The Antrim clubs with the most senior football titles
St John’s -24 titles
The Johnnies are the out-and-out leaders in the record list of Senior Football Championship wins with 24. The club had won at least one title in every decade from the 1940s through to the 1990s, but that record ended in the new millennium. They haven’t won a title since 1998. They have reached the final three times since then, in 2001, 2012 and 2017. It is a long time to wait for a club like St John’s who are so embedded in the history of club football not only in Antrim but in Ulster. They were the outfit that were involved in setting up the precursor to what would become the Ulster Senior Club Championship. It feels as though the club are not far away from getting back to the winners’ enclosure. They were only two points behind Lamh Dhearg in the 2017 final. The thing is, the club want to be a dual club with success similar to Sleacht Neill, so that is an extra challenge for them.
St Gall’s -19 titles
While St John’s haven’t won an Antrim Championship since the turn of the century, the lion’s share of titles for St Gall’s came after the Millennium. In 2000, St Gall’s had only six titles to their name, and five of those came after 1981. Yet from 2001 onwards, St Gall’s were the powerhouse in Antrim. They won five in-a-row from 2001 to 2005. Cargin ended their run but St Gall’s came back stronger and went on another winning streak from 2007 to 2014. The big year was 2010, when they won the All-Ireland title. The received wisdom outside Antrim is that St Gall’s haven’t won a title since 2014 because they team is older. The reality is that the Antrim Championship has become more competitive since then, and St Gall’s no longer only have to beat Cargin to get over the line, and so many other teams have upped the ante. The club have enjoyed success in hurling, and still remain a threat in the senior championship.
O’Donovan Rossa – 16 titles
Interestingly, the third name on this list is another team who are currently pushing forward with a dual agenda. O’Donovan Rossa won the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship title in 2015. That result was a step towards the club competing at senior level in hurling in Antrim. However, the players are keen to be competitive in both codes. They have taken inspiration from Sleacht Néill and want to play both codes. However it is a great challenge for them. Their Senior Football Championship titles were won between 1920 and 1991. During the 1940s, 1950 and 1970s the club were often able to be competitive in both codes. They won the dual senior titles in 1946, 1955 and 1958. They won the Senior Hurling Championship in 1988 and the Senior Football title in 1989. Their last football title was in 1991. They are a ways off getting back to that level though.
Erin’s Own, Cargin – 10 titles
Cargin are rising up the ranks of Senior Championship wins. They won their first in 1975, another 20 years later. Then a string of three wins in 1999, 2000 and 2006 put them on six – the same as Dunloy incidentally. Then from 2015 to 2020 they rattled in five titles. The win last year was an important one for the club as it completed a three in-a-row of titles for the men in the club. The club had been frustrated that they had not achieved that feat in 2017 so last year put that to bed. Damian Cassidy is in charge again this year and he is a manager who tends to only take up winning causes. If he is staying on then he believes that there is plenty more to win in Cargin. That’s despite the fact that the Bellahgy man said himself that he feels that the level of competition in Antrim is remarkable.
James Stephens -7 titles
According to the records, James Stephens won seven titles from 1914 to 1922. But the club no longer exists so, obviously, are unlikely to win anymore
Cuchullains Dunloy -6 titles
Dunloy are an interesting inclusion on this list. Of the clubs currently in existence, they are fifth in the records of winning titles. But Dunloy are better known as a hurling club, even though they won their first Antrim Senior Hurling Championship in 1990. Their history as a foobtball club stretches back to 1924 when they won the first of their six senior championship titles. Dunloy actually have the potential to become a dual club. Their footballers reached the Intermediate Championship final last year and lost to Moneyglass. Their minor footballers and hurlers won the championship double a few years ago, and many of their best hurlers are also brilliant footballers. So along with St John’s, Rossa, and St Gall’s, four of the top five successful football teams in Antrim are pursuing a dual status.