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Tulla Pipers march on the Aviva

ST Patrick’s Tulla Pipe Band hope to make history and set a new trend as they play for the first time at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Friday, performing ahead of the Irish and Slovak Euro 2012 soccer qualifier.
The historic occasion for the East Clare pipe band came following the visit of FAI officials in mid-July last, when the band led the FAI delegation to Tulla Soccer Club for the grand opening of their new AstroTurf facilities. 
“When the FAI officials were down in Clare, they went around the county to various clubs and they came to Tulla to open the new AstroTurf pitch at the soccer club so we were asked to play them over the road to the pitch. They loved what they heard and one thing led to another and there was a communication with John Delaney and the soccer club and he extended the invitation to the pipe band to come to Dublin to an event. We didn’t know at the time what that event was, until about a week later,” band chairman Fintan Leamy recalled.
When Tulla Soccer Club chairman Denis Corry informed the band they could either go up to the Aviva as a guest of the FAI in normal civil clothes or whether we would like to play up there, the band jumped at the opportunity to play.
“We said if we could play that would be great. A week later, we got a call from Denis to say the FAI had extended the invitation to us to play on the field this Friday night for the European match between Ireland and Slovakia. So it was a proud moment for a small band in rural East Clare to be asked to play at an international match, it was unbelievable,” Fintan added.
An added bonus to Fintan was that he, as band chairman, and Oliver Quigney, in his capacity as engagement secretary, were asked up to the Aviva to see what the format was like. They, therefore journeyed up to the recent Ireland and Croatia friendly.
This Friday, the band, made up of 27 members, will march proudly onto the field 15 minutes before kick-off and take their positions. They remain there as the two teams come onto the field and are introduced to the crowd. Then it will be announced that the St Patrick’s Tulla Pipe Band from County Clare will play the two national anthems and once they have performed, they will march off the pitch. 
“What we have to do is quite short but technically it will have to be spot on so it’s going to be great. We are really geared up and looking forward to it,” Fintan added. 
Learning the Slovak anthem took some time, indeed it had to be located first online and then converted to notes for pipe music but luckily it slotted into the pipe chanter scale and since then, the band have put in long hours rehearsing to perfect it.
“It’s quite a nice tune, with a nice beat but it’s probably the first time it has ever been played in pipe music, although I could be wrong about that,” Fintan admits.
He understands from the FAI this is not the only first for a pipe band. It is believed this is the first time a pipe band has ever played at the former Landsdowne Road venue for a soccer international match.
“I asked them that and from their own records, they believe we are the first so it is unique bit of history,” Fintan said.
The band are extremely excited about the performance and Fintan explained there is a “real positive mood and a real vibrancy” in the band since the performance was confirmed. The band accepts this is a truly unique opportunity and is looking forward to doing County Clare and Tulla proud this Friday.

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