|Nickname(s):||The Mournemen (football) |
The Ardsmen (hurling)
|County colours:||Red & Black|
|Ground(s):||Páirc Esler, Newry|
|Dominant sport:||Gaelic football|
|Football Championship:||Sam Maguire Cup|
|Hurling Championship:||Christy Ring Cup|
|Ladies' Gaelic football:||Brendan Martin Cup|
|Camogie:||Kay Mills Cup|
The Down County Board (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste Chontae An Dún) or Down GAA is one of the 32 County Boards of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Ireland, and is responsible for the administration of Gaelic games in County Down.
Down was the first of the occupied six counties in the North and only the second in Ulster after Cavan to win the All-Ireland football championship, in 1960. They won again 1961 and in 1968; the feat was not matched by another team until Down next won the All Ireland in their 1991 victory. Down share with Cavan the Ulster record for most All-Ireland victories at 5.
As such, Down is regarded historically as a strong footballing county, and football is widely regarded as the dominant Gaelic sport within the county.
The Ards peninsula, however, is a hurling stronghold within the county, and while the county hurling team are not among the very strongest on the island, competing in the second tier Christy Ring Cup, the 'Ardsmen' (as opposed to the nickname of the football team, the 'Mourne men') have won a number of Ulster Senior and Minor Hurling Championships despite the historical provincial dominance in that sport of Antrim.
Down hurlers won the Christy Ring Cup for the first time in 2013. This entitled them to enter the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship; however, Down opted to remain in the 2nd on this occasion.
The minutes of the Central Council of the GAA record that on 30 April 1888 an application for affiliation was received from St Patrick's, Mayobridge, Co. Down. The acceptance of the application makes the club the oldest registered GAA Club in the County.
Down was not regarded as a football stronghold when Queen's University won the 1958 Sigerson Cup, and some of its leading players turned their thoughts to Down's county team 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, Senior 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, Junior in for a goal directly under Hill 16 which silenced Dublin and helped them claim their fifth title.
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. Down beat Kilkenny in 1993 in a division 1 match 1-12 to 1-11.
Down hurlers won the Christy Ring Cup for the first time in 2013, their greatest All-Ireland level success to date. This entitled them to enter the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship; however, Down opted to remain in the 2nd on this occasion.
All Irelands (2)
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, to encourage hurling in an area of growing population where the game has not been strong. While players from all of Down were eligible for the main Down team, Ards players could not play for South Down. The new team competed in the 2008 National Hurling League, recording their first win by beating Cavan at Ballela, scoring 4-15 to Cavan's 0-9. South Down then competed in the 2008 Nicky Rackard Cup and in the Lory Meagher Cup until 2011.
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 N Mallon the captain and C Mcgourty their best player, and 13-year-old Berna Kelly played in goal. 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 Nancy Murray Cup final.
Notable players include Marion McGarvey, Bonnie McGreevy, Máirín McAleenan, Catherine McGourty and Karen Tinelly. Síghle Nic an Ultaigh and Belle O'Loughlin served as presidents of the Camogie Association).
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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".
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'.