Down GAA

Down GAA
Down GAA
Irish: An Dún
Province: Ulster
Nickname(s): The Mournemen (football)
The Ardsmen (hurling)
County colours: Red & Black
Ground(s): Páirc Esler, Newry
Dominant sport: Gaelic Football
NFL: Division 1
NHL: Division 2a
Football Championship: Sam Maguire Cup
Hurling Championship: Christy Ring Cup
Ladies' Gaelic football: Brendan Martin Cup
Camogie: Kay Mills Cup
Standard kit

The Down County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cummann Luthchleas Gael Coiste An Dún) or Down GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Down. The county board is also responsible for the Down inter-county teams.

For current information on the Down Senior Football team, see 2011 Down GAA Senior Football.



With just one loss in six appearances in All Ireland finals, Down have got a reputation for rising to the big occasion. Kitted out in their distinctive red and black, their massive fan base has been responsible for some of the largest match attendances in GAA history. Although in the last fifteen years they have been going through a very barren patch at senior level, despite various successes at underage level, in 2010 Down showed signs of improving by gaining promotion to the National Football League Division One and reaching the All Ireland Senior Football final - narrowly losing by 1 point to Cork. [1] [2]

Gaelic football

Down and Galway in action in the 1965 National League semi-final
Down (red) in action against Queens University Belfast in the 2009 Dr. McKenna Cup

Down was not regarded as a Gaelic stronghold when Queen's University won the 1958 Sigerson Cup, and some of its leading players turned their thoughts to Down's inter-county dilemma. They took the 1959 Ulster title with six inter-changeable forwards who introduced off-the-ball running and oddities such as track-suits. In 1960 two goals in a three minute period from James McCartan and Paddy Doherty helped beat Kerry, who were almost completely unbeaten at the time, and which brought to an end the Kerry football regime for a few years, and they beat Offaly by a point in 1961 in a tremendous match that featured five first half goals. In that three-year period their loyal supporters smashed every attendance record in the book. When Down played Offaly in 1961 they set a record attendance of 90,556 for a GAA game. Against Dublin in the 1964 National League final a record 70,125 showed up. The 71,573 who watched them play Kerry in 1961 still stands as a record for an All-Ireland semi-final. In 1968 Down beat Kerry with Sean O'Neill and John Murphy goals, again in a two-minute spell. Despite a famous prediction that Down would go on to win three in a row, the county took twenty years to regain its status. In 1991 they surprised favourites Meath, Barry Breen giving them the goal that sent them into a lead of eleven points with 20 minutes to go, too far even for Meath. In 1994 Mickey Linden sent James McCartan in for a goal directly under Hill 16 which silenced Dublin and helped them claim their fifth title. Down teams through the years have played with great emphasis on attack often leading to the neglect of the defence. This system has cost Down teams in the past 10 years or so with the introduction of more negative tactics to quell forward lines with a massive emphasis on blanket defence.

In 2008 Down defeated Tyrone after a replay in the Ulster Senior Football Championship but fell to Armagh in the Ulster SFC Semi Final. Down went on to play Offaly in the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers. After a convincing 5-19 to 2-10 victory over Offaly, Down faced Laois in round 2 of the qualifers. Beating Laois by a single point, and with Dan Gordon being sent off, Down were through to the last round of the qualifiers where they played Wexford at Croke Park. Down had Dan Gordon's suspension removed, but awful conditions and poor Down performance resulted in a defeat to Wexford by a 2-13 to 0-12 scoreline.

In 2010 Down reached the All-Ireland Final after a narrow win over Kildare in the Semi-Finals. They lost to Cork at GAA Headquarters, the first time Down has tasted defeat in the All-Ireland Final. Cork were three points down at half-time but they upped the ante in the second-half and ran out 0-16 to 0-15 winners in the end. Down captain Benny Coulter's effort on 70 minutes and a fisted Daniel Hughes effort a minute into added time left the bare minimum in it and that was the way it stayed as Cork collected their seventh All-Ireland SFC crown in front of 81,604 spectators.


