Field Marshal scoop top grade at banding tournament

The Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band during a previous performance
The Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band during a previous performance

Field Marshal Montgomery marched off with the first United Kingdom Pipe Band Championship grade one title at Stormont Estate in Belfast on Saturday.

The reigning world champions also lifted the prize for best drums on a top day of piping and drumming for Ulster bands in excellent conditions and in front a large crowd.

Four points was the margin of victory for Field Marshal ahead of Scottish Power, St Laurence O’Toole, Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate, Inveraray & District and Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia.

This success extends Field Marshal’s dominance of the premier grade following their recent British title win at Bathgate and sets them up nicely for the upcoming Craigavon & District Championships and then the European Championships at Forres at the end of the month.

Staying in grade one Cullybackey will be pleased as they finished eighth overall with Ravara and Ballycoan 12th and 13th respectively.

There was huge celebrations from the members, friends and followers of Bleary & District as the band claimed the grade 2 title. Lomond & Clyde were second and won the drumming while there was a well-earned fifth place for Manorcunningham.

Grade 3a went to Royal Burgh of Stirling on ensemble preference from second place Johnstone, winners of the drumming prize. Ballybriest landed third place while Annsborough nipped into fifth place on ensemble preference from New Ross & District.

There appears to be no stopping Thiepval Memorial in grade 3b as the Co Donegal band landed double silverware by topping the grade and winning the drumming prize. There was also a prize for Matt Boyd Memorial who took fourth.

Lochmaben Royal Burgh took top spot in grade 4a ahead of Closkelt while Cloughfin and Marlacoo & District also featured in the top six. Best drums went to Vale of Clyde.

There was a grade and drums double for Burntisland & District in grade 4b. Local prize winners were McDonald Memorial from Dromore, Co Down, in fourth with Whitewater fifth.

The Ulster Scots Agency juvenile band competed in the novice section finishing eighth overall.

Northern Ireland’s drum majors landed a clean sweep of silverware emphasising their expertise at the discipline. Eighteen prizes were up for grabs and all 18 were won by local competitors.

Cullybackey’s Paula Braiden is the UK champion at adult level with Emma Barr (PSNI) and Zoe McDowell (Aughintober) winning at juvenile and junior level respectively.