INFC Prize Presentation 2023

INFC Prize Presentation 2023

Irish Pigeon Night of the Year – Maguire Family win Kings Cup

The annual Night of the Year for the Irish National Flying Club was held as usual at the plush Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Friday 24th November 2022. It was another packed house, and we had a bit of a new team involved at the top table including new President Wesley Sawyers and new Chairman Cormac O’Hare, joined by long time Secretary Trevor Topping and guests for the evening Leonard McCavery who had just retired as Chairman for 10 seasons and from England John Wheatcroft GB Team Manager for the Olympiad Show. The Chairman welcomed the members and friends who had travelled from across Ireland, and he introduced the top table and guests. Brendan McLaughlin said grace followed by another excellent meal served by the staff at Stormont Hotel.

Prior to the presentation Len McCavery said it was an honour to have served as Chair for a decade and how pleased he was to be asked to assist with the prize presentation this year. He thanked all the members who had assisted during the year, especially during the major races and congratulated the winners. INFC Patron Ronnie Johnston was then invited to conduct the presentation, assisted by INFC officials. What a fantastic job, which Ronnie has done for several years.

As is the tradition last season’s winner of the Kings Cup C McAdrle & Sons, came forward to present the award to this season’s winners Mark Maguire & Son from Millvale in Newry. It was tinged with a bit of sadness that the great Malachy Maguire had passed away earlier in the year, how he would have enjoyed the presentation this season. In memory the loft have named their Kings Cup winner “Mal’s Dream”. Martin Graham from Ballymena joined the elite of the sport in 2023 when he won two Irish Nationals to add to the first one which he collected in 2018, taking 1st Open INFC in the Yearling National Sennen Cove. This year he wins the Yearling Nat for the second time and to follow that up with the Young Bird Grand National Penzance, the first loft in the history of the all-Ireland INFC to win two cross channel Nationals in one season. Other than Skibbereen, INFC Patron Ronnie Johnston checked from memory and discovered Ron Williamson did a double in 2004. 1st Open OB Skibbereen and followed that up with 1st Open Friendship Nat Fougeres when just two birds recorded in race time, Mr & Mrs Beattie had the other one. The Mid Antrim area and especially Ballymena & District HPS, have a long tradition of success and many of the old lofts that excelled were household names in the sport. The loft of J W & T Harper won the Old Bird Friendship Nat Falaise in 1977 and then the YB Nat Penzance in 1978, and the late William Erwin won the NIPA Old Bird Derby 1962 and then brought the famous Kings Cup to the town when “Moonlight Mannequin” won 1st Open INFC from Nantes in 1968 recording velocity 980ypm. His was one of the very few lofts to win both the NIPA and INFC Old Bird classic events from France. The final presentation is that of National Champion won this year in a close finish by R G & G Donaldson from Edgarstown in Portadown winners of the Friendship Nat St Malo, runner-up was Tom Mashall of Newtownbreda who won both France races in the East Down Combine. At least 10 former Kings Cup winners were in attendance.

Many thanks again this year to my daughter Bronagh for the help in getting me ready and for Adie who looked after the photos, a real busy day.

Below links for and Elimar reports

← NIPA Ladies Night 2023 - Young Bird Nationals 2023 - →

About the author

Willie Reynolds

Covering the sport in Ireland for several years, scribe for both BHW & RP and a number of local newspapers including the News Letter (Farming Life Supplement) each Wednesday. Secretary of Ballymena & District for a number of years and currently PO for the Mighty NIPA & INFC. Watch out for the many articles/news items penned by HOMER.

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