Darragh remains king of the lofts in successful year for Cullybackey HPS

The Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena was once again the venue for the annual Dinner & Prize presentation for Cullybackey HPS.

President Brian Herbison welcomed a good turn-out of members and friends. Special guests included sponsors Derek & Geraldine McDowell with an apology from Brian Hayes from the Bridge Garage who covered the Single Bird Nomination for the last number of years and supplies the feeding in the local store.

The officials and prize winners of Cullybackey HPS attending the annual dinner in the Adair Arms Hotel.

The officials and prize winners of Cullybackey HPS attending the annual dinner in the Adair Arms Hotel.

Following the meal Brian Herbison thanked the hotel staff for the lovely meal well served, he introduced the guests including local pigeon scribe “Homer” who is ever present at the function. Best wishes were sent to Betty Darragh who was in hospital at present and to Ring Secretary Hubert Logan who is recently out of hospital.

He had a special word for all the hard work over the season by Secretary Edrick Davidson who had good help from Neil Anderson and Len Russell, he also thanked all those involved at the club during both the racing and show seasons, a big lot of work.

Cullybackey remain as the National Centre for the NIPA and it can also be very busy in the comeback races when all the race crates for local clubs are loaded.

Covering the race season it was again Alan Darragh who emerged as Top prize-winner, every year bar two he has lifted the Russell Family Cup that going back to 1986. Alan won 16 cups and trophies and despite not sending for Sunday races won around 20 x 1sts. Total pay-out was around £650 and the leading lofts were Alan Darragh, Reid Bros & McCloy, Gibson & Dickey, Wendell Scott, Russell Bros, J & J Greer, H & R McCloy, Des Robinson, N & S Anderson and Charlie McDowell.

In Mid Antrim Combine the local club won 4 x Diplomas, all in the Irish Nat Flying club races. Three were won by loft to beat Alan Darragh who won from Skibbereen Old Bird, Sennen Cove Yearling Nat (62nd Open INFC) and Penzance Grand YB National (26th Open INFC). The seasons top result was in the Blue Riband Grand Nat Kings Cup with only three birds recorded locally Cullybackey had 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Mid Antrim Combine.

The Blue Riband of pigeon racing the INFC Grand Nat Kings Cup was flown from St Allouestre in France on Tuesday 8th July.

Just three gallant birds made home lofts on the day of liberation, overall winner was the first bird timed at 21.10hrs. Just 40 birds were recorded in the three days of the race. Those early on the second day included Wendell Scott of Cullybackey at 7.51am recording velocity 768 for the 506 miles taking 1st Club, 1st Mid Antrim Combine, 2nd North Sect & 4th Open INFC all pooled for a massive total of £4,521. He wins the INFC Single Bird Challenge plus the Joe Doheny Cup and a further £500 and McCloud Cup 1st Yearling in Kings Cup.

Before the Kings Cup this year the bird had two inland races, Talbenny and the INFC Yearling Nat from Sennen Cove, 9th bird home. In the Mid Antrim area the Cullybackey HPS have a fantastic record at the distance, in the Kings Cup former winner Alan Darragh had a bird early on the second day to finish 7th North Sect & 11th Open INFC and H & R McCloy also timed finishing 17th North Sect & 28th Open INFC. Two of the lofts also recorded arrivals in the NIPA St Malo, another very difficult race with just over 100 birds home, Wendell Scott timed another yearling Blue Ch cock on the third day, this bird has been named “Lorna’s Boy” after his other daughter and finished 11th Sect & 90th Open NIPA St Malo. Best bird for the second year in this one was Reid Bros & McCloy, who will ever forget the 1st, 2nd & 3rd MAC won in 2013 and H & R McCloy who was 2ndClub also won 1st MAC 2011.

Reid Bros & McCloy were in early on the second day, this is the same bird that won 1st Comb & Sect last season from Portland and will collect the Bronze Diploma. Look at this for the record: 1st Club, 1st MAC, 1st Sect B & 20th Open NIPA Portland 482/1697 vel 1083 in 2013 and then 1st Club, 3rd MAC, 3rd Sect B & 16th Open NIPA St Malo 404/1304 vel 659 in 2014. His dad who topped the Comb & Sect from St Malo in 2011 was well placed again and Wendell Scott got one on the third day as mentioned above. Cullybackey HPS continue to dominate in the long races from France.

Looking over the NIPA season old birds started at Tullamore and a first win for Alan Darragh then Roscrea where the winner was Reid Bros & McCloy who have been next best to the Darragh loft the last three seasons.

Winners the second time at Roscrea were the new team of Gary Gibson and Geoff Dickey, both having had great success when racing on their own.

The first big race was the Rosscarbery Inl Nat, won by Alan Darragh on velocity 2068 finishing 5th Comb & Sect and 88th Open NIPA 632/5,669. On the same day he had 1st Club in the comeback race from Roscrea. Neil & Steven Anderson came up with the winner in the first channel race from Talbenny.

Wendell Scott had the winner from Bude finishing 6th Comb, 10th Sect & 140th Open NIPA 727/8,754. The Yearling Nationals were flown on the same weekend from Rosscarbery, both won by Alan Darragh. In the Yearling Cock he had the top four and finished 2nd Comb, 4th Sect & 38th Open NIPA 431/2,171 on velocity 1601 while in the Yearling Hen he had the top three all well placed, 3rd, 5th & 6th Comb, 3rd, 6th & 8th Sect plus 68th, 91st & 107th Open NIPA 390/1,859.

Now to the young birds and fresh from his big success from France at the distance, Wendell Scott was best in the opening race flown from Mullingar, 1st & 2nd Club, and 10th Comb, Sect & NIPA Open 98/2,355 on velocity 1182.

The second Area Liberation was flown from Tullamore, Alan Darragh had 1st, 2nd & 3rd with the winner recording velocity 1366. In the first mass release the venue was again Tullamore, winners this time were Cochrane Brothers, then Alan Darragh won the next three, 1st & 2nd Roscrea, 1st, 2nd & 3rd Clonmel and 1st, 2nd & 3rd Fermoy (1). The Talbenny YB Nat was won by Russell Bros doing velocity 1411, the loft finished 2nd Comb, 3rd Sect & 11th Open NIPA 419/3,002.

Wendell Scott a former winner of this event had the next three arrivals finishing 73rd, 100th & 105th Open NIPA. On the same day Alan Darragh had three quick birds in the Roscrea comeback, and followed that up the next week with 1st & 2nd Fermoy (2) finishing 3rd Comb & 7th Sect. On the same day as this race J & J Greer took the honours in the Fermoy 5 Bird Championship flown in duplicate. Finally it was Rosscarbery Inl Nat and yet another win for Alan Darragh - still the man to beat in another top season of competition for the Cullybackey club.