Pigeon champ flying high again after theft of birds
A champion pigeon fancier who considered quitting the sport he loves after thieves raided his loft and stole £8,000 worth of his top birds is back winning less than two months after the setback.
At one stage after 50 of his pigeons were stolen in June, Harry McCloy (44), of Granagh Road, Cullybackey, said he was thinking about giving up racing, but after being overwhelmed with messages of support he has been entering races again - with success.
In his latest victory one of his pigeons was first home from Tullamore in the Republic out of around 2,000 birds from the mid-Antrim area, and recently he came seventh out of the whole of Ireland in a European event.
Mr McCloy declared yesterday: "I am back in business, the young birds have started now. I was seventh out of the whole of Ireland recently in the Irish National Flying Club in the French National. I did better than expected with what pigeons I had left. The old bird racing is finished so the young bird racing has started now.
"I have now won in my club and now I have won the Mid-Antrim Combine from Tullamore, being the best out of around 2,000 local birds.
"It was good. It is good to get back to winning ways and it has given me a wee bit of a lift after what happened. I wasn't expecting much from the young birds to be honest because I have not been paying them as much attention or training them as hard as other years.
"They were this year's birds and they were not stolen.
"The young birds are my future candidates, my future stock, and they are more important to me now than they would have been three or four months ago."
Harry has still not recovered his stolen birds and although he still receives the occasional phone call about their possible whereabouts, the trail appears to have gone cold.
Harry revealed in June that following the devastation of the theft of his prized birds - some of them all-Ireland champions - which he is blaming on jealous rivals, he was heartened by the response of the racing community for him not to give up.
He believes the raiders will keep the birds for breeding, as if they are let loose they will come back to him, as one already has.
He said the response from the public also persuaded him not to give up.
Police are investigating the theft of the prize birds and are appealing for information.