History of Down Through the Years 1880's - 1970's
Cusack was born and reared in Co. Clare, in a part of
Ireland with a strong tradition of hurling and steeped in
an ancient Gaelic tradition. His interests were in education
and athletics. County Down had many direct links with this
man, born in the middle of the last century, whose name
is honoured today wherever Gaelic games are played. He taught
in St. Colman's College, Newry 1871-1876. On 14th June,
1876, in St. Colman's Church, Dromore, he married a Miss
Margaret Woods from that town
St. Patrick's Mayobridge
became the first club from County Down to be affiliated
by the Central Council of the Gaelic Athletic Association.In
January 1889 arrangements were set in motion for the historic
Silver Crosses Tournament, the first official competition
in Down and described in local papers as the first of its
kind in the North of Ireland. The tournament was won by
Warrenpoint John Martins.the first of its kind in the North
continued hostility of the local clergy was having its effect
and at the beginning of the new decade there was a virtual
collapse of activity in South Down, with the exception of
the town of Newry. On the other hand, in the East of the
County, Gaelic football grew in popularity. Leitrim continued
as a well organised club. There were obviously other teams
playing there for the "Down Recorder" makes reference
to a football game in Saul.
The Gaelic League came
early to Down and branches were established in the County
within a couple of years of its foundation. These combined
language classes with history lectures, organised ceilis
and concerts and spread a new awareness of the wealth and
vitality of our traditional culture. Many of the Catholic
clergy - and indeed some Protestant clergy - were prominently
involved with these branches, as were local teachers. Aeridheachia
were promoted, with feasts of Irish music and dancing, patriotic
songs and recitations and usually a stirring oration by
a well-known public figure. It was a natural progression
that soon the programmes would include the distinctively
Irish field game of hurling. In the 1880's and 1890's the
G.A.A. in Down usually meant football teams only, but when
the revival came it was hurling clubs that initially sprang
up. It was to hurling that the young men turned as though
they wanted to express their Irishness through this most
distinctive national game.
In January 1893, Edeninore
Sarsfields played Ballyholland Rovers and in May when Mayobridge
Emeralds (2nd Team) beat John Mitchels, Drumgath, in a very
rough game there was a comment that "The Emeralds (both
teams) have won every match so far this year". Mayobridge
played a friendly with Castlewellan in the Spring and C.B.S.
reported Gaelic meetings, presumably matches, in 1893, on
9th July at Grinan and 16th July at Dromalane, Newry, but
without doubt the empty playing fields that a few short
years before had been the mecca for enthusiastic crowds
on Sunday afternoons, bore silent witness to the decline
of interest in the games.
In the following years
the G.A.A. suffered an almost total collapse in Down. Several
factors would have contributed to this. Initially there
was the Catholic clergy's opposition to Sunday games, although
there are no reports of condemnation anywhere except in
Newry. That may well have been because only the Newry clergy's
views were noted. Then came the Pamell Split, when Clubs
broke up as a result of bitter differences of divided allegiance
and, finally, the drain of emigration, which in the Nineties
took many young men across the Atlantic to seek opportunities
that were denied them at home. In some counties rough and
dangerous play was blamed for the falling away of Gaelic
games, but that did not seem to be a serious problem in
year 1903 marks a significant milestone in this history;
that year saw a new beginning, the organisation of an affiliated
Down County Board as we know it today.
Gaelic football teams were
being organised again and the year began with arrangements
by the Newry Gaelic League for a Hurling and Football Tournament
on St. Patrick's Day. There were then at least three local
clubs there, all probably playing both hurling and football.
The feast of the National Apostle was celebrated in Castlewellan
with demonstrations in a field off the Newcastle
Road and included Gaelic football and hurling clubs from
Backaderry, Drumaroad and Castlewellan.
Art MeGann, a civil servant
in Belfast and later "Fear Cidin" of the "Sunday
Press ", was prominently identified with Gaelic League
activities in East Down and when he turned his attention
to encouraging the locals to organise hurling clubs they
responded enthusiastically. Within a couple of weeks of
his bringing two Belfast teams - Sean an Dhiomas and Brian
Og - to Seahornan, Ardglass, for an exhibition game there
were no less than four hurling clubs established in the
Easter Sunday, 12th April
saw a great Gaelic hosting for an Aeridheacht and another
exhibition match, this time between Brian Og and Hearts
of Down, Kilelief.
Although only five weeks
in existence, the County Down side put up a spirited performance
against their experienced opponents, described as "one
of the foremost Ulster teams". Despite being handicapped
by their inability to rise the ball, they managed to score
3-1 to the Belfastmen's 4-7.
