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Brendan McLoughlin



The curtain came down on the 2012 racing season when the Irish National Flying Club held their Young Bird Inland National from Skibbereen in Co Cork. 404 members sent 3,423 birds to compete for £14,692 in pools and prizemoney. This was slightly up on last year’s entry of 3037 birds, which was encouraging with all the bad weather that had persisted throughout the summer. 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 9.45am in a light northeasterly wind, which was to change to southeasterly on the way home. This change in the wind is reflected in the velocities with the early pigeons in the North section doing velocities of over 1500 with the winners of the Middle section and the South section doing 1399 and 1349 respectively.


1st North Section, 1st Open, E & M Curran Armagh, Vel 1517, Flying 218 miles, winning £1132 and the Tom Marshall Trophy


The winners of this year’s Skibbereen Young Bird National are the father and son partnership of Eamon and Matthew Curran from the Armagh club. Eamon and Matthew began racing 12 years ago when Eamon who had been a long distance lorry driver gave that up. Eamon had always been very friendly with Gerard Campbell and they followed a lot of pursuits together including fishing and shooting. I suppose it was inevitable that when Eamon was to find a bit more spare time that he would follow Gerard into the sport of pigeon racing.

Eamon & Matthew Curran with 'Postmistress'.

The winning pigeon, now known as ‘The Postmistress’ is off a son of ‘Figo’, a Reynaert pigeon, while the dam is a daughter of Gerard Campbell’s ‘74’ cock, a pigeon that had won 25 x 1st prizes in Armagh HPS. The grand-dam of the pigeon timed here won the NIPA Open, Classic and Jubilee race this year for G & A Campbell. The Currans and Campbells tend to share stock birds and both have benefited from this. ‘The Postmistress’ is a blue hen racing on the dark system and was racing to the perch. Eamon and Matthew began the season racing 30 young birds, which is a small team by today’s standards. The birds are fed a Versele-Laga young bird mix from Cyril & Hilary Beattie. They get this twice a day, with a half an ounce given in the morning and an ounce in the evening. The young birds are trained hard and are tossed from Carrickmacross (25/30 miles) from Monday to Friday, weather permitting when the racing starts.

The Currans entered three birds in this race and had another one in the result at 76th North section. Eamon and Matthew had been 1st club from the Fermoy 5-Bird race and could have been well up in the Open but for a mix up about going to the Centre. They are the proud winners of the Tom Marshall Trophy here.


2nd North section, Grattan Bros Eastway, Vel 1512, Flying 256 miles, winning £788


Just 5ypm behind the 1st North Section pigeon are Grattan Bros of Eastway who have enjoyed a fantastic end to the 2012 young bird season having the previous week finished 4th and 11th in the NIPA Rosscarbery National and both these birds are in this INFC result. It is the blue cheq cock that was 11th in the NIPA National which is 2nd North section here. You will recall that in the INFC Old Bird National from Skibbereen this loft was 3rd North section, which by anyone’s standard is very consistent flying. The Grattan Bros team is dad Tommy and sons Justin, Jack and Jamie and these two race results in the two Skibbereen Nationals means that they win the Charles Hunniford Memorial cup for the best average (North Section) INFC Skibbereen OB and YB Nationals.

The blue cheq cock at 2nd North section is a darkened young bird and he went to Skibbereen on eggs almost due to hatch. He is a Soontjens, the sire originating in Belgium whilst the dam was bought at the Blackpool show from the lofts of Locker and Breckon. As I mentioned, this cock had already proved himself with 11th in the Rosscarbery National just prior to Skibbereen and Tommy and the boys had in addition given him a couple of tosses with John Abernethy (Harmony Lofts), with John having provided some excellent training and had birds down as far as Mullingar. The Grattans feed Top-Flight Young Bird mix to their youngsters, which they get from Willie McClelland and it is a combination of these factors, which has led to the partnership enjoying such a good season. As well as 2nd North Section this loft was 78th, 144th and 183rd North section and the bird at 144th was 4th NIPA Rosscarbery National.


3rd North section, J Greenaway Dromore, Vel 1503, Flying 235 miles, winning £617


3rd North section is a loft which has a tremendous record and which has had another terrific season, that of Jeff Greenaway, Dromore. Jeff is no stranger to success having won an NIPA Open from Rosscarbery in 2004. He has already been 2nd and has been twice 3rd in this race. Over the last few weeks he has hit a purple patch, having been 1st and 2nd Open NIPA Fermoy, plus great results from Talbenny and Penzance as well as from Rosscarbery the week before the National. In fact the blue cock timed in Skibbereen was 8th Open in Rosscarbery. A January hatched young bird raced on darkness he had every young bird race except Talbenny and Penzance and was sent to Skibbereen driving his hen.

Jeff Greenaway.

