The next and final RSPBANI Branch competition of the season will take place on Saturday August 6th at the Donard Park, Newcastle, County Down. There is an entry of thirty seven bands including Field Marshal Montgomery and St Laurence O’Toole in Grade 1 and thirty three drum majors.
This event will also see the culmination of the seasons Champion of Champions competition and a large crowd is expected to attend, particularly for the end of competition parade.
On Saturday July 23rd the grounds of Ballymena Academy hosted the Ulster Pipe Band Championships and a very successful event it turned out to be with a large crowd and decent weather except for a heavy shower in the mid- afternoon. There were thirty one band entries and twenty six drum majors.
A highland dancing competition was also in full swing throughout the day such is the popularity of this genre in Northern Ireland over recent years. There were few surprises amongst the results with Ravara having a clean sweep of the prizes in Grade 2 and Clogher & District edging out an improving Matt Boys Memorial in Grade 3A. Cullybackey dominated in Grade 3B however the emerging 4A band Kildoag lifted the drumming title. Kildoag also had a clean sweep of the prizes in Grade 4A.
Syerla & District’s domination of Grade 4B continued however it was good to see emerging bands such as McDonald Academy and Hollymount securing 2nd and 3rd placings. Closkelt were awarded the Ulster Championships unopposed however they put on two excellent performances in their MSR and Medley runs which were very much appreciated by the spectators. Emma Barr had her first win in the Adult drum majors while Louis Anderson closed the gap In the Juvenile Champion of Champions on Charlotte Ruddock who did not compete. Mia Buckley won the Junior section and Jorja Turkington continued her dominance of the Novice grade.
Results: Drum Majors:
Novice: 1st Jorja Turkington. 2nd Mia Lily Fraser, 3rd Lydia Todd, 4th Willow Rose Elliott, 5th Molly Bell
Junior: 1st Mia Buckley, 2nd Carys Graham, 3rd Rafaela Fields, 4th Molly Gilmore, 5th Debbie Gilmore.
Juvenile: 1st Kathy Hunter, 2nd Leanne Crooks, 3rd Louis Anderson, 4th Louise Smiton, 5th Grace Thompson. Senior: 1st Emma Barr, 2ndLauren Hanna, 3rd Kara Gilmour, 4th Andrea McKeown, 5th Kathryn McKeown. Bands:
Grade 4B: 1st Syerla & District [also Best drums and bass section], 2ndMcDonald Academy [also Best Pipes], 3rd Hollymount. 4th Altnaveigh Memorial. Best M&D Major Sinclair Memorial.
Grade 4A: 1st Kildoag [also Best Pipes, Drums, Bass Section and M&D], 2nd Cloughfin, 3rd William Kerr Memorial, 4th Raphoe Ulster Scots.
Grade 3B: 1st Cullybackey [also Best Pipes & M&D], 2nd Major Sinclair Memorial, 3rd Kildoag [also Best Drums and Bass Section], and 4th Broughshane.
Grade 3A: 1st Clogher & District [also joint Best Pipes and Best Drums] 2nd Matt Boyd Memorial [also joint Best Pipes], 3rd Tullylagan, 4thAugharan.
Grade 2: 1st Ravara [also Best Pipes, Drums, Bass Section and M&D], 2ndManorcunningham, 3rd St Mary’s Derrytrasna, 4th Clogher & District.
Grade 1: 1st Closkelt [also Best Pipes, Drums, Bass Section and M&D].
On a minor and fairly petty point, but for historical purposes, this was in fact the 68th,not the 71st Ulster Championships as was advertised due to the fact that no competitions were held in 1969 [government ban on parades/gatherings] or in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.