|Nickname(s):||The Oak Leaf County|
|County colours:||Red, White|
|Ground(s):||Celtic Park, Derry|
|Dominant sport:||Gaelic football|
|Football Championship:||Sam Maguire Cup|
|Hurling Championship:||Christy Ring Cup|
|Ladies' Gaelic football:||Brendan Martin Cup|
|Camogie:||Jack McGrath Cup|
The Derry County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste Chontae Dhoire) or Derry GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland. It is responsible for gaelic games in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland (the GAA refers to the county as Derry). The county board is also responsible for the Derry inter-county teams.
Gaelic football is the most popular of the county board's Gaelic games. The senior football team won an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 1993, and has also won six National League titles and seven Ulster Championships.
Within a year of the GAA's foundation in 1884, GAA clubs were established around the county in Derry, Desertmartin and Magherafelt. However, the administration of Gaelic sports in the county took some time to get properly organised. A Derry county board was established in 1888 and paid affiliation fees to the GAA Central Council. By the following year, although 14 clubs were active, the then GAA President Maurice Davin told the national Congress that the county lacked enough clubs to have its own board. South Derry and North Derry regional boards were established in the 1890s. In the early decades (up to the 1930s), the Derry GAA competitions took in a number of clubs from County Donegal and Tyrone. At various times clubs in South Derry played in the Antrim GAA or Tyrone leagues. The local Catholic Church's opposition to playing games on Sundays hampered growth in the 1890s, but there was something of a revival in the 1900s, especially in hurling. The county also competed sporadically in the Ulster Football Championship from 1904. After the disruption caused by political conflict in the 1910s and early '20s, the county board was re-established briefly in 1926, and definitively in 1929, since when it has remained in existence.
Derry home games are played in the county grounds at Celtic Park. Derry and Owenbeg, Dungiven. Home football games are also sometimes held in Watty Graham Park, Glen or Dean McGlinchey Park, Ballinascreen, which are regarded as secondary stadia. Hurling games are also held at Lavey or Fr McNally Park, Banagher. The current senior football manager is Brian McIver of Balinderry, while Ger Rogan has been appointed Derry senior hurling manager for the incoming season. Both managers also take charge of their respective Under 21 County teams. The Minor football manager is Barry Dillon, while Dee Doherty is in charge of the Minor hurlers.
The GAA in the county is administered by a County Committee (or County Board) with a representative from each GAA club in the County, a Management Committee and a variable number of sub-committees. The county administrative headquarters and centre of excellence are located at Owenbeg, Dungiven.
In 1947 Derry won the National Football League. The group leaders were invited to play in the League semi-finals because heavy snow had disrupted the competition. Francie Niblock scored one of the finest goals in League history in Croke Park as Derry beat Clare. In 1958, the county won its first ever Ulster Senior Football Championship and caused a massive shock in that year's All-Ireland semi-final, beating Kerry thanks to a Sean O'Connell goal three minutes from the end. In the final, Derry scored a goal ten minutes into the second half through Owen Gribben, but Dublin secured victory with Paddy Farnan and Johnny Joyce goals.
In 1965 the Derry Minor team won the All-Ireland Minor Championship, and three years later at Under 21 the bulk of that team captured the All-Ireland Under 21 Championship. Derry won the Ulster Senior Championship three times in the 1970s (1970, 1975 and 1976), but failed to advance past the All-Ireland semi-final stage on each occasion. In 1973 Anthony McGurk became the first player from Derry to be awarded an All Star Award.
The 1980s saw the county win two further All-Ireland Minor Championships (1983 and 1989) and their fifth Ulster Senior Championship (1987).
The 1990s was the county's most successful decade ever. They won the county's second National League title in 1992, before winning the Ulster Championship and the county's first ever All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 1993. Derry won back-to-back National Leagues in 1995 and 1996, and the Under 21s won the 1997 All-Ireland Under 21 Championship. In 1998 Derry won another Ulster Senior Championship. The Derry side of the 1990s has been rated as one of the best of the last 20 years and would have achieved more only a couple of shock defeats such as Down in 1994, Tyrone in 1995 and Cavan in 1997.
