Mid-Ulster Pipe Bands championship celebrates 60th year

Winning drum majors Kathy Hunter (Manorcunningham), Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial), Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest) and Lauren Hanna (Drumlough) pictured with Jim O'Neill, Chieftain of the Gathering
Winning drum majors Kathy Hunter (Manorcunningham), Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair Memorial), Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest) and Lauren Hanna (Drumlough) pictured with Jim O'Neill, Chieftain of the Gathering

The Mid-Ulster Section of the RSPBANI Branch hosted its annual championships at the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena on Saturday.

This event marked the 60th anniversary of the Mid-Ulster Section hosting a contest having joined what was then the Scottish Pipe Band Association NI branch way back in 1955.

Pipe Major Richard McGrath (left) and members of Cullybackey Pipe Band collecting the band's winning silverware at the Mid-Ulster Pipe Band Championships in Cookstown

Pipe Major Richard McGrath (left) and members of Cullybackey Pipe Band collecting the band's winning silverware at the Mid-Ulster Pipe Band Championships in Cookstown

This year’s event attracted a strong turnout of bands and drum majors, although some withdrawals certainly impacted, particularly in grade one.

Cullybackey went home with a clean sweep of the prizes at the top level after the withdrawal of Ravara made it a one-horse race.

Grade 2 provided much more competition with Bleary & District collecting first place ahead of the PSNI, Manorcunningham and Thiepval Memorial respectively.

Bleary also lifted the prize for best pipes while the awards for best drum corps and bass section went to the PSNI.

Grade 3a was by far the closest contested with a mere three points separating no less than six bands. In this instance, due to the judging set-up, the deciding factor was piping preference.

Taking top spot in 3a on piping preference was Annsborough, with New Ross & District in second. Drumlough took third place on piping preference from Ballybriest in fourth.

The prize for best pipes in grade 3a went to Annsborough with Ballybriest taking the bass section award. Aughintober won the drumming on their first outing of the season.

Into grade 3b and it was Colmcille who took the honours ahead of Upper Crossgare, Matt Boyd Memorial and Finvoy. Colmcille had the best pipes and bass section with Upper Crossgare continuing their winning run in the drumming.

McNeilstown recorded their first win of the season in grade 4a and won the prize for best pipes. Marlacoo & District were second with Tamlaght O’Crilly in third and Cullybackey fourth. Tamlaght O’Crilly won the drumming while Raphoe lifted the prize for best bass section.

Portavogie were the victors and collected the prize for best pipes in grade 4b which featured no less than 16 bands. Second place went to McDonald Memorial, who also won the drumming, with New Ross third and Ballyboley claiming fourth place on piping preference.

Mid-Ulster champion drum majors are Lauren Hanna (Drumlough), Lauren Abraham (Ballybriest), Lana Gibson (Major Sinclair) and Kathy Hunter (Manorcunningham).

Results

Grade 1: 1, Cullybackey, also best pipes, drums and bass.

Grade 2: 1, Bleary & District, also best pipes; 2, PSNI, also best drums and bass; 3, Manorcunningham; 4, Thiepval Memorial.

Grade 3a: 1 on piping preference, Annsborough; 2, New Ross & District; 3 on piping preference, Drumlough; 4, Ballybriest, also best bass section. Best drums: Aughintober.

Grade 3b: 1, Colmcille, also best pipes and bass section; 2, Upper Crossgare, also best drums; 3, Matt Boyd Memorial; 4, Finvoy.

Grade 4a: 1, McNeilstown, also best pipes; 2, Marlacoo & District; 3, Tamlaght O’Crilly, also best drums; 4, Cullybackey. Best bass section: Raphoe.

Grade 4b: 1, Portavogie, also best pipes; 2, McDonald Memorial, also best drums; 3, New Ross & District, also best bass; 4 on piping preference, Ballyboley.

Drum majors

Adult: 1, Lauren Hanna, Drumlough; 2, Alicia Dickson, Matt Boyd; 3, Brian Wilson, Lomond & Clyde; 4, Jason Price, Ballycoan; 5, Andrea McKeown, Battlehill.

Juvenile: 1, Lauren Abraham, Ballybriest; 2, Zoe McDowell, Aughintober; 3, Emma Barr, PSNI; 4, Caitlin Graham, Upper Crossgare; 5, James Kennedy, Whitewater.

Junior: 1, Lana Gibson, Major Sinclair; 2, Kathryn McKeown, Battlehill; 3, Jamie Cupples, Killeen; 4, Rachel Lowry, Armaghbreague; 5, Tyrone Graham, RSPBA.

Novice: 1, Kathy Hunter, Manorcunningham; 2, Zara Cupples, Cullybackey; 3, Abigail Wenlock, Cullybackey; 4, Charlotte Ruddock, Battlehill; 5, Leanne Crooks, Syerla & District.