The birds are flown once a day in the evening and the team has plenty of private training from 30/40 miles. The feeding is Versele-Laga SuperSport plus some trapping seed, with tea added to the water a couple of times per week.

This was a superb race for Jeff with 10 birds in the result here taking 3rd, 26th, 35th, 37th, 59th, 65th, 67th, 102nd, 152nd and 178th North section – a great way to finish any season.


4th North section, B & H Marshall Newtownbreda, Vel 1502, Flying 251 miles, winning £488


At 4th North section are the husband and wife team of Bertie and Helen Marshall of Newtownbreda who timed a blue hen, a darkened youngster which was a gift from fellow club member Richard Lambe and whose bloodlines are Van Loon and Herman Ceuster. This little hen has been a great racer for the Marshalls and prior to her success from the Skibbereen National had been 20th Open East Down Combine Fermoy and 5th Open East Down Combine in the 1st Skibbereen Young Bird Derby. She also flew the 2nd East Down Combine Skibbereen Derby and in addition had won the club pools. I say little hen for I believe she is quite a small pigeon. She went to the Skibbereen National sitting eggs 12days.

Bertie & Helen only race a small team of darkened youngsters but also have a team of natural young birds which are very lightly raced and allowed to mature for it is the longer Old Bird distance races which interest them most. Both Bertie and Helen are actively involved in the administration side of the INFC, Bertie being on the INFC Committee and both are actively involved in the running of the Charity Show at Christmas.


5th North section R Williamson Bondhill, Vel 1501, Flying 230 miles, winning £360


5th North section is another top loft, that of Ron Williamson Bondhill. Ron is widely acknowledged as one of the top fanciers in Europe with a host of Open and National wins over the years from all distances. Ron timed a December hatched blue cock sent feeding a ten-day young bird. He had six races prior to Skibbereen and was in the prizes from Rosscarbery the week before. The sire was 2nd Open St Malo in 2011 while the dam was 1st Open Bude 2010. These are top class lines and support the adage that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. 

Ron feeds a mixture he makes up himself and adds B12 to the water twice a week.

Ron Williamson (rt)


1st Middle section, P Coughlan Monaghan, Vel 1399, flying 208 miles, winning £90


1st Middle section is Packie Coughlan from the Monaghan club. Packie won his first race in 1965 but thinks that his section win here is the best result he has ever had and he has had quite a few over the years. The section winner is a blue hen on the dark that was sent sitting 14 days on eggs. The sire is a Harthog x Soontjens bought from Pat Breen in Portadown while the dam is one of Packie’s own Janssens. Incidentally her nestmate was 1st club in the come back race from Tullamore. She had most races this year and was Packie’s third bird from Rosscarbery the week before. Packie is a small team man and started the Young Bird programme with 38 youngsters. He lost very few birds in the inland racing but lost 5 in Talbenny and a few training before racing began to end the season with 26 youngsters.

The birds are trained hard before the racing begins and then they have one or two tosses per week from Granard in Co Longford, which is over 30 miles with Ciaran Shannon. This has been a good year for Packie in the Monaghan club and he had two birds in the Skibbereen Old Bird National result.

Packie Coughlan.


2nd Middle section, P McFadden Monaghan, Vel 1385, flying 205 miles, winning £70


We stay in Monaghan for the 2nd Middle section pigeon and the loft of Patrick McFadden. This is only Patrick’s second year racing and what a year he has had. He won 4 young bird races and had numerous other positions as well. His best race was undoubtedly from Roscrea when he was 1st, 12th, 20th, 55th section, 3rd, 45th, 57th and 142nd Open NIPA. Patrick has a second bird in the result here taking 43rd Middle section. In this his second year racing he won the Young Bird averages in the club and was well positioned in the Old Bird averages as well. Patrick had pigeons when he was 13 or 14 but didn’t stick at it then, but in 2010 he bought some stock birds and that was him back into pigeons.

The pigeon timed here was a blue bar cock on the dark racing to the perch. The sire is from Frank Todd Muckamore and contains bloodlines from N Black & Son Dromara and John Abernethey Ballynahinch. The sire is from the best of clubmate Richard Mulligan’s distance pigeons. This bird had been a steady racer all year without featuring in the prizes before the National. Patrick started the season with 78 young birds with 20 of these kept natural. Feeding is Beattie’s Champion Supreme and training is usually with Ciaran Shannon. Patrick didn’t train the birds in August at all but rather flew them an hour in the morning and the same in the evening. They had one toss the week before this race just to sharpen them up. Patrick would like to thank Cyril Beattie for all the help and advice given since he started to race.

Patrick McFadden.


