Ulster Pipe Band Season Kicks off at Newtownards

By Gilbert Cromie

The 2019 pipe band season got underway yesterday (May 11) at Newtownards Airport in the shadow of Scrabo Tower. Despite a bright and sunny day, a stiff breeze coming off Strangford Lough kept temperatures low. Sponsored by the North Down and Ards Borough Council, all manner of stalls and activities were laid on and this created a family friendly atmosphere which is what these events are all about.

It was disappointing with an already lower than usual entry that there should be further withdrawals reducing the entry to 26 bands. In Grade 1 World Champions Field Marshal Montgomery were the winners ahead of the PSNI who won the drumming.

Augharan Pipe Band, 4th in in 3B

Ravara took Grade 2 on ensemble preference and also won the drumming. They beat off the challenge of Manorcunningham who had the best pipe corps. This will please their Pipe Major Gordon Carson who was hospitalised during the week and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Closkelt, who were expected to be the band to beat in the section, withdrew due to some of their new players not being registered in time. Promoted St Mary’s Derrytrasna seem to be strengthened and won Grade 3A from Thiepval Memorial in second and third placed Battlehill who lifted the drum corps prize.

McNeillstown’s steady progress up the grades was confirmed as they had four firsts in 3B. Cullybackey, who are celebrating their centenary, did so in style by winning Grade 4A in which an improved and strengthened second placed Augharan won the drumming.

Mountjoy, who returned to the contest scene last year, came out with all guns blazing to take four first in 4B ahead of the improving Altnaveigh Memorial. Thirty drum majors competed with Lauren Hanna the Adult champion and Kathy Hunter (Juvenile), Louis Anderson (Junior) and Mia Buckley (Novice) winning the other sections.

Battlehill, 3rd in 3A

The full results were as follows: Grade 1: 1st Field Marshal Montgomery (also Best Pipes, Bass Section & M&D), 2nd Pipes & Drums of the PSNI (also Best Drum Corps).

Grade 2: 1st Ravara (also Best Drum Corps , Bass Section and M&D), 2ndManorcunningham (also Best Pipes).

Grade 3A: 1st St.  Mary’s Derrytrasna (also Best Pipes), 2nd Thiepval Memorial (also Best M&D), 3rd Battlehill (also Best Drums), 4thQuinn Memorial (also Best Bass Section).

Grade 3B: 1st McNeillstown (also Best Drums), 2nd Major Sinclair Memorial (also Best Bass Section and M&D), 3rd Kildoag, 4thAugharan.

Cullybackey winners in 4A

Grade 4A: 1st Cullybackey (also Best Bass Section and M&D), 2nd Augharan (also Best Drums), 3rd Kildoag, 4th Bessbrook Crimson Arrow.

Grade 4B: 1st Mountjoy (also Best Drums and Bass Section), 2nd Altnaveigh Memorial, 3rd Broughshane & District, 4th Ballyboley. Best M&D: Kirkistown.

Drum Majors: Novice: 1st Mia Buckley, 2ndCarys Graham, 3rd Katie Clarke, 4th Harry Mills, 5th Jorja Turkington. Junior: 1st Louis Anderson, 2nd Benjamin Walker, 3rd Leanne Crooks, 4th Jamie Lee Wilson, 5th Louise Smiton.

Stepping out…….Gransha Pipe Band

Juvenile: 1ST Kathy Hunter, 2nd Abigail Wenlock, 3rd Kathryn McKeown, 4th Charlotte Ruddock, 5th Katie Bicker.

Adult: 1st Lauren Hanna, 2nd Emma Barr, 3rd Jason Price, 4th Andrea McKeown, 5th James Kennedy.

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