The waiting game

Armagh are set to appear in their first Ulster Championship final since coming up trumps against Fermanagh back in 2008. Shaun Casey takes a look at the teams who have had to wait a long time to get another shot at Ulster glory.

Antrim: 1951 – 2009 (58 years)

FOLLOWING a golden period at the beginning of the 20th century, when Antrim competed in 13 out of 20 Ulster finals, they’ve played in just seven since, winning two. Antrim brought the Anglo Celt home in 1946 and 1951 but failed to reach a final again until 58 years down the line when Liam ‘Baker’ Bradley guided the Saffrons to the 2009 decider. Tyrone, the reigning All-Ireland champions at the time, won by six points and Antrim’s wait for an 11th Ulster title goes on.

Armagh: 1961 – 1977 (16 years)

LAST Sunday, Armagh ended their 15-year wait to reach an Ulster final, but that wasn’t the longest period in the Orchard County’s history without a provincial final appearance. After losing the 1961 decider to Down, Armagh didn’t reach the final again until 1977. That year, an Armagh team back-boned by All-Stars Joe Kernan, Jimmy Smyth and Paddy Moriarty, overcame Derry to claim the Ulster title. They went all the way to the All-Ireland final but lost heavily to Dublin.

Cavan: 2001 – 2019 (18 years)

IN 2020, Cavan ended a 23-year wait for an Ulster crown, but between times they endured a tough barren spell of not even reaching the final. Tyrone claimed a two-point win over the Breffni Blues in 2001 and Cavan failed to reach another decider until 2019 under Mickey Graham, who was a second-half substitute 18 years previous. Cavan were demolished by Donegal, with two late goals taking the bad look off the scoreboard but they gained their revenge the following season.

Derry: 1921 – 1955 (34 years)

DERRY are hoping to win back-to-back Ulster titles for the second time in their history, having achieved that feat in 1975 and 1976. The Oak Leaf County made their first ever appearance in the Ulster final back in 1921 but lost out to Monaghan in a low-scoring affair, 2-2 to 1-1, and didn’t make it back to the decider until 1955. That also ended in defeat with Cavan claiming the crown that year.

Donegal: 1983 – 1990 (7 years)

SINCE the ‘60s, Donegal have competed in at least one Ulster final in every decade but during the ‘80s they only reached the decider once, and that was in 1983. They beat Cavan by three points on that occasion but didn’t get back to that stage until 1990, just seven years later. They competed in four Ulster finals in a row, winning two, and went on to win their maiden All-Ireland title in 1992.

Down: 1942 – 1958 (16 years)

THE great Down team of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the first team to take Sam Maguire across the border, put Down football on the map and ended a long wait for the county’s first provincial success. After final losses in 1940 and 1942, the Mourne men didn’t reach the showpiece again until 1958, which also ended in defeat to Derry. It was the start of a special run however, as they featured in six Ulster finals in a row, winning the competition in 1959, ’60, ’61 and ’63, and winning the All-Ireland in 1960 and 1961.

Fermanagh: 1945 – 1982 (37 years)

FERMANAGH have never won the Ulster Championship and have only reached the final six times. They were well off the pace in 1945, when provincial powerhouse Cavan proved too strong on the day, picking up their seventh title in a row with a 4-10 to 1-4 victory. The Erne County had to wait 37 years to get another shot at Ulster gold and this time they were much closer, but once again came up short against Armagh, losing by three points.

Monaghan: 1952 – 1979 (29 years)

IN 2013, Monaghan picked up their first Ulster title in 25 years, but during that time they’d made a handful of finals. During the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the Farney men were starved of success on the provincial stage. In 1952, 14 years since their last Ulster win, Monaghan lost out to neighbours Cavan by three points, 1-8 to 0-8, and had to wait 29 years until their next final appearance. That year, 1979, they got their hands on the Anglo Celt Cup for the first time since 1938 and went on to win another two Ulster titles in the next decade.

Tyrone: 1890 – 1941 (51 years)

IN modern times, Tyrone are one of the top dogs in the Ulster Championship and usually feature in the decider at least once every couple of years, and of course, only Cavan have held the Anglo Celt more times than the Red Hands. But following their first ever appearance in the decider, in 1890, Tyrone endured a 51-year wait to get back to the big day. Cavan dashed their dreams that year and Tyrone had to wait until 1956 for another appearance, but this time they didn’t leave empty handed, seeing off the Breffni men with ease.

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