GList: Provincial chieftains

Niall Gartland takes a look at the managers who have steered their teams to three or more Ulster SFC titles since 1970:

Mickey Harte

(six occasions)

OUT on his own is Mickey Harte with six Ulster SFC titles to his name. A few have been won relatively handily – 2009, 2010 and 2017 spring to mind – but who can forget Tyrone’s Ulster Championship drawn encounter against Down in 2003 (the replay a bit of a cake-walk, granted) while 2016 was particularly memorable for Tyrone fans, who must surely have grown sick of the sight of Donegal at that stage. He won’t be adding to his collection this year anyway with Derry bowing out for the race for Ulster a fortnight ago but winning six Ulster titles, it speaks for itself really.

Brian McEniff

(five titles)

DO you know how many stints Brian McEniff oversaw at Donegal? Five, and he just so happened to manage them to the same number of Ulster titles. He led them to their first ever Ulster title in 1972, followed by their second in 1974. The crowning achievement of his various tenures was in 1992 when they marched to All-Ireland glory for the first time ever with a superb victory over a heavily fancied Dublin in the Croke Park showdown.

Art McRory

(five titles)

HOW great thou Art. While All-Ireland glory proved elusive, Art McRory helped lay the foundations for Tyrone’s rise as a footballing force and he enjoyed great success with the county in the mid-eighties and nineties across two separate stints. The 1984 decider has gone down as the Frank McGuigan final – he scored 11 from play – and they won further titles under his tutelage in 1986, 1995, 1996 and 2001.

Joe Kernan

(four titles)

FOUR Ulster titles in four years is some going and that’s exactly what Armagh achieved under the legendary Joe Kernan during the most successful period in the county’s history. They overcame Donegal in the Ulster final in 2002 en route to landing the All-Ireland, and then they became the first team since the Down side of the sixties to win three Ulster titles on the trot. It was a memorable period for Ulster football as a whole and their 2005 and 2006 finals were held in Croke Park due to spectator demand.

Eugene McKenna

(three titles)

ONE of the best midfielders Tyrone has ever produced, McKenna won two three Ulster titles as player before later hooking up with Art McRory on the sidelines. The mid-nineties were a hugely successful period from a Tyrone perspective and he was also at the coalface of their narrow victory over Cavan in the 2001 showdown, the day when injured captain Sean Teague held aloft the famous old trophy with one arm having damaged his shoulder during the game.

Jim McGuinness

(three titles)

HE might have some way to go to match Mickey Harte in terms of overall titles won, but in terms of title-winning efficiency, you can’t do much better than Jim McGuinness. He won three Ulster titles in four years during his first stint in charge (he only lost one game in that time-span in the provincial bearpit) and it would take a brave man to bet against him adding another to the collection when Donegal take on Armagh in a week’s time (across his five years in charge, to date he’s only lost a single Ulster Championship match, which is some going),

Seán McCague

(three titles)

THIS list is littered with trail-blazers and Seán McCague’s name sits comfortably in their presence. The Scotstown man, who passed away in 2022, managed his county to their first Ulster title in 41 years, back in 1979. He led the team to subsequent titles as well as the National League County. He continued to make his mark after leaving the managerial game, serving as the 33rd President of the Association in 2000-03, the first Monaghan man to hold the distinguished position.

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