Biggest football championship upsets of the last 20 years

Shaun Casey takes a look at some of the biggest championship upsets of the last two decades

2023 Connacht SFC quarter-final:

New York 0-15 (2)

Leitrim 0-15 (0)

It’s been a long time coming, but New York finally got their first win in the Connacht Championship with a penalty shootout victory over Leitrim. The sides couldn’t be separated after extra time but goals from the spot by Niall Madine and homegrown hero Mike Brosnan secured a famous win for Johnny McGeeney’s side.

2020 Ulster SFC final:

Cavan 1-13

Donegal 0-12

Cavan had already overturned the odds to reach the final in 2020, coming from behind to beat both Monaghan and Down, but few gave them much of a chance against Declan Bonner’s Donegal, who had been talked up as the biggest threat to Dublin’s throne. Thomas Galligan was heroic around the middle of the field for Mickey Graham’s side and a late goal from Conor Madden saw the Breffni Blues capture the Anglo Celt for the first time since 1997.

2020 Munster SFC semi-final:

Cork 1-12

Kerry 0-13 (AET)

Tipperary winning the Munster Championship in 2020 was certainly an upset, but most would agree that wouldn’t have happened had they been playing Kerry. Cork took the Kingdom to extra time and just when it seemed Kerry had done enough, leading by one point in the final few moments, up stepped substitute Mark Keane to crash home an unlikely winner for the Rebels.

2018 Ulster SFC semi final:

Fermanagh 1-8

Monaghan 0-10

This one came straight out of the Rory Gallagher handbook. Keep it tight at the back, remain in the game for as long as possible, and grab a late score to snatch the win. Eoin Donnelly was the hero who stepped up to punch home the game winning score in the final few minutes to send Fermanagh through to the Ulster final for the first time in ten seasons.

2014 All-Ireland quarter-final:

Donegal 3-14

Dublin 0-17

This maybe shouldn’t have been as big a shock as it turned out to be when the two most recent All-Ireland champions clashed. But Jim Gavin’s Dublin looked unbeatable, while Donegal hadn’t reached the levels of 2012. But two goals from Ryan McHugh, one in each half, another from Colm McFadden and a tactical masterclass from Jim McGuinness sent the 2012 All-Ireland champions through to the showpiece.

2013 Connacht SFC quarter-final:

London 1-12

Sligo 0-14

London won their first ever game in the Connacht championship back in 1977, beating Leitrim, but had to wait until 2013 to taste victory for the second time. A first half Lorcan Mulvey goal helped London into a four-point lead at the half time interval. Sligo fought back in the second period, but London held on for a famous win. London went all the way to the decider, but lost out heavily to Mayo, who won 5-11 to 0-10.

2008 All-Ireland quarter-final:

Wexford 1-14

Armagh 0-12

Armagh had just secured their seventh Ulster title in ten years and while the great team of the noughties was beginning to drift away, it seemed they could have one final push on the All-Ireland stage. But Wexford, and in particular star forward Matty Ford, had other ideas. Forde tormented Francie Bellew on the edge of the square and rattled off a personal tally of 1-5 as the Yellowbellies’ caused an unlikely upset.

2007 Connacht SFC final:

Sligo 1-10

Galway 0-12

It had been 32 years since Sligo toppled the Connacht Championship, but they ended that drought in 2007 with an unlikely win over Galway. An inspirational first half goal from Sligo’s talismanic midfielder Eamon O’Hara, who raced through the heart of the Galway defence and crashed home an incredible goal, was the main difference between the sides in the end as Sligo held on to win by the minimum of margins.

2006 Ulster SFC quarter-final:

Derry 1-8

Tyrone 0-5

Tyrone had just won their second All-Ireland crown in three years in 2005, but that meant little to Derry when the sides faced off in the opening game of the 2006 Ulster Championship in Omagh. Incredibly, the Oak Leaf County held their hosts scoreless in the opening half, leading 0-6 to 0-0 at the break, before an Enda Muldoon goal after the turnaround sealed the deal for Derry in a historic win.

2004 All-Ireland quarter-final:

Fermanagh 0-12

Armagh 0-11

Fermanagh trailed for most of the game, with Armagh bursting out of the traps to lead 0-5 to 0-0 early on but Charlie Mulgrew’s men hung in there to still be in with a chance as the game entered the final few moments. And that chance fell to Tom Brewster who, after a series of Fermanagh wides, fired over the winner late in the game to send the Erne men through to the last four for the first time in their history.

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