire.  The dam is from Tommy’s very good friend John Luke & Son, Durham. The Grattans have received a lot of very good birds from the Lukes in recent years. The 5th Open Yearling National bird was a darkened youngster and was a very consistent racer. He was in the result of both the NIPA Rosscarbery and the INFC Skibbereen National results. This year he was raced widowhood and was given some inland races and 1st Talbenny before being sent to the Yearling National.

The birds are given two tosses before the start of the season and are then flown twice a day for an hour. Feeding is the best they can get from Cyril Beattie and Will McClelland. Tommy said that despite being 3rd and 2nd from the Old Bird and Young Birds Skibbereen Nationals and having been 4th and 10th Rosscarbery in the NIPA Young Bird National last year their 43rd Open position from the King’s Cup last year was the most pleasing result of all.

Tommy, Justin and Jack Grattan

2nd South section 6th Open S Leonard & Son Arklow Utd, Vel 1132, flying 188 miles, winning £1135

2nd South section for the second year in a row is Sheldon Leonard and his son Wylder from the Arklow Utd club. This time they are 6th Open winning £1,135 and had two more birds in the Open result at 219th and 252nd. The bird timed here, now named ‘Tramp’ because of her slow trap, is a half sister to ‘Blue Sisqo’, 2nd Open Yearling National in 2012. The sire of both these pigeons is ‘Showman 11’ from Janssen Bros, while the dam of ‘Tramp’, is from Wynants in Belgium and is a daughter of his number 2 pair, which Sheldon has since purchased for Gordon Bros, Cloughey, in Co Down and they have bred winners for Gordon Bros in their first season. Sheldon and Wylder sent 3 daughters of ‘Showman 11’ and the Wynants hen and timed all 3 with ‘Tramp’s nest sister also in the result. This was a very successful race for the Leonards having had 13 home out of 14 with 12 on the day.  Sheldon was very pleased to have timed the Janssens, Sablons and Aerens pigeons close to each other as this gives them proven lines to work with in the future. ‘Tramp’ was flown on widowhood with her partner remaining at home at all times. She flew every race as a youngster and as a yearling winning many prizes along the way.  She was flown to the perch all week throughout the season and only getting her box on a Friday evening and a Saturday. Perches are put in front of the boxes all week for the widowhood hens.

Sheldon asked me to thank all the lads in the Wicklow clock station for doing a great job and making everyone feel welcome.


3rd South section, 7th Open E Kennedy & Son Newtownkilpeddar, vel 1129.62, flying 209 miles, winning £591

Eric Kennedy and his son also called Eric are 3rd South section 7th Open and had another one close behind at 17th Open. Now, many a year that would be good enough to win the Sam Buckley Cup but this year he has to settle for third in that quest. Nevertheless this was a superb race for the Kennedys and betters their previous best National Open position of 11th in the Young Bird National in 2006. The pigeon at 7th Open is a grizzle cock, raced on roundabout and then paired and sent to this race sitting 16 days. The sire is Vandenabeele x Reintbank (Galaxy Lofts), a winner from Penzance twice in 2009, when he was 26th East Coast Fed and then 9 days later was 25th East Coast Fed. In 2010 he was 1st club 5th Fed from Pilmore Beach and then he was 1st club from the King’s Cup when he was timed on the second day just outside the prizes. The dam is from Sheldon Leonard & Son and is Hofkens x Janssen from Andrew Roonhoft’s brother Gustaaf (The Grizzle Man).

The grizzle cock was raced on the ‘Dark’ as a young bird and had all inland races when he was a steady racer. This year he was picked out for this race, raced down Ireland (only from Tramore and Pilmore Beach) and then straight into this race as Eric doesn’t like Talbenny. Eric has his own transporter and training is two is three times a week from 30 miles. Feeding is Merrimans ‘French Plate’ mixed with Natural Diet Energy.