3rd and 4th Middle section, G Kelly & P & B McEvoy, Castlebellingham, Vels 1383, 1382, flying 200 miles, winning £ 454


3rd and 4th Middle section go to the Castlebellingham partnership of Philip McEvoy, his son Blaine and his nephew Graham Kelly but there is no doubt that Blaine has been the main man this past four years. Blaine spends a lot of time on the Internet researching the pigeon world, analyzing performances from around Europe to see how he can improve performances for the partnership. He is very friendly with a lot of top pigeon men and takes on board any advice he is given.

On the day of the National Blaine had been in contact with Sheldon Leonard and knew what time they would need to be timing so when they got two birds together at 1.59pm ahead of the expected time, the next couple of hours were quite anxious for the partnership. As they heard all the times from around the Dublin area and they knew they were beating them all. It was only when the times filtered through from Monaghan that they knew they had missed out on the section win, but two in the top five of their section is a wonderful result especially with east in the wind.

Blaine McEvoy.

Both birds timed were hens on the darkness and they had raced the full young bird programme apart from Talbenny and Penzance. The bird at 3rd section was a gift bird from G & P Brown Annsborough from pigeons they had obtained from Annalong’s K Rooney & Son. The breeding of this one is Eric Carbroni x Danny Van Dyck. The pigeon at 4th section is a Soontjens from Blaine’s good friend Jim Newell Annalong. These two birds were 1st and 2nd club from Owenahincha the previous week in the exact same order. The partnership has won 12 races this year and all the other winners were Jim Newell Soontjens, including the pigeon that was 110th Open in the Penzance YB National.

Feeding is Versele-Laga from Tom Nelson in Dublin, while training is twice a week from Dublin, approximately 20 miles. The young birds are raced on the roundabout and are flown for an hour in the evenings. They rear 80 young birds and 20 of these are kept Natural.

The partnership asked me to thank G & P Brown for the gift of this young bird and Jim Newell for all the pigeons he has given them as well as for his help and advice.


5th Middle section Breada Deegan Dublin North County, Vel 1369, flying 180 miles, winning £195


5th Middle section is yet another top loft having a great end to the season, Breada Deegan from Dublin North County. Breada has a string of top performances to her name including a very good bird from Penzance Young Bird National, which was 5th Open. This was another super result for Breada who entered three birds in the race with her second bird taking 44th Middle section.

Her first pigeon timed in the Skibbereen National is a blue cheq hen hatched in February and raced on darkness. Sent racing to the perch she had every inland race and plenty of private training, sometimes twice a day with her husband Noel. The sire of the bird timed is a Grondelaar while the dam is a Soontjens. Feeding is Versele-Laga Jerry Plus with Champion Plus added as the races get harder.

Breada Deegan.


1st South section Murphy Bros Newtown-Kilpeddar, Vel 1349, flying 170 miles, winning £184


This partnership is made up of brothers Frankie, Terry, Willie and Craig and was only formed last year. They have named their lofts as ‘Magpie Lofts’ after their local football club. They were too late to join any club last year but managed to send their birds to a few races as trainers. They stared the Old Bird season this year with 7 birds and managed to take a superb 4th South section in the Old Bird Skibbereen National. They have done even better here as they take 1st South section to finish their first season with a flourish.

Their section winner is a Belgian rung youngster and is one of 6 they bought of Sheldon Leonard. The breeding is Beullens x Audenaerde and the grandsire was 10th in the Belgian National from Barcelona. A darkened hen she was raced on the roundabout but paired up three days prior to basketing for this race. She had the first two races from Tramore then the next two from Pilmore Beach and the come back race from Pilmore. On the day of the race she was the only one of their 8 entries that came on the right line with the others coming from a more inland direction.

Frankie & Craig Murphy with Frankie's son.

The young birds are fed a regular amount mornings and evenings and nearly always have something added to the water except for Thursdays and Fridays when they get fresh water. The lofts are cleaned every day and the birds are trained from 25 miles 4 days a week before the first race and after that its reduced to 2 or 3 days a week with the birds put up in fives in 5 minute intervals. The birds for the National were selected after the first couple of young bird races and had Pilmore Beach 2 weeks before Skibbereen as their last race and were given two short tosses in the week before the National. The brothers would like to thank Liam Paisley Stillorgan for all the help and advice he has given them, Sheldon Leonard for the birds and all the members of the Newtown-Kilpeddar club for their help and encouragement.


2nd South section, V Brady Jnr Bray – South End, Vel 1328, flying 172 miles winning £131


Vincent Brady Junior is 2nd South section with a March born youngster that was raced Natural. This blue hen is a Willy Jacobs youngster from Mr & Mrs Gerald Delaney’s Oroory Hill Stud. While this bird was in the natural loft all along she switched over to the dark loft about a month ago, and despite Vincent’s efforts to return her to the natural loft she always made her way back to the dark loft. She had only 4 races prior to the National and was 5th club from Pilmore Beach and was Vincent’s third bird from Owenahincha. She only started to race in the second half of the young bird programme.

