Pigeons: Prize Night for Ballymena & District HYPS

Shaun Oneill


Shaun Oneill



THE local Adair Arms Hotel was again the venue for the dinner and presentation of prizes for Ballymena & District HYPS on Saturday night.

A good turn-out of members and friends were made welcome by Vice-Chairman Martin Graham who said grace just before dinner was served, a choice of Turkey & Ham or Roast Beef. Following a very nice meal Secretary Willie Reynolds thanked all those present for attending the annual presentation and we send best wishes to Charlie McManus who had to pull out due to illness, get well soon Charlie. He congratulated all the season winners, Mid Antrim Combine was topped eight times, W & J Smyth and R Service & Son in the Old Birds, then in the Young Birds wins for Blair & Rankin and 2 x 1sts for J Eagleson & Sons top prize-winners for the third season on the trot. The outstanding achievement was by Martin Graham who joined the elite of the sport adding to the long list of Derby & National winners in Ballymena & District going back decades. He won the highly prized Yearling Nat, a race proposed by myself and first flown in 1978. All told he had 3 x 1sts in the Mid Antrim INFC competition, 1st & 2nd in the Kings Cup only two birds home arriving early on the second day and then 1st and only bird in the YB Grand National from Penzance.

Pay-out for the season was almost £1,000 which included specials, Johnston Eagleson & Sons who race to the Cullybackey Road just pipped Blair & Rankin in a photo finish. Martin Graham was best again in the INFC competition and he set a record which will take some beating the highlight of which was the lofts success winning the Yearling National from Sennen Cove. He had the only two birds in the Kings Cup from St Allouestre taking 1st & 2nd MAC and then in the YB Grand National from Penzance had the only bird timed and took 1st MAC. In winning the Nelson Corry Cup in the INFC Martin joins a long list of National & Derby winners in the famous Ballymena & District, many household names in the sport at the time. On top of that he wins the Harkers Cup for Best Ave Yearling Nat and his favourite Penzance Young Bird National.

The Top 10 winners were – J Eagleson & Sons, Blair & Rankin, W & J Smyth, R Service & Son, Martin Graham, McFall & McManus, G & A Eagleson, Robert Alexander, Billy Ramsey and George Bell.

INFC prizes – Martin Graham, Billy Ramsey, W & J Smyth, Blair & Rankin and George Bell. New members R Service & Son made a big impression in their first year and things could change especially in the INFC competition with Martin Graham cutting back for a year and Billy Ramsey moving house and leaving the sport.

Racing Season results -

The various race winners were starting with Old Birds: Tullamore 10/251 Blair & Rankin vel 1825 (9th MAC), Gowran Park (1) 12/330 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1346 (6th MAC), Fermoy 13/406 W & J Smyth vel 1841 (8th MAC), Gowran Park (2) Blair & Rankin vel 1660 (15th MAC), Rosscarbery Nat 12/102 M Graham vel 1919 (8th MAC), on same day Corrin 11/263 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1922 (3rd MAC), Fermoy (2) 11/253 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1157 (2nd MAC), Talbenny (1) 11/127 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1465 (11th MAC), Fermoy 5B 9th June 9/38 Blair & Rankin vel 1427 (4th MAC), problem getting result from Centre only 5 birds MAC, Talbenny (2) 10/92 W & J Smyth vel 1264 (1st MAC & 1st Sect B), Dunmanway replaced Bude 8/69 R Service & Son vel 1741 (3rd MAC) liberated Sunday at 11.30am, Dunmanway Ylr Cock Nat 5/17 Blair & Rankin vel 1539 (3rd MAC), Dunmanway Ylr Hen Nat 5/16 R Service & Son vel 1666 (1st MAC & 1st Sect B) liberated Sunday at 10.45am. Lack of info from Centre, reduced result. Penzance 10/61 R Alexander vel 1111 (11th MAC), Penzance Champ 9/57 R Alexander vel 1111 (6th MAC).

In the major race from St Malo in France only a handful of birds were recorded and none into Ballymena, some change that from years back when the NIPA Open was topped locally. Just 6 birds in Section B and two in MAC including W & J McLean who won 1st Sect A.

The young birds started as planned on 21st July although the second race was cancelled due to weather problems after that all races were one week later with the season finishing 23rd September at Rosscarbery. The first two races were as usual Area Liberations from Mullingar. Young Birds: Mullingar (1) 5/104 McFall & McManus vel 1161 (15th MAC), Mullingar (2) 10/238 Blair & Rankin 1st & 2nd vel 1356 (2nd & 3rd MAC), Tullamore 11/267 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1471 (1st MAC), Gowran Park 11/272 Blair & Rankin vel 1774 (1st MAC), Fermoy (1) 10/240 J Eagleson & Sons 1st & 2nd vel 1372 and 1370 (1st & 2nd MAC), Fermoy (2) 10/186 J Eagleson & Sons vel 1448 (6th MAC), Talbenny Nat 6/22 W & J Smyth vel 817 only bird on day with second day arrival confirmed for J Eagleson & Sons, on same day Roscrea 8/145 J Eagleson & Sons 1st & 2nd vel 1685 (4th & 5th MAC), Dunmanway 6/58 Blair & Rankin vel 1723 (3rd MAC), Dunmanway 5B 6/23 R Service & Son vel 1645 no Cullybackey Centre result, Rosscarbery Nat 4/37 R Service & Son 1st & 2nd vel 1047 and 1036 (5th & 7th MAC).

Irish National Flying Club: Skibbereen Old Bird B Ramsey vel 1071 (8th MAC), Sennen Cove Yearling M Graham vel 1419 (1st MAC) and 1st Open INFC, Billy Ramsey 2nd & 3rd Club, Kings Cup Grand Nat M Gaham 1st & 2nd vel 411 and 405 (1st & 2nd MAC only 2 birds), Friendship Nat Lamballe no birds home in club (3 birds in MAC), Penzance YB Grand Nat M Graham vel 1220 (1st MAC) and 11th Open INFC, Skibbereen M Graham vel 1381 (5th MAC).

The cups and trophies were presented by Sammy Steele the President of Cullybackey HPS and the Prize Cards and MAC & Sect B Diplomas by Donna Service, who also conducted the raffle.

Many thanks to all those who assisted with the prize night, James Harris, Robert Alexander, Robert Service, Bertie Blair, George Bell, Martin Graham who set up the dinner, and Valerie Eagleson who wrote up the prize cards for the fourth year, all those who brought many prizes for the raffle and the sponsors who support us each year faithfully.

Diary Dates for Ballymena & District members – NIPA Agenda mandate of Delegates on Monday 4th February, Ballymena AGM on Monday 18th February, the Fees etc. on Monday 25th February, all at 8.00pm. Resolutions for the AGM in writing please, to the Secretary before 31st January 2019, and any resignations.

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