Derry’s minors success and the players that went onto greatness


Derry’s first All-Ireland Minor title came in 1965, when they beat Kerry in the final by 2-8 to 2-4. The Oak Leafers had beaten Cavan in the Ulster final by 3-11 to 2-4.

The 1965 minor team was captained by Tommy Diamond who was partnered by Seamus Lagan at midfield. The defence was made up of Anthony Burke, Tom Quinn, Michael P Kelly, Colum P Mullan, Malachy McAfee and a 16-year-old Adrian McGuckin.

The goalkeeper in 1965 was Eugene McCaul, who made a string of great saves in the final against Kerry.

The forwards in the final were Brendan Mullan, Mickey Niblock, Eamonn Coleman, John Joe Kearney, Seamus McCloskey and Philip Friel.

Chris Brown, who would go on to manage Derry to an All-Ireland title in 2002, had been a key member of the team in the early stages of the campaign, but suffered a cartilage injury that ruled him out.

Twelve players would go on to win Ulster Senior Championship medals.

Tom Quinn, Michael P Kelly, Colum Mullan, Malachy McAfee, Tommy Diamond, Seamus Lagan, Mickey Niblock, Eamonn Coleman, Adrian McGuckin and substitutes Gerry O’Loughlin and Kevin Teague.

McGuckin would go on to win a string of medals with club and county, and also provided crucial coaching to underage players at St Patrick’s, Maghera, many who would go on to win many schools, club and county titles.

Eamonn Coleman will also be remembered for his incredible contribution to Derry as manager in the All-Ireland winning season of 1993.


DERRY won the 1983 All-Ireland Minor title with a 0-8 to 1-3 win over Cork. The team had Ciaran Barton from Newbridge and Moneymore’s Peter Young at midfield.

Future All-Ireland winners Damien Cassidy and Dermot McNicholl were in the half-forward line, and the other forwards included Eddie McElhinney from Craigbane, Glenullin’s Cahal McNicholl, Banagher’s Eamonn Lynch, and Bellaghy’s Tony McKiernan. Don Kelly was goals and the defence included Patrick O’Donnell, Paul Bradley, Raymond Conway, Johnny McGurk from Lavey, Brian Kealey from Dungiven, and Dungiven’s Niall Mullan.

Johnny McGurk started for the seniors in the 1993 All-Ireland final while Kealey was part of the panel.

The team was managed by Eamonn Coleman, indicating just how long the wee man from Ballinascreen had been working on masterminding greatness for his county.


JOHN Joe Kearney was manager of the Derry minors when they won the All-Ireland title in 1989. The team included one player, Eunan O’Kane, who was famously gifted and regarded as one of the brightest and best of his generation. According to Dermot McPeake’s piece, written in 2014 to mark the silver jubilee of the 1985 success, the introduction of O’Kane and his club mate from Dungiven, Ryan Murphy, served to deliver success in the Ulster semi-final. They beat an Armagh team that included Neil Lennon and Kieran McGeeney in the Ulster final.

They would go on to beat Offaly in the All-Ireland final, 3-9 to 1-6.

Gary Coleman captained the 1989 team, and had been inspired to play for Derry when he saw his father manage the 1983 minor team to All-Ireland glory.

Karl Diamond was also on the team, and his father had captained the 1965 team that Eamonn Coleman had played on.

The great Anthony Tohill was part of a midfield partnership along with John Mulholland. 1993 All-Ireland winner Dermot Heaney was also on the 1989 team.

The players from the panel who would also go on to play in the 1983 All-Ireland winning team included Eamonn Burns and Declan Bateson. Dermot Dougan missed out on the 1993 team but would go on to play for the seniors in the late ’90s.


CHRIS Brown, who had missed out on playing in the All-Ireland Minor final in 1965, managed the county to success in 2002. He had managed the team to Ulster glory in 2000, with a team that he felt was good enough to win an All-Ireland title, but were undone by bad fortune.

The 2002 team was captained by Gerard O’Kane, who would go on to win a National League title with his county in 2008.

The goalkeeper was Eoin McNicholl who would go on to play for Derry for a period. The defence was made up of Michael McGoldrick, O’Kane, Joe Keenan, Ciaran McCallion, Mark Lynch and Paul O’Hea.

Lynch was a long-term campaigner for Derry and retired a couple of years ago. He won a Division One league title in 2008. O’Hea also played for the seniors. The midfield pairing was Paul Bradley and Ruairi Convery. The latter was part of the panel in 2000, and would go on to be a long-term servant to the county’s hurlers. Convery scored a brilliant goal in that decider.

The forward line included Barry McGoldrick who was also on the 2008 National League winners. The attack also had Cathal O’Kane, Conleith Moran, James Bateson, Paul Young and Ciaran Mullan.

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