Field Marshal Montgomery enjoyed the perfect preparation for next weekend’s World Pipe Band Championships with a clean sweep of the prizes in Rostrevor on Saturday.
Kilbroney Park in the Co Down town played host to a tartan invasion as 49 bands and 41 drum majors arrived to compete at the 64th Ulster Pipe Band Championships.
Field Marshal Montgomery won both the March, Strathspey and Reel and Medley sections of the grade one championship to take first place overall and collected prizes for best pipes, drum corps and bass section.
Cullybackey claimed the runners-up spot and the prize for second drums as they finished ahead of the visiting New Zealand Police band and Ravara.
Bleary & District kept their momentum going in grade two where they took the Ulster title and the prizes for best pipes and drum corps. The PSNI took second place on ensemble preference from Manrocunningham in third with Thiepval Memorial in fourth place.
Closkelt have been building up a head of steam in recent weeks and that continued on Saturday as they took first place in grade 3a and won the prize for best pipes. Annsborough were runners-up and lifted the prizes for best drum corps and bass section with Drumlough third and Raffrey edging into fourth place on ensemble preference.
There was a clean sweep of prizes for Upper Crossgare in grade 3b. First place and awards for best pipes, drum corps and bass section all went the way of the Co Down band. Second place went to Colmcille with Matt Boyd Memorial and Achill completing the top four.
Another band on a run of form is Marlacoo & District and they showed no signs of easing up with first place in grade 4a along with prizes for best drum corps and bass section. St Patrick’s Bandon claimed second place and the award for best pipes with Major Sinclair in third and McNeilstown taking fourth place.
There’s simply no stopping Portavogie in grade 4b as they added the Ulster title to an ever growing list to achievements for the 2015 season. First place and prizes for best pipes and drum corps went to the Ards peninsula band ahead of McDonald Memorial, Ballyboley, Gilnahirk and William Kerr Memorial. Best bass section went to Clontibret.
Ulster champion drum majors are Lauren Hanna (Drumlough), Zoe McDowell (Aughintober), Emily Crooks (McNeilstown) and Kathy Hunter (Manorcunningham).
A special award was presented to the New Zealand Police Pipe Band by RSPBANI president Winston Pinkerton to mark the band’s third visit to Northern Ireland.
Grade 1: 1, Field Marshal Montgomery, best Medley, MSR, pipes, drums, bass and M&D; 2, Cullybackey, 2nd drums; 3 on piping preference, New Zealand Police; 4, Ravara.
Grade 2: 1, Bleary & District, best pipes and drums; 2 on ensemble preference, PSNI, best bass and M&D; 3, Manorcunningham; 4, Thiepval Memorial.
Grade 3a: 1, Closkelt, best pipes; 2, Annsborough, best drums and bass; 3, Drumlough; 4 on ensemble preference, Raffrey, best M&D.
Grade 3b: 1, Upper Crossgare, best pipes, drums and bass; 2, Colmcille; 3, Matt Boyd Memorial, best M&D; 4, Achill.
Grade 4a: 1, Marlacoo & District, best drums, bass and M&D; 2, St Patrick’s Bandon, best pipes; 3, Major Sinclair Memorial; 4, McNeilstown.
Grade 4b: 1, Portavogie, best pipes and drums; 2, McDonald Memorial; 3, Ballyboley; 4, Gilnahirk; 5, William Kerr Memorial. Best bass: Clontibret. Best M&D: 1st Scots.
Novice: 1, Kathy Hunter, Manorcunningham; 2, Abigail Wenlock, Cullybackey; 3, Charlotte Ruddock, Battlehill; 4, Zara Cupples, Cullybackey; 5, Leanne Crooks, Syerla & District.
Junior: 1, Emily Crooks, McNeilstown; 2, Beth Preston, Bessbrook Crimson Arrow; 3, Lana Gibson, Major Sinclair; 4, Kathryn McKeown, Battlehill; 5, Jason Nicholl, Tullylagan.
Juvenile: 1, Zoe McDowell, Aughintober; 2, Emma Barr, Field Marshal; 3, Lauren Abraham, Ballybriest; 4, Caitlin Graham, Upper Crossgare; 5, Gemma McDowell, Tullylagan.
Adult: 1, Lauren Hanna, Drumlough; 2, Paula Braiden, Cullybackey; 3, Alicia Dickson, Matt Boyd Memorial; 4, Andrea McKeown, Battlehill; 5, David Brownlee, Derryclavin.