The curtain came down on the 2018 NI pipe band contest season at Portrush on Saturday and despite the many reservations about the venue, the Lansdown Road car park, everything went smoothly.
Despite the adverse weather in other parts of the country it was a pleasant day which contributed to the large crowd who attended.
I would like to echo the sentiments of the Chieftain of the Day, councillor Brenda Chivers, the mayor of the Causeway Coast and Glens Council, who congratulated the NI Branch on their superb organisation of the contest.
Prior to the announcement of the results the Thompson family presented a trophy to the NI Branch in memory of Ian a former piper with the Major Sinclair Memorial.
Both the NI Branch and the council made presentations to the visiting New Zealand Police Pipe Band with their representative mentioning in his Maori and English response that this was the sixth time that the band had come to Ireland.
Much to the disappointment of the crowd the PSNI had withdrawn from the Grade 1 contest a few days earlier leaving the impressive New Zealand Police to have a comprehensive victory, although all credit to the Grade 2 Closkelt for putting on a good show.
All season five bands have dominated Grades 2 to 4B, however only McNeillstown (Grade 4A) could maintain their record.
Grade 2 Champion of Champions Closkelt were pushed into second place by a super showing from Ravara while in Grade 3A Quinn Memorial took the honours over Marlacoo & District and into the bargain snatched the Drum Corps Champion of Champions title from them.
St Marys Derrytrasna have dominated 3B and rightly claimed the Champion of Champions titles for band and drumming; however, Clogher & District were very deserving of their win in the grade on Saturday. This youthful band is definitely one to watch out for next year.
McNeillstown won 4A with yet another solid performance which saw them crowned Champion of Champions although Raphoe Ulster Scots did take the drumming honours on the day.
Gransha have had a brilliant season lifting the Champion of Champions crown for all three sections in Grade 4B, however on the day a super piping performance from Scottish champions Bessbrook Crimson Arrow won the day.
In the drum major competitions winners on the day were Lauren Hanna (Adult), Kathy Hunter (Junior) and Louise Smiton (Novice), and they also claimed Champion of Champion titles.
The other winner was Kathryn McKeown (Juvenile) with Jamie Cupples taking the Champion of Champions title for that section.
Grade 1: 1st New Zealand Police (also Best Pipes, Drums, Bass Section and M&D), 2nd Closkelt.
Grade 2: 1st Ravara (also Best Pipes shared, Drums and Bass Section and M&D), 2nd Closkelt (also Best Pipes), 3rd Colmcille, 4th Manorcunningham.
Grade 3A: 1st Quinn Memorial (also Best Pipes, Drums and Bass Section) 2nd Marlacoo & District (also M&D), 3rd Thiepval Memorial, 4th Matt Boyd Memorial.
Grade 3B: 1st Clogher & District (also Best Pipes, Drums and Bass Section) 2nd St Mary’s Derrytrasna, 3rd Major Sinclair Memorial, 4th Tullylagan. Best M&D: Raffrey.
Grade 4A: 1st McNeillstown (also Best Pipes and North West Band), 2nd McDonald Memorial, 3rd Kildoag, 4th Cullybackey (also Best M&D). Best Drums & Bass Section: Raphoe Ulster Scots.
Grade 4B: 1st Bessbrook Crimson Arrow (also Best Pipes), 2nd Gransha (also Best Drums), 3rd Sgt Walker Memorial, 4th Ballyboley, 5th Broughshane & District. Best Bass Section: Altnaveigh Memorial.
2018 Champion of Champions
Grade 1: PSNI (Band, Drum Corps & Bass Section).
Grade 2: Closkelt (Band, Drum Corps & Bass Section),
Grade 3A: Marlacoo & District (Band), Quinn Memorial (Drum Corps and Bass Section).
Grade 3B: St Marys Derrytrasna (Band and Drum Corps). Tullylagan (Bass Section).
Grade 4A: McNeillstown (Band and Drum Corps). Tamlaght O’Crilly (Bass Section).
Grade 4B: Gransha (Band, Drum Corps & Bass Section).
Adult: 1st Lauren Hanna, 2nd Alicia Dickson, 3rd Andrea McKeown, 4th Emma Barr, 5th James Kennedy.
Juvenile: 1st Kathryn McKeown, 2nd Kara Gilmour, 3rd Jason Nicholl, 4th Rebecca Hamilton, 5th Rachel Lowry.
Junior: 1st Kathy Hunter, 2nd Abigail Wenlock, 3rd Zara Cupples, 4th Leanne Crooks, 5th Charlotte Ruddock.
Novice: 1st Louise Smiton, 2nd Mia Buckley, 3rd Carys Graham, 4th Katie Clarke, 5th Jamie Lee Wilson.
2018 Champion of Champions
Adult: Lauren Hanna. Juvenile: Jamie Cupples. Junior: Kathy Hunter. Novice: Louise Smiton.