  • McKenna Cups: 11
    • 1944, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1972, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2008
  • All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championships: 1
    • 1979

Notable players

  • Sean O'Neill, Former All Star (1971 & 72) and Down's only representative on the Gaelic Football team of the Millennium
  • Colm McAlarney, Former All Star (1975 & 78) player for Down
  • Kevin Mussen, From the Clonduff Club he was the first Down man to lift the Sam Maguire Cup in 1960
  • Paddy Doherty, All-Ireland winning captain 1961
  • Joe Lennon, All-Ireland winning captain 1968
  • Patsy O'Hagan, All-Ireland Winner (1960 & 1961) and selector for 1968 All-Ireland winning team
  • Patrick Kielty, All-Ireland Winning team 1987 (Down Minor's)
  • Paddy O'Rourke, All-Ireland winning captain 1991 and former Down Senior Football Manager
  • James McCartan, All-Ireland winner in 1991 and 1994, former All Star (1990 & 1994) and managed Queen's University to Sigerson Cup glory in 2007. Present manager of Down Senior team.
  • Greg Blaney, All-Ireland winner in 1991 and 1994, three-time All Star winner.
  • Ross Carr, Two times All Ireland Winner (1991 & 94), a former All Star (1991) player for Down and former Down Senior Football manager
  • DJ Kane, All-Ireland winning captain 1994 and former assistant county manager with Down
  • Ambrose Rogers, from the Longstone Club, Ambrose was Captain in 2010 but was injured for the All Ireland Final
  • Mickey Linden, Winner of 2 All-Ireland medals (1991 & 94) and former All Star (1994). Is regarded as one of Down's best Gaelic Footballers of all time
  • Gregroy Mccartan, All Ireland winner 1994 all star 1994 one of the best midfielders in the country
  • Benny Coulter, star half forward and Ireland international. He won an All-Star award in 2010
  • Dan Gordon, Star midfielder from the Loughinisland Club. He was captain of the Down Senior team in 2007/08. In 2010 Dan played in defence.
  • Martin Clarke, An Riocht Club man, Martin won an All-Ireland Minor medal in 2005 and is a former player for AFL club Collingwood Magpies. He won an All-Star award in 2010
  • Conor Burns, Lodged an application with Down GAA to transfer from Armagh
  • Kevin Mckernan, All Ireland minor championship 2005 ulster under 21 winner 2008 current down player

|down team v leitrim 2011

1 Brendan Mcveigh 2 Aidan Brannagan 3 Dan Gordan 4 Brendan Mcardle 5 Conor Garvey 6 Kevin Mckernan 7 Kevin Duffin 8 Declan Ronney 9 Kalum King 10 Liam Doyle 11 Martin Clarke 12 Brendan Coulter 13 Conor Laverty 14 Paul Mccomiskey 15 Mark Poland


Entrance to sports ground, Saul, County Down

Down played in the Leinster Minor Hurling Championship for three years in the 1970s, even playing Antrim in an unusual Leinster semi-final in Croke Park in 1979. Four Down hurling clubs, Ballycran, Ballygalget, Portaferry and Bredagh play in the Antrim League. The first two used the experience to win Ulster Senior Club Hurling Championships. Ballygalget, Portaferry and Ballycran play in Antrim Div 1 while Bredagh play in Div 3. Although Down had not won the All Ireland B championship in four final appearances, when the Ulster Senior hurling championship was revived Down won titles in 1992, 1995 and 1997, losing the All Ireland semi-finals by 14, 11 and 16 points.


  • All-Ireland Under-21 Hurling Championships: None

Runners up: 2005, 2009

Down GAA Clubs

South Down

South Down hurling team
Irish: An Dún Theas
Nickname(s): Non-Ards
Colours: Red and black
Ground(s): Ballela
Dominant sport: Hurling
NHL: Division 4
Hurling Championship: Lory Meagher Cup
Standard colours

In 2007, the GAA announced that a hurling team from "South Down" (i.e. excluding the Ards peninsula) would compete in parallel to the main Down team,[3] to encourage hurling in an area of growing population where the game has not been strong.[4] While players from all of Down are eligible for the main Down team, Ards players cannot play for South Down. The new team competed in the National Hurling League 2008, recording their first win by beating Cavan at Ballela, scoring 4-15 to Cavan's 0-9. South Down then competed in the Nicky Rackard Cup 2008. It is playing in Division 4 of the 2009 National hurling league.


