Friday 3rd June Kilcluney Volunteers - Markethill
Without doubt this is the biggest band competition of the marching year and one that we always look forward to. This year surpassed anything that we have seen in Markethill in the passed as the dedication and commitment shown by these lads in their travels across the country was rewarded with an astonishing turnout of 96 yes 96 bands at their annual competition.
I have been to many many band parades over the years but I have never witnessed anything quite like it. The main Armagh to Newry road was closed and converted into a car and coach park as an estimated 14,000 people converted on Markethill from near and far.
For a period of hours bands were 'stacked' on all the main roads at the edge of the town waiting to join the main parade as it snaked through the streets lined by thousands of spectators, young and old.
The paraded included bands from 7 Ulster counties and was led by the Eastbank Protestant Boys flute band from Londonderry. I wandered round quite a bit of the route with this band as to be honest I had never seen them before. I was glad I did, they were excellent.
To give you an idea of the scale of this event, Eastbank began parading at around 7.45 pm. The last band, Kilcluney Volunteers themselves finished parading at 12.30am!!!!!
For such a big parade it was pleasing that we had such a large turnout. Again 9 members of our glamour colour party were on show (they paid me to say that) and a full drum corps of 14. Ballymacarrett Defenders Drum Major Craig McAllister led us again, Cutter and Willie John were in their usual place and we had 30 fluters on parade. The band looked and sounded fantastic!
There was a tremendous atmosphere around the route and the band got a tremendous response from the public.
The Melody section was packed with quality bands. Eastbank Prod Boys, Omagh Prod Boys, Fife and Drum Belfast, Pride of Ballinran, Pride of the Raven, Lisburn Young Defenders, Ballycoan and Skeogh were all there along with ourselves.
The independent judges are traditionally hard to spot along the route of this parade but we must have been playing well when we passed them as we lift 6 first prizes, a particularly pleasing achievement with such a high standard and number of bands in attendance at what has become the flute bands showpiece parade and competition. (FULL RESULTS BELOW)
In the blood and thunder section Drumderg Young Loyalists won the fluting and drumming categories while East Belfast Prod Boys claimed top spot in Style and Appearance and M&D.
Among our 6 awards was the Adrian Memorial Trophy for Best overall band, awarded for the last 4 years since the untimely death of the dedicated member of Kilcluney Volunteers after whom the beautiful Silver Cup is named.
This is a Cup that rightfully remains in the Kilcluney Volunteers band hall each year, but it is an award that is very close to the hearts of the MYD having been the very first winners on an emotional night in 2002 just weeks after Adrian's passing.
This year we were honoured to win the award once again for the 3rd time in 4 years, and it was fitting that Adrian's son Stefan, the excellent junior drum major of the Kilcluney Volunteers, should be on stage to present the cup.
So well done boys for another tremendous effort on Friday night. Your hard work and dedication is really paying off.
But I'm sure everyone who took part in or watched Friday nights parade will join with me in saying a big congratulations and well done to all those in Kilcluney Volunteers who organised possibly the best band parade and competition that I've ever been a part of
1 Mourne Young Defenders (MYD)
2 Drumderg Young Loyalists (DYL)
3 Pride of Ballinran (POB)
3 Eastbank Prod Boys
Blood and Thunder Drums
3 East Belfast Prod Boys (EBPB)
Blood and Thunder Flute
3 Pride of Knockmore
Melody Style and Appearance
Blood and Thunder Style and Appearance
3 Pride of the Hill Rathfriland
Senior Drum major
Junior Drum Major
2 Newtownards PB
3 South Belfast YC
Melody M & D
Blood and Thunder M&D
2 Pride of the Hill Rathfriland
Best Bass Drummer
2 Pride of the Hill
Small Blood and Thunder
1 Pride of the Hill Carnmoney
2 Lambeg Or and Blue
3 Pride of the Village
Best Overall Band
1 Mourne Young Defenders
2 Drumderg Young Loyalists
3 Pride of Ballinran