Derry won the 2000 National League and the county's Minors won their fourth All-Ireland Minor Championship in 2002. Derry won the 2008 National League; their sixth in all. In recent years they have been overshadowed in the Ulster Senior Championship by the emergence of Tyrone and Donegal, but having topped Division 2 of the NFL in 2013, Derry returns to the Division 1 for the 2014 season.
For more details on this topic including team line-ups, see here
Two Derry players have been awarded the Texaco Footballer of the Year award. Ballymaguigan's Jim McKeever won the inaugural award in 1958, while Henry Downey of the Lavey club received player of the year for his performances in helping Derry win the 1993 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.
Since the 1960s there has been a tradition of annually selecting the best footballer in each position, to create a special team of the year. Between 1963 and 1967 these players received what was known as Cú Chulainn awards. In 1971 these awards were formalised into the annual All Stars Awards. Including Sean O'Connell's Cú Chulainn award in 1967, Derry have received 28 All Stars.
1967: Sean O'Connell[A]
1973: Anthony McGurk
1975: Peter Stevenson, Anthony McGurk, Gerry McElhinney
1984: Dermot McNicholl
1987: Tony Scullion, Brian McGilligan
1992: Tony Scullion, Anthony Tohill, Enda Gormley
1993: Tony Scullion, Johnny McGurk, Henry Downey, Gary Coleman, Anthony Tohill, Brian McGilligan, Enda Gormley
1995: Tony Scullion, Anthony Tohill
1996: Joe Brolly
1997: Joe Brolly
1998: Seán Marty Lockhart
2000: Kieran McKeever, Anthony Tohill
2004: Enda Muldoon
2007: Kevin McCloy, Paddy Bradley
2007: Paddy Bradley
A number of Derry players have been selected to play International rules football for the Ireland team against Australia; both in the test games (1984, 1986, 1987 and 1990) and since the commencement of the International Rules Series in 1998. Note the table is incomplete.
|Sean Martin Lockhart||16||1998 (2), 1999 (2), 2000 (2), 2001 (2), 2003 (2), 2004 (2), 2005 (2), 2006 (2)|
|Anthony Tohill||8||1998 (2), 1999 (2), 2000 (2), 2001 (2)|
|Paddy Bradley||2||2008 (2)|
|Dermot McNicholl||9||1984 (3), 1986 (3), 1987 (3)|
|Brian McGilligan||6||1986 (3) 1987 (3)|
|Tony Scullion||4||1987 (1) 1990 (3)|
|Player||First Senior year||Last Senior year||Position||Club|
|Paddy Bradley||2000||2012||Full forward||Glenullin|
|Joe Brolly||1990||2000||Right corner forward||Dungiven|
|Henry Downey||1988||2001||Centre half back||Lavey|
|Enda Gormley||1985||2000?||Left corner forward||Glen|
|Seán Marty Lockhart||1995||2009||Corner back||Banagher|
|Anthony McGurk||19xx||19xx||Back / forward||Lavey|
|Kieran McKeever||1988||2002||Right corner back||Dungiven|
|Dermot McNicholl||1983||199x||Half forward||Glenullin|
|Mickey Moran||1970||1982||Forward / back||Glen|
|Enda Muldoon||1997||2012||Forward / midfield||Ballinderry|
|Sean O'Connell||1957||197x||Full forward||Ballerin|
|Tony Scullion||1984||1996||Full back||Ballinascreen|
|Danny Quinn||1987||1996||Full back||Bellaghy|
|Damian Cassidy||1983||1996||Left half forward||Bellaghy|
|1947||John L. Fay|
|1986-88||Tom Scullion, Jim McKeever & Phil Stuart|
|1990||Fr Seán Hegarty|
|1999||Eamonn Coleman and Adrian Mc Guckian|
Derry was a hotbed of early hurling activity, with the city's St Patrick's club winning the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship in 1902-03; county teams mainly drawn from the city won the 1906 championship by a walkover, and the contested 1909 final. However, soon afterwards Gaelic football become the dominant sport in the county, and hurling activity declined, especially in the city where soccer clubs were active.