The first meeting
of the newly formed County Committee was held in Drumroe
Hall, Kilelief, on 26th April, with James Denvir, Ballynarry,
Kilelief, in the Chair. Also present were: J. Fitzsimmons
(Treasurer), John Fitzpatrick :Secretary), D. MePolin (Cuan),
T. McConville (Red Hand), J. Buckley :Hearts of Down),
J. Denvir, J. Croskerry (Downpatrick), P. Rice and Chas.
WcCorry (Newry Faugh-a-Ballaghs).
The first round Championship
draws were made as follows:
3rd May - Cuan, Portaferry
v. Hearts of Down, Killard.
10th May - Burren, Castiewellan v. Red Hands, Kilelief.
17th May - Leitrim, v. Clanyaraghan.
Faugh-a-Ballaghs, Newry v. Downpatrick.
Another first in the historic
year was Down's participation in the Ulster Hurling Championship
(1902) Semi-final against Antrim at Armagh on 20th September.
Newry Faughs as County Champions represented the County
and that first Down team was:
Goal: A. Lennon; Half Backs:
Rogan and Devine; Pointsmen: McCann, Collins and McCaul;
Full Backs: J. O'Callaghan, B. O'Callaghan and J. Bolger;
Fieldsmen: M. McCorry, Brady and Gartlan; Forwards: J. Lavery
(Captain), E. MeGurk, P. Lavery, B. Mooney and P. Carragher.
The match was a draw at
0.6 each. Disappointingly, Down were beaten 0-21 - 0-7 in
the replay at Belfast.
Interest in Football was growing
again in Down, but very slowly. Draws may have been made
for a Football Championship in 1904 but no games were actually
played and it was not until 8th January, 1905, that the
1904 Final was played, Down's first County recorded Football
"For the first time
in many months the enlivening thud of the football was heard
in a Gaelic Athletic match on Sunday last. The match took
place at the Marshes Ground Newry, between Newry Faugh-a-Ballaghs
and Clann-na-Banna, Banbridge, and, in spite of unpleasant
weather, there was a large crowd of spectators. The honour
at stake was the Final of the County Down Championship;
curiously enough, it was not only the Final, but the first,
or Semi-Final, as well because Banbridge and Newry are the
only teams that had entered for the Championship. Newry
won the toss and played with a rather stiff breeze. From
the beginning they proved themselves too smart for the visitors,
P. Lavery, White, Rogan and Fanning making some splendid
attacks, offensive and defensive. Half Time Score: Newry
0-2. - Banbridge Nil. In the second half Banbridge, with
breeze advantage, combined better and took control of the
game with Mulhall, Diamond, Donnelly, McCavitt and the two
Downeys playing a prominent part".
So to Clann-na-Banna went
the honour of being Down's first recorded County Football
Champions with the score: Banbridge 1-2 - Newry 0-4.
The Frank O'Hare Cup
In 1906 Annsborough opened
thir new ground with a friendly game against Newry Mitchels,
the first recorded official opening of a Gaelic ground in
Down got their first County
Trophy when Mr Frank O'Hare of Mayobridge presented a valuable
silver cup for the Senior Football Championship; a cup which
is still the trophy for the competition.
The County Football Championship
Final, the first at a netral venue, was played at Mayobridge.
The incentive of possession of the beautiful new trophy
by the winners added interest to both players and spectators
alike. The first winners of the trophy were Newry Faughs
who defeated Leitrim Fontenoys by 0.07 to 0.04.
year drew to a close Michael Cusack died in Dublin on 28th
November, and when the huge cortege of Gaels followed the
remains to Glasnevin cemetery every county in Ireland was
represented among the mourners. There was an official party
from the Newry Faugh-a-Ballaghs to pay Down's last tribute
to the man who had once taught in their County.
May 1907 Down registered their first win in the Ulster Senior
Championship when they defeated Armagh by1.05 to 0.04.
The Down team was:
J McGawley (Newry Mitchels)
Full-Backs: P Hughes (Newry Faughs), J Rice (Newry
Faughs), J McGrady (Liatroim)
Three-Quarters: F McKinney (Liatroim), P Lavery (Newry
Faughs), E Curtis (Newry Faughs)
Halves: M Mallon (Mayobridge), J Downey (Mayobridge),
P McShane (Newry Faughs), P Rice (Newry Faughs)
Forwards: J Lavery (Newry Faughs), W Dunne (Newry
Faughs), J Devine (Newry Faughs), J Kennedy (Newry Faughs),
P Lennon (Newry Faughs), J F Flanagan (Liatroim)
first time. in 1908, a Down delegate's name was recorded
in the attendance at the GAA Annual Congress - D.S. Collins,
Newry And on 10th October 1909, on the historic occasion
of Central Council's first meeting in Ulster - in Belfast-
Charles Magee, Bellaney, represented Down.
decade 1910-19 was a troubled one for the GAA in County
Down. All the bright promise of the opening years of the
century seemed to have passed. It was again a time of recession
and then as before, and as would happen again over the years,
young men took to the boats across the Irish Sea or in many
cases to the beckoning New world where many had relations
established from an earlier era of emigration. That this
drain of the youth should take its toll on the membership
of the Gaelic clubs was inevitable. It was also a time when
there was great unrest in the North.