Eric Kennedy and son

5th North section, 8th Open J Brown Blackwatertown WE, Vel 1129.57, flying 303 miles, winning £ 585 and the Sam Buckley Memorial Cup for best two bird average

We go back to our winner Joe Brown in Blackwatertown for 5th North section, 8th Open who with two birds in the top ten is the winner of the Sam Buckley Memorial Cup for the best two bird average which rounded off a perfect day.  The bird at 8th Open is now known as ‘G8 8’, and is a white hen, which was sent the same way as the first one, on a six day old youngster. The sire of ‘G8 8’ is Staf Van Reet x Soontjens while the dam is a Soontjens. Again like the winner, this bird had only two young bird races and these were towards the end of the season in the comeback races.

Joe doesn’t pick out birds at the beginning of the year for this race but rather waits until nearer the time and sends the birds that are in the best form. It is Joe’s opinion that when you pick them at the beginning of the season or even through the winter that they will never see the race as there are just too many obstacles about these days. As a matter of interest Joe’s 3rd pigeon at 25th Open was 114th North section, 155th Open in the Young Bird National from Penzance last year and I’m sure that he will find it hard not to consider the possibility of competing for the Triple Crown from next year’s King’s Cup. All of these birds were timed in the very difficult 1st Talbenny this year.

4th South section, 9th Open W Bollard & Son Finglas, vel 1126, flying 230 miles, winning £2569

4th south section, 9th Open goes to newcomers William Bollard and his son Joseph who only started to race pigeons in 2010 so they are obviously thrilled with this result. The pigeon timed is a yearling Louis Cooremans hen. Her parents were received from Donal Kelly Cabra, and originated from Bob and Steven Fenech. This yearling hen flew 8 young bird races including Talbenny. This year she was flown on the roundabout system and was sent to the 1st Talbenny, a difficult race in a north-west wind and was 6th club, 53rd Open. After this William and Joseph had only one thing in mind for this bird and that was the Yearling National. She was one of four entries they had for the race and with a similar wind they were confident that they would get an early one. The hen didn’t let them down and was timed at 2.29pm to be the best bird in the clock station.

Feeding is Versele-Laga and Natural which is bought from Sandyhill Pigeon Stud and Direct Supplies. William and Joseph would like to pay a special thanks to Donal Kelly, Cabra for supplying these excellent pigeons and for all the help and advice he has given them over the past three years. Joseph told me that the best advice that Donal gave him was, that if he wanted to be successful in pigeons to buy a good alarm clock.  They would also like to thank all the members of Finglas club for their support.

W. Bollard and son


5th South section, 10th Open N Grant & Son Balbriggan, vel 1125, flying 244 miles, winning £155 and the Charles Ingle Memorial Trophy for 10th Open Yearling National

We move to the Balbriggan club, just north of Dublin for our 10th Open bird, to the lofts of N Grant & Son.  Noel Grant was a stalwart of the Irish National Flying club and served on the committee for many years. When he passed away in 2010 his son Adrian decided to retain the partnership’s name and in his first year racing on his own Adrian was 9th Open in the Yearling National which was a very proud yet poignant result for him.

The pigeon timed for 10th Open here is a Blue cock whose sire was a gift pigeon from P Rock & Son, Sherries and Adrian is very grateful to these top National flyers for this bird. The dam is from the stock that Noel had nurtured and developed over the years into a fine distance team. The bird was sent to the race feeding a five-day-old youngster and he was in top condition on arriving home. He was given five races down Ireland and then mated for the channel races. As a young bird he was raced ‘natural’ and was only given two races. As Adrian likes to concentrate on the French races he usually misses the first couple of young bird races as he has to try to catch up on the training. Feeding is Versele- Laga Gerry Plus, Superwidowhood, peanuts and Frazerform. Training is with John Flood but Adrian likes to go north road when training privately.  In closing Adrian asked me to thank Teddy Guildea for all his help during the year.

Adrian Grant

I’d like to thank everybody who helped with photographs for this report and to all the fanciers who give me an insight to their birds and racing methods.

Kings Cup update:

The permit to liberate at Nort-sue-Erdre was cancelled on 13th June by the FCF. A new site has been arranged at Saint Allouestre. This is just a short distance from Vannes.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer