INFC Single Bird Challenge – Much Coveted Trophy
In 2003 the Irish National Flying Club introduced into their race programme a very special award to be known as the Single Bird Challenge writes Irish Rover.
The Kings Cup was the chosen race and each member had to select a single pigeon with an entry fee of £5. This to me is the ultimate challenge with every member on a level playing field. This award was the brainchild of David Black now INFC Chairman. In the early year of the competition the entry was just over 200 pigeons.
The Committee of the INFC decided that the club would sponsor the race and the entry fee. The entry for the past two years has been in excess of 500. The winner also receives the magnificent Doheny Cup presented to the club by double Kings Cup winner Joe Doheny. The first three pigeons in the Single Bird Challenge each receive a Framed Diploma sponsored by Wesley Sawyers of Sawyers & Co, Estate Agents, Banbridge.
The first winner of the Single Bird Challenge was the outstanding loft of McCracken Bros of Banbridge. Messac was the National race-point – 732 members sent 1981 birds liberated at 6.00am. The McCracken Bros pigeon won 3rd North Sect & 3rd Open INFC on a velocity of 628ypm, collecting in pools and prize-money of £6,229. Second in the Single Bird Challenge was N Black & Son of Dromara winning 8th Open INFC and £1,400 while John Ramsey & Son of the Glen Invitation finished 3rd in the Challenge and 10th Open INFC plus £1,400.
The 2003 National proved to be very hard with only 21 birds in the race time and yet the Top 3 in the Single Bird Challenge finished in the Top 10 of the Open result. The 2003 winner for McCracken Bros was none other than the famous “Lucy”. This outstanding hen was to win the coveted Hall of Fame Diploma three times an Open INFC prize-winner in the Blue Riband Kings Cup. In 2002 15th Open INFC Redon, 2003 3rd Open INFC Messac and 2004 105th Open INFC Messac.
The 2004 Single Bird Challenge was again flown from Messac on 1st July – 712 members sent 2025 birds liberated at 7.00am in a South West wind and yet only 134 were recorded in race time (three days). The Challenge winner was Hugh Gilligan of Stillorgan winning 3rd South Sect & 24th Open INFC. C & L Woodside of Ballyclare were 2nd in the Challenge and 26th Open INFC, 3rd and 62nd in the INFC Open went to the Holywood loft of R & R Russell.
On to 2005 and the race-point again Messac – 703 members sent 2048 birds liberated at 6.30am into a light South West wind. Winner of 1st Single Bird Challenge, 17th North Sect & 19th Open INFC were Malachy Maguire & Son of Newry. Second in the Challenge was the top National loft of Liam McCall winning 4th South Sect & 25th Open INFC and 3rd in the Challenge was the popular Harry Silcock of Dromara who finished 32nd Open INFC. The second bird was to win the Hall of Fame Diploma a super Red cock raced by Liam McCall of Wicklow. In 2003 20th Open INFC Messac, 2004 13th Open INFC Messac and in 2005 25th Open INFC Messac. An outstanding pigeon the three OB Nationals from Messac that this bird was placed to win the Hall of Fame all proved to be very hard races.
In 2006 the INFC moved to Vannes for the Kings Cup – 675 members sent 2163 birds liberated at 6.15am into a light North East wind. The Single Bird Challenge winner was Gary Benson of Lisburn and this remarkable hen was 12th Open INFC. This is a super hen as with this result in 2006 she also won the Hall of Fame Diploma. In 2004 51st Open INFC Messac, 2005 44th Open INFC Messac and then in 2006 12th Open INFC Vannes. She improved her position in three successive years. Second in the Challenge was Ronnie Williamson of Bondhill in 15th Open INFC and close up in 3rd place was his club-mate Malcolm Robinson winning 17th Open INFC.
The Kings Cup races in 2007 and 2008 were cancelled for various reasons and it was not until 2009 that the Single Bird Challenge was resumed. The winner that year from Vannes was Jim Robinson, Edgarstown and his Single Bird Challenge winner finished 9th Open INFC. Former Kings Cup winner Alan Darragh from Cullybackey was Challenge runner-up finishing 11th Open INFC and Tommy McClean a recent Triple Crown Award winner was 3rd in the Challenge to finish 30th Open INFC. From Vannes 2009 – 770 members sent 2619 birds liberated at 6.15am into a light Westerly wind.
On to 2010 and Vannes again the race point – 741 members sent 2512 birds, the convoy was liberated at 7.30am into a light North wind. The Single Bird Challenge winner was the outstanding National loft of Paul Dunlop Edgarstown and Paul’s hen finished 13th Open INFC. Bobby Gray of Kingsmoss was 2nd with his Single Bird entry placed 27th Open INFC. Former Kings Cup winner Maurice Wilkinson of Wilton Cross was 3rd in the Challenge and 43rd Open INFC. Fot the second year in susseccion the National Club enjoyed a very successful race.
2011 and the Single Bird Challenge and Joe Doheny Cup went to the South Sect loft of Anthony Morgan of Trim in County Meath, with just a two bird entry his Challenge pigeon was 3rd Open INFC. The Shankill & District loft of Brown & Anderson was runner-up finishing 14th Open and Geoffrey Douglas a former Kings Cup winner from Wilton Cross was 3rd finishing 22nd Open INFC. Vannes 2011 – 820 members sent 2702 pigeons.
The 2012 Single Bird Challenge was flown from Vannes – 794 members entered 2783 birds. This was to turn out a very bad race with only 71 birds home in race time (three days). The Single Bird Challenge saw the closest finish in the history of the race. 1st Willie Neill of Annaghmore finished 2nd Open INFC on velocity 1002ypm and runner-up in the Challenge C Quinn of Milltown was 3rd Open INFC recording velocity 1001ypm. The South Sect loft of F & J Crowe of Gorey took 3rd in the Challenge and finished 12th Open INFC. The Challenge winner was “Champion Ivy” bred and raced by Willie Neill. This Red Cheq hen went on to win the coveted Hall of Fame Diploma. The three races were from Vannes – 2010 82nd Open INFC, 2011 111th Open INFC and 2012 2nd Open INFC with cash winnings in excess of £3,000. The 2nd pigeon is also out of the top drawer winning cash awards in excess of £4,500 and also collected an INFC Merit Award twice in the Open prize list from the Kings Cup.
The entry for the 2013 Single Bird Challenge will be in excess of 500, this event is very special!