Paddy Downey returned from Belfast to play again for his
native Mayobridge. Whilst working in Belfast, Paddy had
won an Ulster Championship medal with Antrim; his claim
to have been the first Down man to achieve this honour has
not been challenged.
By the year 1912 all the
bright promise of the opening years of the century seemed
to have passed. There were still a couple of clubs in Newry
but they had nowhere else to go for competition. The disappointing
pattern of the previous years continued when Down were defeated
by Antrim in both the Football and the Hurling Championships.
the War of Independence was at its height. The Black and
Tans and the Auxiliaries were terrorizing the country and
any prominent GAA man was liable to be a suspect. There
were shootings and repnsals and more shootings and more
reprisals, but, surprisingly, County and Divisional Boards
met regularly and competitions continued.
Castlewellan Hearts of Down, Newcastle Rangers, Cabra Harps,
Leitrim Fontenoys and Moneyscalp Emmets played in the Mid-Down
League while Clann-na-Gael Corrags, St. Colman's Shinn,
John Martin's Warrenpoint, Young Irelands Newry, St. Patrick's
Mayobridge and Faugh-a-Bealach Newry were taking part in
the Boyd and Connolly Cup Competitions. The Final of the
1919 Football Championship was fixed for Newcastle on Easter
Sunday 1920 and pre-viewing the game the "Frontier
"This will be a memorable Easter
Sunday in the history of the GAA in Down. It will emphasise
in an unmistakable manner the considerable strides made
during the last twelve months by the Gaelic Footballers
of the County and it will prove that people of County Down
are enthusiastically in sympathy with the organisation that
has for its object the maintenance and popularisation
of our national pastimes. The past year has witnessed a
great awakening in Ulster and in no other part has it been
more remarkable than in Down. Previous efforts were sporadic
and led to disappointment among the most hopeful, but at
last as one man, the Gaels of the County put their shoulder
to the wheel with the result that the machinery of Gaeldom,
if not perfect, is well nigh so".
The County Final Day provided some excitement even before
the teams took the field, for the County Chairman,
John H. King of Newcastle had just made a final check on
the field arrangements when he was arrested to join his
G.A.A. colleagues, the President and Secretary of the Ulster
Council who were already detained in Crumlin Road Gaol.
Although no 1920 Senior Football Championship games appear
to have been played, overall it was a good year for the
County. The footballers registered Down's first Ulster Championship
win in 12 years and new Leagues were inaugurated which attracted
established and re-established clubs and a gratifying number
of new ones.
In the meantime in London an event was taking place which
would have a significant social and political impact on
the lives of the Irish people for generations to come.
The Government of Ireland Act, passed in 1920, had set up
the Government of Northern Ireland, but it was the signing
of the Anglo-Irish Treaty ir December 1921, providing
for an "Irish Free State" for Twenty-Six Counties
, which finalised the cutting-off of the Six North-Eastern
Counties from the rest of Ireland, After the implementation
of that Treaty the G.A.A. perhaps more than any other,
would be the organisation which would enable a substantiaI
number of the Nationalist community in those Six Counties
to retain their identity and feel that, whatever the political
divisions of the island, within its ranks they remained
an integral part of a Thirty-two County Ireland.
Despite the promise of revival there are no records of any
matches in the opening months of 1923. Reporting was still
difficult for the "Frontier Sentinel" and Senator
P J. O'Hare has related that there were occasions when he
came back to the office to find that there had been a forcible
entry by the R.U.C. and Special Constabulary and the
place was in a state of disorder as a result of an "official"
search - not exactly ideal conditions in which to go to
Prominent G.A.A. man, Newcastle Solicitor John H. King,
long time respected County Chairman, was arrested in February
at his home in Newcastle to which he had recently returned.
The unsettled situation continued and curfew was introduced
so that everyone had to be off the streets by eleven o'clock
at night. In some areas there were riots, followed on occasions
by vicious religious pogroms. Jobs were scarce and badly
paid and it is not surprising that emigration figures rose
considerably; this time there was preference for the
United States of America; from correspondence columns in
local newspapers in the late Twenties it is clear that many
who left were enthusiastic members of their local Gaelic
Club and that they still retained their interest in
the activities of the Club when they were thousands of miles
from their native heath.
