Shaun Casey takes a look at the last first-time winners across Ulster…
Antrim: St Paul’s (1994)
ST Paul’s won their first-ever Antrim Senior Championship title in 1994 which sparked a golden period in the club’s history. In four seasons, the St Paul’s team picked up three championship titles starting with 1994 and then finishing off with back-to-back wins in 1996 and 1997. In ’94, one point was enough to edge past Cargin while they also saw off the Erin’s Own men in ’96 by the same margin. In ’97 they overcame St Gall’s, but the two clubs would exact their revenge in the coming years. St Paul’s reached the deciders in 1999, 2000 and 2002 but lost out to Cargin and St Gall’s and never got back to the showpiece.
Armagh: Maghery (2016)
A CIARAN Higgins goal early in the second half handed Maghery their first ever Senior title. 2016 was their fifth appearance on the big day, but the Loughshore men had never got over the line before. Cullyhanna held a slender one-point lead at the interval, but the goal from Higgins along with 0-4 from full-forward Aidan Forker created history for Maghery. Shane McConville’s men reached the decider 12 months later but lost to Armagh Harps and had to wait until 2020, under the tutelage of Finnian Moriarty, to get their hands on a second championship medal.
Cavan: Castlerahan (2018)
CASTLERAHAN blasted through the Cavan Championship in 2018 and 2019 to pick up two county medals and disappeared off the scene. Five years after earning their first ever senior crown, Castlerahan were back winning championships this season, although it was at Intermediate level. In 2018 however, they edged past Crosserlough in the decider with the minimum between the sides by the time the final whistle sounded. Oisin O’Connell and Sean Brady claimed the majors in the 2-11 to 1-13 victory and Castlerahan backed it up the following season and a second county title.
Derry: Glen (2021)
IT was always a case of when Glen would climb the summit of Derry club football rather than if. With their influx of talented underage teams over the years, the Watty Graham’s club were destined to win the championship sooner rather than later. And they did it in unbelievable fashion last year when they saw off Sleacht Néill with ease in the decider, 1-13 to 0-7. Man of the match Ciaran McFaul was in unstoppable form and Danny Tallon claimed the all-important goal as Malachy O’Rourke’s men led from start to finish.
Donegal: Glenswilly (2011)
A MICHAEL Murphy-inspired Glenswilly picked up their first ever Donegal title in 2011 as they saw off St Michael’s by two points, 1-8 to 0-9. Twelve months before he guided Donegal to their second Sam Maguire triumph, Murphy dragged his club to the promised land. The Tir Chonaill legend scored 1-7 of their final tally and was deservingly named as the man of the match at the end of the game. It was all square at the halfway stage, 0-4 apiece, but Murphy’s three-pointer was enough for Glenswilly to create history.
Down: Rostrevor (1976)
YOU have to go all the way back until 1976 for the most recent ‘first time’ winner of the Down Championship, when Rostrevor won their first of two. Kilcoo are the reigning kingpins in the Mourne County and have dominated the last decade and before that it was Burren and Mayobridge who were the teams to beat. Rostrevor have reached six finals since winning their first title with a four-point win over Warrenpoint 46 years ago, only winning once more in 1998. They last made the final day in the championship in 2002, but Mayobridge proved too strong and ran out 11-point victors.
Fermanagh: St Patrick’s, Donagh (2008)
ST Patrick’s, Donagh claimed their one and only Fermanagh Senior Championship title in 2008, beating a Derrygonnelly side that would go on to dominate in the Erne County. They had been in five previous finals, dating back to their first appearance in 1976, but had to wait 42 years to finally get their first county medal. The St Pat’s men dominated most of the game and held a strong six-point lead at the start of the second half. Derrygonnelly battled their way back into the game and eventually dwindled the margin down to one but couldn’t find an equaliser and St Patrick’s held on to win with a point to spare.
Monaghan: Magheracloone (2004)
MAGHERACLOONE reached the Monaghan Senior Championship final six times in 15 years, but only have one winners medal to show for their efforts. That came in 2004 when they saw off Scotstown by eight points, 1-10 to 0-5. That was their second appearance in the decider, having lost out to Clontibret by one point in 2002 after a replay. They also made it to the final day of the season in 2005, 2006, 2010 and as recently as 2017 but never got their hands back on the Mick Duffy Cup.
Tyrone: Dromore (2007)
DROMORE lost their grip on the Tyrone title recently as they were defeated by Errigal Ciaran in the championship semi-final. 2021 saw them pick up their fourth title in 14 years, beginning back in 2007. They had reached the decider five times before eventually crossing the final hurdle and winning the competition. In 2007 they easily saw off Coalisland by ten points in the showpiece, 0-14 to 0-4, with Tyrone legends Ryan McMenamin and Collie McCullagh key to their success, before winning further championship titles in 2009, 2011 and finally 2021.