THE first outdoor competition of the 2008 season was held in Banbridge High School last Saturday with a large entry of 42 pipe bands and 44 drum majors.
Co. Down bands dominated five of the six grades with only grade 4B going to Clontibet from the South of Ireland.
In Grade 1 it was a tie for first place between Field Marshal Montgomery and St.Laurence O'Toole with Field Marshal taking the title on ensemble preference.
The big interest in Grade 1 was between Ballycoan with Pipe Major Glen Cupples, and Cullybackey with his brother Robert Cupples. This is the first time that it is known of two brothers competing in the elite grade 1 against each other. This time Ballycoan took the upper placing but it will be interesting watching in the coming season to see who comes out on top.
In Grade 2 Ravara started off the season well winning 3 first places and best drum corps. Killeen was only 2 points behind to take the runner up place.
In Grade 3A Pipe Major John Griffiths and Cottown Pipe Band were delighted with the band's first ever top placing in Grade 3A.They took 3 first place wins in piping and ensemble.
Both Grade 1, Grade 2 and 3A were judged by John Wilson, Winston Pollock Trevor Dear and Gordon Parkes.
Pipe Major Francis Strain had a great victory in Grade 3B when his band Raffrey won the title gaining four first places. This was the only band on the day to win with a perfect score. Cullenfad took runner up place.
Grade 4A was won by Moneygore with St.Laurence Howth winning best drums and third place. Derryclavin were the runner-ups in this grade.
Clontibet were the victors in Grade 4B with Cleland Memorial winning best drums and runner up place.
It was a great victory for Ryan Ferry, when competing for the first time in the senior grade after gaining promotion last season, he won the top drum major title. Linzi Hamilton put her name on the juvenile trophy with Steven Gilchrist the junior and Rachel Caldwell the novice.
Other adjudicators at Banbridge were Denver Cardwell and Ciaran Mordaunt and the joint Chieftains were Valerie King from Travel Solutions of Belfast and Euan Forbes the Manager at 'The Outlet' at Bridgewater Park Banbridge.
A big debt of gratitude is owed to Mervyn Herron and the Co. Down section for stepping in to organise this event at such short notice when Malahide was cancelled for this year. This competition gave the bands the opportunity to compete outdoors in preparation for the first of the five majors. The first of this year's five major championships will commence with the Scottish
Championships in Dumbarton on Saturday May 24. Many of our bands will travel over to compete at this event.
Last year Drumlough won their grade and gained promotion and Seven Towers won Grade 2 and will be defending their title. The Co. Fermanagh championships will be held on Saturday 31st May at the Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen, with dress for Drum Majors commencing at 12.15pm and the bands commencing at 12.45pm. Admission is free.
The Championships have attracted a large entry of bands and drum majors, including World, European, British, Scottish and All Ireland champions.
The Co. Fermanagh section of the Northern Ireland branch are delighted to announce that for the 2008 championships a Dance Festival will be incorporated into the Annual event.
The Dance Festival is in conjunction with the Ulster Scots Agency and will be held in a Marquee close to the piping competition arena. There will be demonstrations all afternoon of Scottish Country dance, Highland dancing, Irish dancing and Women of the World dancing team as well as an exhibition from the Ulster Scots Agency.
The Chieftain will be Mr Owen McKenna, owner of the Railway Hotel Enniskillen who give loyal support to the Co. Fermanagh section.
Grade 4B - 1st. Clontibret. 2nd. Cleland Memorial (Also drums). 3rd. Upper Crossgare. 4th. Bellaghy.
Grade 4A - lst. Moneygore. 2nd.Derryclavin. 3rd.St.Laurence Howth (Also drums). 4th.Matt Boyd Memorial.
Grade 3B - 1st. Raffrey (also best drums). 2nd. Cullenfad. 3rd. Augharonan. 4th. City of Limerick.
Grade 3A - 1st. Cottown. 2nd. Drumlough. 3rd. Upper Crossgare. 4th. Banbridge (also best drums).
Grade 2 - 1st. Ravara (also best drums). 2nd. Killeen. 3rd. Seven Towers. 4th. Annsborough.
Grade 1 - 1st. Field Marshal Montgomery (also best drums). 2nd. St.Laurence O'Toole. 3rd. Ballycoan. 4th. Cullybackey.
Novice Drum Majors - 1st. Rachel Caldwell. 2nd. Lauren Abraham. 3rd. Lauren McKeown. 4th. Bethan Martin. 5th. Zoe McDowell.
Junior - 1st. Steven Gilchrist. 2nd. Lauren Hanna. 3rd. Dale Fisher. 4th. Lauren Muldrew. 5th. Elizabeth Morrow.
Juvenile - 1st. Linzi Hamilton. 2nd. Samatha Gordon. 3rd. lemma McKinney. 4th. Claire Downey. 5th. Heather Bell.