In September 1925 Down and Antrim played an exhibition game
and in the same month the Warrenpoint and Mourne District
League met in Burren under the Chairmanship of Father Jas.
Murney and decide to offer the Shanahan Cup again for competition.
This league included Rathfriland, Hilltown, Cabra, Burren
and Rostrevor. The County Board now met regularly. Football
leagues were operating in three divisions. Hurling was being
played on a competition basis in East Down and in Newry
a new hurling club was formed.
Things were again looking up for the GAA in Down.
By the end of 1925, the County Board was established on
a firm footing; regular meetings were held; the County Bye-Laws
were printed and sent to the Divisional Committees
for distribution to the Clubs. A positive framework of
administration had emerged and this was now set in an an
atmosphere of nomality. The Boundary Commission, with its
hopes of re-drawn boundaries had been abandoned and
people had come to terms with coping with a new political
situation. The G.A.A. became more important; it was taking
a stand; it was keeping in touch; it was being a part
of a 32-County Ireland under one flag, the flag of
Cumann Luthchleas Gael.
In the mid-Twenties only the super-optimist would have had
much hope of an Ulster County taking an All-Ireland title
Only twice in the first forty years of the Gaelic Athletic
Association had a team from Ulster reached a Final and that
was as far back as 1911/1912, so when Armagh won the 1926
All- Ireland Junior Football Championship their victory
brought a new enthusiasm to the other counties in
the Province, with the realisation that ulimate Championship
success was achievable.
was an historic year for Down; that was the year they took
their first lJlster Championship title - in Minor Hurling.
It was the year of the inaugurauon of the Minor Championships
in the Province which rnade it doubly memorable. Five Counties
entered the Competition, Armagh, Antrim, Down,
Cavan and Monaghan. Down got a bye into the second round
and met Antrim who had defeated Armagh. The game was in
the Abbey Grounds, Newry on Saturday, 28th June. This
was home ground, indeed, for the Down team for the County
was represented by the Abbey C.B.S., a school that was then
known far and wide as a great hurling stronghold. Playing
on their own school ground and in their own school jerseys,
the Down Minors beat the pick of County Antrim in convincing
fashion with the score 5-5 to their opponents 4-1.
Their Ulster Championship Final game against Monaghan at
Corrigan Park Belfast on 6th July was a disappointment as
a contest, for Monaghan were no match for the Newry lads
who played sparkling hurling from first to last and finished
on the score: Down 9-7 Monaghan 0-6.
It was a great victory
for Down, for Newry and the Abbey C.B.S. The team that put
Down into the history books with that win were:
Paddy Curran, Luke Curran, Brendan
Murray, Bill Corish, Frank McAteer, Paddy Golding, Paddy
O'Hare, Eddie O'Hare, Tony Carroll, Harry O'Rorke, Gerry
Murphy, Phil Gunn, Eugene Fox (Captain), John Corish and
The lads from that one school in County Down went on to
meet the pick of mighty Kilkenny in Croke Park on 24th September;
they sttuggled gamely to the very end, but they were no
match for the skilled caman-wielders from the Nore-side
and were beaten 13-7 to 2-0.
In 1931 the Junior County
Footballers wrote a bright new page into the history books
when they took Down's first Ulster Football Championship.
They opened their campaign with a drawn game against Antrim
in Corrigan Park, but made no mistake in the replay in Kilkeel
when they ran out victors 2-2 to 0-4. The Semi-Final was
against Tyrone at Derrymacash on 6th June which they won
by 2.02 to1.04. In the final they defeated Cavan 1.03
to 0.05. In the All-Ireland semi-final they lost to
Kildare 3.06 to 1.03.
The Golden Jubilee of the
Association in 1934 will be recalled in Down as the year
in which the County Footballers first played in Croke Park.
