GList: Winning rules

Niall Gartland looks at the stats behind how Ulster teams have fared in championship matches since 2020


Antrim: W8 D1 L8


THE Antrim footballers had a few lean years at the start of the decade, failing to win a single championship match between 2020-2022. However, the introduction of a group stage format in the Tailteann Cup last year has helped bring them on considerably, and they did well to reach last year’s semi-final, winning four games in total before falling short in a semi-final showdown at Croke Park against eventual champions Meath.


Armagh W14 D0 L8


THE last few years have been a rollercoaster ride for Armagh fans. There have been thrills (just last weekend they ran riot against a beleaguered Derry) as well have a few spills – penalty shootouts, anyone – but one thing it hasn’t been is boring. They have won plenty of games – more than any of their Ulster rivals – but the big caveat is the lack of silverware picked up along the way. They’ve lost two Ulster titles in agonising circumstances but they’re still plugging away gamely under their long-standing manager Kieran McGeeney.


Cavan W12 D0 L9


THE Breffni County had a campaign to remember in 2020, winning four games from the preliminary round to capture their first Anglo Celt in 25 years. They won’t forget that one in a hurry, though the pity is that the games were played behind closed doors for, ahem, well-documented reasons. The last few years haven’t been as fruitful though they reached the inaugural final of the Tailteann Cup in 2022, losing out to Westmeath.


Derry W10 D1 L8


AND it was all going so well. Derry had won games all around them in recent years en route to back-to-back Ulster titles and they weren’t far away from reaching last year’s All-Ireland final, giving Kerry an almighty scare in the last four. However, it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong in this year’s campaign, losing all three of their championship matches to date. But, thanks to the protracted format, they haven’t been dumped out of the race for Sam and can still feasibly turn their season around. It’s a big ask though.


Donegal W12 D0 L8


BARRING the annus horribilis that was 2022, Donegal have been hugely competitive since the turn of the decade, playing in three Ulster finals, losing two and winning one. They were on a roll this season, winning all four of their championship outings to date, before falling to a surprise defeat on the road to Cork last weekend. Hypothetically they could still fail to make it out of the group stages, but it would take the shock of the century against Clare in a fortnight’s time for that particular indignity to befall Jim McGuinness’ men.


Down W11 D0 L8


THE knock-out format of 2020 and 2021 wasn’t kind to the Mourne men, bowing out of the race for the Ulster Championship with nothing to show for their efforts. They didn’t fare any better in 2022 either, losing both their matches – one in Ulster, one in the Tailteann – but their fortunes have turned for the better when Conor Laverty came on board as manager. They made it all the way to last year’s Tailteann Cup final, losing to Meath, and they’re tipping along nicely in this year’s competition as well.


Fermanagh W6 D0 L8


FERMANAGH have had 14 championship outings since 2020, losing six games and winning eight. They haven’t had too much to shout about but they’ve had a productive run of games in this year’s Taitleann Cup, winning all three of their group stage games and booking their spot in the quarter-finals. Kieran Donnelly in his third year in charge of the team and they can point to their current form as evidence that it’s all going pretty well for the Brookeborough man.


Monaghan W7 D2 L8


PERHAPS surprisingly, Monaghan have lost more games than they’ve won since the decade started. But sometimes the stats don’t tell the whole story – last year they won four games and lost three of them, nothing too spectacular sounding on paper, but they still managed to carve out a route to the All-Ireland semi-final, where they gave the mighty Dubs their fill of it. 2024 hasn’t been kind thus far but they still have time to turn their season around.


Tyrone W9 D1 L8


Tyrone have been nothing but inconsistent in the last two years, but that certainly wasn’t the case when they claimed a fourth ever All-Ireland SFC in 2021, winning a perfect five out of five games. The world was their oyster but the last couple of years haven’t really gone to plan, it’s fair to say. Despite their fluctuating form, they can still feasibly finish top of the table in this year’s All-Ireland group stages if they get the better of Cork in a fortnight’s time (depending on how Donegal fare against Clare).

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