Down contested the final of the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship in 1948, having beaten Galway 1-5 to 1-1 in the All Ireland semi-final, with K Mallon the captain and P Dooey their best player, and 13-year-old Berna Kelly played in goal.[5] They won the inaugural All Ireland junior championship in 1968 and inaugural minor (under-16) championship in 1974, further All Ireland junior championships in 1976 and 1991 and the intermediate championship of 1994 which resulted in a brief return to the senior championship. They won the All Ireland championship at Under-16 C level in 2011 and reached the 2011 [All-Ireland Junior Camogie Championship#Nancy Murray Cup|Nancy Murray Cup]] final. .[6]

Leitrim Fontenoys won the 2004[7] and 2005[8] All Ireland junior club title.

Notable players include All Star and soaring star award winners[9] Máirín McAleenan, Catherine McGourty and Karen Tinelly. Síghle Nic an Ultaigh and Belle O'Loughlin served as presidents of the Camogie Association).

Under Camogie’s National Development Plan 2010-2015, “Our Game, Our Passion,”[10] five new camogie clubs are to be established in the county by 2015.[11]

Club Championships


  1. ^ Down secure promotion to Division 1
  2. ^ All-Ireland SFC Final: Cork 0-16 0-15 Down
  3. ^ Cummiskey, Gavin (2007-05-17). "Down, Dublin teams to compete in Rackard". The Irish Times: p. Sport, p.24. Retrieved 2009-03-08. "The GAA confirmed yesterday that second teams from Down and Dublin would compete in the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2008 [...] non-Ards (Down) and Fingal (Dublin) sides will be entered "on a basis determined by the Central Competitions Control Committee"." 
  4. ^ Archer, Kenny (2008-05-28). "Hitting the Target - Ulster Council decision not to be taken light(ly)". Irish News: p. 58. "The footballers are 'the Mournemen' while the hurlers are 'the Ardsmen', even though there are many Down footballers from outside the Kingdom of Mourne and a few decent hurlers on 'the mainland'." 
  5. ^ Connacht Tribune Oct 8 1948; Sunday Independent Irish Newspaper archive Oct 24 1948; Irish News Oct 25 1948 See also photo of Down 1948 Camogie team on Portaferry GAA website
  6. ^ [[Mary Moran |Moran, Mary]] (2011). A Game of Our Own: The History of Camogie. Dublin, Ireland: Cumann Camógaíochta. pp. 460. 
  7. ^ 2004 Junior club final Leitrim 4-13 Four Roads 0-8 Four Roads report in Irish Independent
  8. ^ 2005 junior club final Leitrim 1-8 Four Roads 1-4 report in Irish Independent and Irish Times
  9. ^ All-stars on
  10. ^ Irish Independent March 29 2010: Final goal for camogie
  11. ^ National Development Plan 2010-2015, Our Game, Our Passion information page on, pdf download (778k) from download site

External links

Down GAA
Affiliated Clubs
Senior Football Championship

An Riocht - Attical - Ballyholland - Ballymartin - Bryansford - Burren - Castlewellan - Clonduff - Downpatrick - Kilcoo - Liatroim-Fontenoys - Longstone - Loughinisland - Mayobridge - Rostrevor - Saval

Intermediate Football Championship

Annaclone - Ardglass - Bredagh - Carryduff - Clann na Banna - Darragh Cross - Dundrum - Glasdrumman - Glenn - Kilclief - Newry Shamrocks - Saul - St.John Bosco - Teconnaught - Tullylish - Warrenpoint

Junior Football Championship

Aghaderg - Aughlisnafin - Ballykinlar - Bright - Dromara - Drumaness - Drumgath - Killyleagh - Newry Mitchels - St.John's - St.Michael's - St.Paul's

Senior Hurling Championship

Ballycran - Ballygalget - Portaferry

Intermediate Hurling Championship

Ballela - Bredagh - Kilclief - Liatroim-Fontenoys - Newry Shamrocks - Warrenpoint -

Junior Hurling Championship

Clonduff - Carryduff - Castlewellan - Ballyvarley -

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