Vincent lives in Kilmacanogue on the N11 Dublin to Wexford road and has been racing since 1997. His father had raced before him from 1954 to 1990 and so Vincent Jnr was brought up in a pigeon background. As soon as the young birds are flying for around a half an hour and are flying together Vincent starts to basket them and they are trained from then on, and are not flown around the house afterwards. If I tell you that when the bird arrived home from the National there were two Red Kites flying over the loft you will understand why Vincent does this. The birds are trained every day until racing starts and then they are trained according to what Vincent feels they need Monday to Wednesday and sometimes on Thursday depending on the weather. Feeding is from Corn Direct and is a good strong mix rather than widowhood or breakdown.

Vincent Brady Jnr.


3rd South section F Doyle & Family Rathnew, Vel 1326, flying 167 miles, winning £45


The Rathnew lofts of F Doyle & Family are 3rd South section and the partnership is made up of Frank Doyle, his wife Catherine and daughter Sharon. They have been racing since 2000 but this is their first attempt at this race for 8 years as they had been racing naturally and hadn’t been able to find any birds well enough feathered to compete.

The pigeon timed at 3rd section is a Wals Zoontjens x Willy Jacobs. The sire is the Wals Zoontjens and is from Geoffrey Douglas and was bought at the Wicklow & Rathnew Breeder Buyer in 2011. The dam is a Willy Jacobs hen and is another from Mr & Mrs G Delaney’s Oroory Hill Stud. The young blue hen was a darkened youngster and was sent to the race on chipping eggs. She had all the inland races but this was her first position although she had been a steady racer. The Doyle Family have raced well this year and were 1st club Owenahincha the week before the National and had taken quite a few other positions.

Feeding is a Natural Young Bird mix from Sheldon Leonard while training is a 25-30 mile toss every day Monday to Thursday with Sean Shannon weather permitting.

Francis & Sharon Doyle.


4th South section G Large Newtown-Kilpeddar, Vel 1314, Flying 173 miles, winning £35


4th South Section was won by Greg Large Newtown-Kilpeddar, who races with the East Coast Fed. Greg originally from South Africa came to Ireland some 10years ago and has been racing here for the last 4 years having previously raced for 5 or 6 years in his native South Africa.

Greg timed a blue cock; an April hatched darkened youngster sent to Skibbereen looking at an older hen after being given a box the Sunday previous to the race. The breeding of this cock is Staf Boeckmans x Chris Debacker Vandenabeele. This cock has been consistent from the first race in which he was 4th club. Greg flies his birds daily and then it is a 40-mile toss on Wednesday with Eric Kennedy who he says looks after his trailer of trainers like they were his own. Greg’s birds are fed on Beyers Zoontjens which he gets from Sandyhill and Vanrobaeys red cribs and then towards basketing day maize and Beyers Energy mix.

Greg would like to take this opportunity to thank Jimmy Hamilton of New Ross, Jimmy Green of Birmingham and Shane Langton for kind and generous supply of stock this year. He was also full of praise for the members of the Newtown Kilpeddar club who have made him so welcome, for as he said himself racing in Ireland is very different from that in South Africa but it looks like he is getting the hang of it.

Greg Large


5th South section Gregory Bros Rathnew, Vel 1310, Flying 167 miles, winning £30


5th South section in the Young Bird National are Gregory Bros Rathnew who need no introduction at all having been winners of the South section in the Old Bird National from Skibbereen. They are previous Irish National Flying Club winners having won the Skibbereen Young Bird National in 2002. Since Tommy and Roger started to build this family of pigeons 15 years ago they have won 6 Nationals, 40 Fed and 16 Opens, which is quite some record.

The pigeon timed here is the same way bred as the section winner from the Old Bird National. The sire is a Staf Van Reet from Jeff Greenaway, Dromore while the dam is Delbar/Jan Arden with a touch of Soontjens and Staf Van Reet. A full sister was clocked in the King’s Cup in 2009 and a cousin was 6th Open Friendship National last year. The dam has bred 12 winners with 3 different cocks. The dam is a full sister of the 2007 Yearling National winner for J & J Merrigan, Rathnew. These bloodlines go all the way back to ‘Hercules’, a Delbar/Jan Arden cock.

The bird timed here is a natural hen flying to the perch. The young bird loft this year was a timber loft 12’8’ with a divide in the middle and had only perches, there were no nest boxes in it. Feeding is GerryPlus and a Natural Young Bird mix from Sheldon Leonard. The birds get a 20-mile toss every day Monday to Thursday from the north. On Friday mornings the young birds are fed at 10am and are then given a bath around noon for 20-30 minutes.

Gregory Bros.


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 and Davy Black for their help in completing this report and to all who helped with photographs. I would like to add my personal thanks to Clifford Browne and Davy Black for their help in completing this report and to all who helped with the photographs.


Brendan McLoughlin

INFC Press Officer