Niall Gartland looks back at the Ulster JFC winners over the last decade…
2022 – Stewartstown Harps
TYRONE club Stewartstown won the Ulster Junior Championship in hugely dramatic circumstances, overcoming a gallant Drumlane (Cavan) with a penalty shoot-out victory at Clones. It was a remarkable game of football throughout with Stewartstown triumphing in adversity after their star attacker Gareth Devlin limped off with injury shortly before Tiernan Rush was red carded five minutes into the second half. They made it all the way to the All-Ireland final where they lost to a David Clifford-inspired Fossa side, a game also remembered for its late flashpoints that they had a rake of players sent to the line.
2021 – Denn
DENN became only the third Cavan club to win an Ulster Club title when they overcame Donegal team Downings on a scoreline of 3-8 to 0-10 just a week before Christmas in 2021. They made things difficult for themselves, kicking 13 wides and dropping half a dozen efforts short, but other than that it was a fantastic team performance with Mark McSherry, James Brady and Sean Donohoe all finding the net as they claimed the Ulster title in style. Last weekend they played in the Cavan Intermediate final but they lost out to a strong Ballyhaise team.
2019 – Blackhill
MONAGHAN teams have fared extremely well down the years in the Ulster Junior Championship and Blackhill emerged triumphant in 2019 with a five-point win over Buncrana. It was a memorable campaign in every respect for Blackhill as they claimed their second Monaghan title in four years before reaching the provincial summit with a deserved win over Buncrana. A physically powerful Blackhill team overcame a three-point deficit at the break, deploying a sweeper to negate Buncrana’s offensive threats and they never really looked back.
2018 – Red Hughs
DONEGAL side Red Hughs claimed Ulster Juniors honours in 2018 following a nip and tuck battle with Limavady in Celtic Park in November 2018. It was a nervy, tense encounter with plenty of wides but the key moment came late on as sub Johnny Carlin burned the Limavady defence with his pace before firing an unstoppable shot to the top right-hand corner of the net. There were eight minutes of extra-time at the end of the game but Red Hughs dug deep to claim the title.
2017 – Naomh Colmcille
A YEAR before Red Hughs got their hands on the Paul Kerr Cup, another Donegal team did likewise as Naomh Colmcille won out against Fermanagh side Belnaleck in a low-scoring encounter. That said there could be no doubt that Naomh Colmcille were deserving winners as they ran out victors on a scoreline of 1-9 to 0-6. It was an emotionally-charged evening at Celtic Park, Naomh Colmcille honoured the memory of their late club chairman James Dowds by becoming the first Donegal team to win the Ulster Junior Football Championship title.
2016 – Rock St Patrick’s
TYRONE club Rock St Patrick’s have a remarkable history in the Ulster Junior Club Championship and they won their third title in 2016 with a dramatic victory over Blackhill after extra-time. Indeed, they’re the only team to have ever won the title on three separate occasions. As for how it all went down, the Rock were the better team in the second half but Blackhill drew level deep into added time to bring the game into extra-time. The Rock seized the initiative with ace forward Aidan McGarrity scoring the only goal of the game and that ultimately proved decisive. They reached the All-Ireland Club final where they lost out to Kerry side Glenbeigh-Glencar by three points.
2015 – Rockcorry
MONAGHAN side Rockcorry came up trumps back in 2015 with a convincing 3-10 to 0-9 victory over Derry representatives Faughanvale. Rockcorry continued in the tradition of Monaghan clubs faring well in the competition thanks to timely goals from Mark McGuirk, Fergal McGeough and Mark Carroll. The Derry side looked very nervy early on in the contest but they took the game to their opponents in the second half. Rockcorry sucked up most of the pressure and club legend Anthony Tate scored the final score of the game on a day to remember for the Monaghan men.
2014 – Rock St Patrick’s
THE Rock claimed their second Junior title and in quite some style as they recorded a 2-12 to 0-7 victory over Urris. A strong second-half showing from the Tyrone side proved pivotal with goals from Conor McCreesh and Eamon Ward giving the side a healthy cushion on the scoreboard. Urris missed a second-half penalty but this was a fine Rock team that could call upon players like former Tyrone defender Ciaran Gourley so they were fully deserving of their victory.
2013 – Emyvale
ON this occasion a Tyrone side came out on the losing side of the Junior final showdown. A Killeeshil side spearheaded by former Tyrone star Kevin Hughes won their first ever Junior title in Tyrone but fell short on a scoreline of 1-6 to 0-6 in the provincial decider against Monaghan club Emyvale. Corner-forward Daniel McMahon finished up as the game’s top scorer with 1-3 to his name while Ryan McAnespie, now a stalwart of the Monaghan team, was also effective.
**** 2020 Competitioncancelled due to Covid-19