LISBURN based Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band have been crowned world champions for the third time in their illustrious history.
At the 55th World Championships in Glasgow last Saturday, Field Marshal once again won the ultimate prize in pipe banding.
Watched by 45,000 spectators and bands people, and playing on the biggest stage in the pipe band world, they were crowned champions in the top Grade One.
Many said their performance was an amazing display of sheer perfection and the adjudicators certainly were in agreement with that view.
Field Marshal, under the leadership of Pipe Major Richard Parkes and Leading Drummer Andrew Scullion, have reached the pinnacle of their career with this achievement. There is no higher to go. They are without doubt the best pipe band in the world.
Field Marshal Montgomery won the Grade 1 title in 1992 and 1993 and have come very close to regaining it several times since.
But 2002 has certainly been their most successful year since 1993 when they claimed all five of the major championship titles. This year they have won the European and British and just missed out on the Scottish on ensemble preference.
But winning the world title is what dreams are made off and Field Marshal have made that dream a reality.
They have, and rightly deserve, the acclaim and praise of all bandsmen and women, not only in Northern Ireland but also in the world, for they are indeed worthy champions.
Last year's winners, the Simon Fraser University from Canada, were runners up with Shotts & Dykehead in 3rd place and winners of the drumming.
Ravara qualified to play in the final 15 in Grade 1 but did not made the prize list. Nevertheless this was a good achievement for them in their first year back in the top grade.
In was regrettable that McNaughton's Vale of Atholl was disqualified in the qualifying round for being eight minutes late to the starting line. It was the first time the Vale failed to qualify or make the prize list at the Worlds for many years.
But not only did an Ulster band win Grade 1 but Grade 2 and Grade 4A as well.
Congratulations to Pipe Major Alfie Rea and Ballycoan for their supreme victory in Grade 2.
This grade was of a very high standard and bands had to qualify from two sections of 18 on the day. This is Ballycoan's fourth major win this year for they have won the Scottish, European and British Championship titles which secures them certain promotion to the elite Grade 1.
It is interesting to note that no Scottish bands made the prize list in Grade 2.
Killen Pipe band from Co. Tyrone with Pipe Major William Lindsay were overjoyed in winning 4A. This was a great victory for this band and they deserve our congratulations.
Other world championship crowns were won in drumming Grade 2 Upper Crossgare won the title under Leading Drummer Trevor Cherry.
Ballydonaghy Caledonia took the world drumming trophy with Leading Tip Willie Wray in Grade 3B, Mountfield in 4A with Leading Tip I. Anthony and Gransha in Grade 413 under Leading drummer Sammy Smyth.
Other winners at this year's championships were Upper Crossgare (3rd placing) and Bleary & District (4th placing) in Grade 2. Killadeas took 3rd in Grade 3A with Syerla 5th and Tullintrain 6th.
A good result for Ballydonaghy Caledonia in 3B gave them 3rd place with Cottown taking the final 6th placing.
Altnaveigh, Quinn Memorial, Gortaclare and Annsborough were second, third, fourth and fl'th in Grade 4A, and the only Ulster band to secure a place in 4B was Gransha who took 6th place.
Our drum majors also had great success.
Alistair Patterson is this year's senior world champion, Ryan Ferry the junior world champion and Jennifer Elvin from Co. Donegal won the juvenile world championship title.
Our bands and drum majors have once again done us proud and we congratulate every one who brought home winning trophies.
This week's competition is the Heart O'Down Championships in Newcastle Co. Down.
|Ballycoan leaving the Grade 2 Arena in Belfast in June after their winning performance in the European|
IT MAY all have seemed like a `pipe' dream at times but Ballycoan made it a reality at the weekend by reigning supreme in Grade Two of the 55th World Championships.
Pipe Major Alfie Rea's superb team of pipers and drummers faced stiff competition in Glasgow on Saturday, with all bands in Grade 2 having to qualify from two sections of 18 on the day.
However, the 17 pipers, 7 drummers, 7 side drummers, 4 tenor drummers and 1 bass drummer that make up the Ballycoan combo stood up to the challenge and ended up celebrating a very well deserved victory.
This is Ballycoan's fourth major win this year - they went in to the World Championships with the Scottish, European and British titles firmly under their belts.
Their latest triumph meanwhile, has also ensured them a promotion to the elite Grade l, where they will join another Lisburn-based band, new world champions Field Marshal Montgomery.
Winning the title this year was especially sweet, because as Alfie recalled, Ballycoan came achingly close to taking the Grade 2 crown in 2001 only to be disqualified on a technicality.
"That minor hiccup meant that we went in even more determined this year, gave it our best shot and came out on top, so it all worked out well in the end," he said.
Indeed this is a superb achievement for the band who were last in a similar position 26 years ago when in 1976 they achieved top place in Grade 2.
Alfie said he was immensely proud of the band's achievements. "Winning the World Championships marked the end of many years of hard work by everyone associated with Ballycoan, very few bands have brought home as many prestigious titles, it is a huge achievement for us and the Northern Ireland Piping branch," he said.
However, sweet victory does not mean Ballycoan plan to rest on their laurels.
"Being in Grade 1 means we will have to practice even harder, work on development of for instance, a lot of concert pieces, and make sure we put on a tighter set and get it right each and every time we play," said Alfie.
They are looking forward to rising to the challenge of Grade 1 competition but according to Alfie are also badly in need of sponsors.
"Being in Grade 1 means we are going to buy even more
chanters and reeds and new drums, in fact we have to renew a lot
of things, so if anyone would like to sponsor us it would be
To find out how best to go about helping Ballycoan contact Alfie on 9079 5089
|Grade 1||1st Field Marshal Montgomery. 2nd Simon Fraser University (Canada). 3rd Shorts & Dykehead (also best drums and best bass). 4th 78th Fraser Highlanders (Canada). 5th Scottish Power. 6th Strathclyde Police.|
|Grade 2||1st Ballycoan. 2nd Robert Malcolm Memorial (Canada). 3rd Upper Crossgrae ('also best drums). 4th Bleary & District. 5th Windsor Police (Canada). 6th Bagad Cap Caval (France).|
|Grade 3A||1st MacNaughton Vale of Atholl. 2nd Lord Edwards Own. 3rd Killadeas. 4th Royal Burgh of Stirling. 5th Sverla. 6th Tullintrain.|
|Grade 3B||1st lnverkeithing.
2nd Black Raven. 3rd B a I 1 y d o n a g h y Caledonia.
4th West Midlands Police. 5th
Finvoy. 6th Cottown.
|Grade 4A||1st Killen. 2nd Altnaveigh. 3rd Quinn Memorial. 4th Gortaclare. 5th Annsborough. 6th Arbroath RBL.|
|Grade 4B||1st Williamwood. 2nd.Aarhus (Denmark). 3rd Corpus Christi. 4th Duns RBL. 5th Tweedvale. 6th Gransha.|
|Junior Drum Majors||1st Ryan Ferry. 2nd Laura J. Lawson. 3rd Laura McComb. 4th Karl Love. 5th Elizabeth Sloan|
|Juvenile||1st Jennifer Elvin. 2nd Danielle Sharvin. 3rd Teresa McMechan. 4th Ian Scott. 5th Victoria Singer.|
|Senior||1st Alistair Patterson. 2nd Paula Braiden. 3rd Brian Wilson. 4th Ian Young. 5th Campbell Gillies.|