It was the 1970s before Derry claimed any more major hurling honours. The county won two Ulster Junior Championships in 1974 and 1975, as well as the 1975 All-Ireland Junior Championship. The Minors also won the Ulster Minor Championship twice during the decade in 1973/4? and 1979, before going on to win the next four at the start of the 1980s (1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983); giving the county five Ulster Minor titles in a row. Derry also won another Ulster Junior (1984) and All-Ireland Junior Championship (1982), with Rory Stevenson still holding a record of his own, as the youngest person ever to play in a Final in Croke Park, that year (1982), playing for Kevin Lynch's Hurling Club Under 14 All-Ireland Féile na nGael Winning team.
The 1990s started with Derry claiming back-to-back Ulster Minor titles in 1990 and 1991. The Under 21 side won two more Ulster Under 21 Championships in 1993 and 1997. Derry won the All-Ireland 'B' Senior Hurling Championship in 1996 and the Ulster Intermediate Championship the following year.
In 2000 Derry won their first Ulster Senior Hurling Championship in 92 years, and successfully defended it the following year. The county also won the Ulster Minor Championship in 2001. The Seniors won the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2006, defeating Donegal in the final. Derry Under 21s claimed back-to-back Ulster Under 21 titles in 2007 and 2008.
Derry has 40 affiliated clubs; 32 football, 2 hurling and 6 dual. Many, or even most Derry GAA followers taken a keener interest in the club scene than the inter-county scene, which can adversely affect attendances at Derry senior matches. The Derry Senior Football Championship is an annual club competition between the top Derry clubs. It is recognised as one of the hardest club championships to get out of successfully in Ireland, as there are so many teams like, Ballinderry, Bellaghy, An Lúb, Slaughtneil, Dungiven and Newbridge who have a realistic chance of success each year. Attendances at matches are particularly high, with many neutrals from County Tyrone also going to matches, as many view it as the highest standard of club football in Ulster. The winners of the Derry Championship qualify to represent their county in the Ulster Senior Club Football Championship and if they win, go on to the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship.
Derry Camogie operates as a sister body of Derry GAA, but along with Ladies Gaelic football, handball and the GAA county board, the Derry camogie clubs are working towards greater integration among the Gaelic games units in the county.
As early as 1934, there were ten Derry camogie clubs. Derry drew with Antrim in the Maguire Cup in 1954, and built on this progress to beat Antrim in that year's Ulster Senior Camogie Championship final by 5-02 to 2-02 - the county's first Ulster Senior Camogie Championship title. They went on to defeat Mayo and London en route to the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final. However they were beaten by an impressive Dublin side, who had not lost a competitive match since 1947, on a scoreline of 10-04 to 4-02. Theresa Halferty, Carrie Rankin, Patsy McCloskey and Pat O'Brien from this team were chosen on the Ulster team for the inaugural Gael Linn Cup inter-provincial series, but the county's appearance in the 1954 All-Ireland decider did little to further the game in Derry. The county won the Ulster championship and contested the All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship final in 1954. They had previously defeated Antrim in the first round of the 1948 championship, but then surprisingly lost to Down.
Derry reached the final of the All Ireland intermediate championship in 2001, and won the All-Ireland Junior Camogie Championship four times, in 1969, 1978, 2000 and 2007. Derry dominated the new under-16 B championship after its introduction in 2006, winning the finals of 2006, 2007 2008 and 2010 They followed up by winning the Minor B championship in 2010
Derry won further Ulster Senior Camogie Championships in 1989, 1990, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006. The county have also won Ulster Junior Camogie Championships 1960, 1967, 1969, 1978, 1986, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007. The minor camogie side have won the Ulster Minor Championship on nine occasions (1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003).
Notes: The above list of honours may be incomplete. Please add any other honours you know of.
2007: Aisling Diamond
Books published about Gaelic games in County Londonderry include Oakboys: Derry's Football Dream Come True by Eoghan Corry.