The second half of the Northern Ireland competition season got under way with the Co Antrim Pipe Band Championships at Glenarm on Saturday.
Once again the Co Antrim Section’s annual event was held as part of the Dalriada Festival and while it certainly fits in well with the Highland Games atmosphere it doesn’t seem to have found great support from the bands.
Just 13 bands took part, however those who did turn out certainly impressed the crowds.
The absence of a grade one competition and low numbers elsewhere allowed the spotlight to fall on bands who haven’t always been at the top of their respective grades this season.
In grade two Thiepval Memorial from Co Donegal made a clean sweep of the prizes as they claimed first place and the trophies for best pipes, drums and bass section. Colmcille stepped up from grade 3a to claim second place.
Colmcille, from Londonderry, have been enjoying a wonderful season so far and that continued on Saturday with a dominant performance in grade 3a as they took top spot and collected the prizes for best pipes, drums and bass section. Two bands from grade 3b – Marlacoo & District and Matt Boyd Memorial – completed the prize list.
It was a good day for Marlacoo & District as they took the honours in grade 3b. The Co Armagh band placed ahead of Matt Boyd Memorial, Portavogie and Major Sinclair Memorial respectively. Marlacoo also won the drumming prize and shared the award for best pipes with Matt Boyd Memorial.
Into grade 4a and it was McNeilstown who claimed first place and the prize for best pipes ahead of Portavogie in second, who were winners of the prizes for best drums and bass section. Third place went to Whitewater.
All five bands were awarded prizes in grade 4b with Sgt Walker Memorial coming out on top. Gransha, Kildoag, Ballydonaghy and Major Sinclair Memorial completed the prizes. The trophy for best pipes went to Sgt Walker Memorial, while Ballydonaghy lifted the award for best drum corps and Kildoag collected the bass section prize.
There was a good number of drum majors taking part in the competition.
The Co Antrim champions for 2016 are Paula Braiden (Cullybackey), Emma Barr (Field Marshal Montgomery), Jamie Cupples (Killeen) and Zara Cupples (Cullybackey).
Grade 2: 1, Thiepval Memorial, also best pipes, drums, bass section and M&D; 2, Colmcille.
Grade 3a: 1, Colmcille, also best pipes, drums and bass section; 2, Marlacoo & District; 3, Matt Boyd Memorial, also best M&D.
Grade 3b: 1, 1st, Marlacoo and District, also best drums; 2, Matt Boyd Memorial, also best M&D; 3 on ensemble preference, Portavogie; 4, Major Sinclair Memorial. Best pipes shared between Marlacoo & District and Matt Boyd Memorial.
Grade 4a: 1, McNeilstown, also best pipes; 2, Portavogie, also best drums, bass section and M&D; 3, Whitewater.
Grade 4b: 1, Sgt Walker Memorial, also best pipes; 2, Gransha; 3, Kildoag, also best bass section; 4, Ballydonaghy, also best drums; 5, Major Sinclair Memorial.
Novice: 1, Zara Cupples (Cullybackey); 2, Louis Anderson (Crozier Memorial); 3, Carys Graham (Upper Crossgare); 4, Leanne Crooks (Syerla & District); 5, Louise Smiton (Closkelt).
Junior: 1, Jamie Cupples (Killeen); 2, Lucas Adamson (Gilnahirk); 3, Rachel Lowry (Armaghbreague); 4, Kathryn McKeown (Battlehill); 5, Charlotte Ruddock (Battlehill).
Juvenile: 1, Emma Barr (Field Marshal Montgomery); 2, Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest); 3, Lana Gibson (Ballyboley); 4, James Kennedy (Whitewater); 5, Gemma McDowell (Tullylagan).
Adult: 1, Paula Braiden (Cullybackey); 2, Alicia Dickson (Matt Boyd Memorial); 3, David Brownlee (Derryclavin); 4, Andrea McKeown (Battlehill); 5, Jason Price (Ballycoan).