Provincial plaudits

The counties who have fared best in the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship.

Armagh clubs (15 titles)
THE Orchard County is level with Derry in terms of Ulster Senior Club titles. One big reason for their success in the provincial arena is Crossmaglen, who have won a record-breaking 11 titles. But that’s not all – there was the famous Clan na Gael team of the seventies, winning three titles in-a-row, and Mullaghbawn, who arguably paved the way for Crossmaglen’s success when they won the title in 1995 with a 1-11 to 2-5 win over Cavan side Bailieborough. Crossmaglen landed their first Seamus McFerran Cup the following season, and the rest, as they say, is history. One of the greatest ever club sides, if not the greatest, they won the All-Ireland title on six occasions and many of their players featured in Armagh’s historic success in 2002.

Derry clubs (15 titles)
THE Derry club scene is notoriously strong, and that’s reflected in their showing in Ulster. Seven different clubs from the county have won Ulster Senior Football titles, which is quite remarkably really. Bellaghy won the inaugural tournament back in 1968, Ballerin followed suit in 1976, and then there was the famous Lavey team of the early nineties (their most well-known footballers backboned Derry’s All-Ireland 1993-winning side). In more recent years, Sleacht Néill have played in and won three Ulster finals, namely in 2014, 2016 and 2017, also coming close at All-Ireland level.

Down clubs (9 titles)
DOWN clubs have a proud record in the Ulster Senior Club Championship. The reigning champions are Kilcoo, who didn’t stop at the provincial stage, winning the Andy Merrigan Cup in dramatic fashion against Kilmacud Crokes. Rewinding the clock, St Mary’s Burren claimed four Ulster titles in a ridiculously fruitful spell during the eighties. They had some cracking players, like John ‘Shorty’ Treanor’, a top management team, and they won two All-Ireland club titles. Looking back further, Bryansford won back-to-back crowns in 1969 and 1970.

Monaghan clubs (6 titles)
THE Farney County has never produced an All-Ireland winning club team at senior level, but that’s not to say they haven’t held their own within the confines of Ulster. They’ve had a bit of a drought in recent decades – favourites Scotstown came up short against a steely Gaoth Dobhair side in 2018, and they also fell short against a stacked Crossmaglen in 2015 – but the very same side had a brilliant winning streak between 1978 and 1980, winning three titles in-a-row. Their success also seemed to spark the county side into life, winning three Ulster titles in a ten-year period. There was also the great Castleblayney Faughs team, embodied by legend Eugene ‘Nudie’ Hughes, coming out on top of Ulster in 1986 and 1991. In their inaugural success, they defeated a brilliant Burren side in a low-scoring affair by 0-4 to 0-3.

Antrim clubs (4 titles)
ST GALL’S, on three occasions, have won the Seamus McFerran trophy on three separate occasions, while another Belfast side, St John’s, claimed the title in 1984. St Gall’s won their first Ulster title all the way back in 1982, and they ended a 23-year gap to win their second with an impressive win over Bellaghy in the 2005 showdown, even though their captain Sean Kelly was unavailable. They repeated the trick in 2009 with an 11-point victory over Loup, reversing their defeat to the Derry side in 2003. They also had a good rivalry with Crossmaglen, albeit they couldn’t get the better of the Armagh men, losing the 2006 final by 1-9 to 1-6. It’d be remiss not to mention St Gall’s most famous day of all, winning the All-Ireland title in 2010.

Donegal clubs (2 titles)
DONEGAL clubs have two titles to show for themselves in this competition. St Joseph’s, which is now defunct, won the title back in 1975 (they were a merger of Aodh Ruadh, based in Ballyshannon, and Réalt na Mara, based in Bundoran). The second Donegal team to come out on top of the pile was Gaoth Dobhair in 2018.

They weren’t expected to do particularly well in the competition, but they had some outstanding players in Eamon McGee, Neil McGee, Odhran Mac Niallais and our own Kevin Cassidy, and they overcame Scotstown by a point in the final.

Tyrone clubs
(2 titles)

WHILE Tyrone have done exceptionally well at intercounty level in recent decades (and have produced winners at Intermediate and Junior level at Ulster club level), they’ve only produced one club that has won an Ulster SFC club title. That club is Errigal Ciaran, who won the title with a young Peter Canavan in their ranks in 1993. They repeated the trick nine years later, and again ‘Peter the Great’ was their main man throughout that campaign, which included a memorable replay victory over Crossmaglen.

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