The Junior footllers had won the Ulster Title and played
Louth on 23rd September in Croke Park as the curtain-raiser
to the Dublin/Galway All-Ireland Senior Final. But the outcome
was similar to 1931 with Louth winning on a scoreline 4.11
The last major achievement
of the decade was the acquisition of the first County Grounds,
at Newcastle, and named St.Patrick's Park by the Gaelic
minded Bishop of Down and Connor, Most Rev. Dr. Mageean.
was to prove a momentous year for the Senior footballers
- the first time ever for the County to reach an Ulster
On 30th June in the the
frst round they defeated Tyrone in Newcastle: Down 4.04
Monaghan at Castleblayney
provided the next opposition with the result reading:
Down 0.08 Monaghan 1.03
DOWN SENIOR FOOTBALL
Back Row: T Hannity,
M.King, J.O'Hare, J.McLaughlin, J.Carr, D.Morgan, D.Doran,
Front Row: J.Kane, J.McClorey, G.Carr, T.McCormack,
T.McCann, M.Lynch, C.McConville
A tremendously enthusiastic
Down following packed the special trains and any other available
transport to Breffni Park for the final against Cavan
A crowd of 4000 saw a thrilling
sruggle between a fast Down team and a very experienced
Cavan side, with the game in the balance for three-quarters
of the contest.
The final score read: Cavan
4.07 Down 1.05
Although unsuccessful at
the last hurdle in the Ulster Championship the County footballers
confirmed that they were a force to be reckoned with by
their superb performance in the National League Competition.
They came through their section for the Lagan Cup without
dropping a single point. Along the way they defeated:
Tyrone 3-0 to 1-5 at
Coalisland on 13th October.
Fermanagh 5-9 to 1-5
at Newcastle on 27th October.
Antrim 1-5 to 1-4 at
Corrigan Park on 24th November.
Derry 4-7 to 2-5 at Newcastle
on 8th December.
By winning their section
they qualified to meet Mayo in the Semi-final of the National
League but they would have to wait for three months before
fulfilling that important engagement. This game was played
at Newcastle with Mayo winning 0.11 to 1.04.
On the hurling front 1941
was an historic year when the Senior Hurling team won their
first Ulster title defeating Antrim 5.03 - 2.05 in
The Lagan Cup which Down
won in 1940 was the trophy for a Senior Football League
limited to five Ulster Counties. The McKenna Cup,
on the other hand, was open to all Ulster Counties, played
on a knock-out basis and was second only in prestige to
the Ulster Senior Championship. When Down captured the trophy
in 1944, it was their first real break-through on the Ulster
Senior football scene and it is a source of great pride
for older people to recall that they were there on that
1946 was a history making
year when Down won their first All-Ireland title Only
twice, since the inauguration of the Junior Football Championship
in 1912 had the title come to Ulster, in Armagh in 1926
and Cavan in 1927.
The All-Ireland Final was
a curtain-riser to the replay of the senior All-Ireland
replay between Kerry and Roscommon and it also made broadcasting
history in that Radio Eireann broadcast the second half
The final score in the game
was Down 2.10 Warwickshire 1.09
In 1947 Down hosted theUlster
Convention in Newry and John O'Hare of Castlwellan had the
distinction of being the first Down man to play on an Ulster
railway Cup winning team. He was not the first Down man
to win a Railway Cup medal; that honour had already been
achieved by his fellow townsman, Tony mcCann. who won a
medal when hewas a substituteon the successful 1943 team.
1948 was a momentous year
for the Down Camogie team. They took their first Ulster
Championship Title and then beat a very experienced Galway
team in yje All-Ireland semi-final. In the final at Croke
Park they were defeated by Dublin.
In 1949 the Junior Footballers
reached another All-Ireland Final but there was to be disappoinment
when they fell to Kerry on a scoreline Kerry 3.11 Down
Fifties was the decade of the planners and the first
step was taken when the 1950 Convention in Warrenpoint passed
a motion to set up a Football Selection Committee of not
less than five and not more than seven.
There was a notable first
for the County when father Jos.Petit was elected President
of the Ulster Council, the first Downman to be so honoured.
The early to mid-fifties
showed the County teams having fluctuating fortunes but
no trophies. Down set a new record in 1958 when they contested
every Ulster Final in the Gaelic code, five in all, Senior,
Junior and Monor Football and Junior and Minor Hurling.
Success was achieved in Junior Football and Minor Football
but an historic treble bid was thwarted by Derry in the
Senior Final. But the seeds had been sown. Maurice Hayes
to explain to people: 'Look, we're working to a timetable
of four or five years ahead. Now, what is going to happen
is this; the first year we get to the Ulster Final and get
beaten; the next year we will win the Ulster Final and get
beaten in the All-Ireland Semi-Final; the next year we will
win the All-Ireland Semi-Final and get beaten in the Final
. . .and so on . . ."
1959 was memorable in footballing
terms for Down's win in the Wembley tournament.
The picture on the right
shows Sean Purcell and Kevin Mussen leading Galway and Down
out in Wembley Stadium 1959.
A crowd of 32000 saw a
tremendous game which ended Down 3.09 Galway 4.04.
The Down team was: Eamon
McKay: Gearge Lavery, Leo Murphy, Pat Rice: Kevin Mussen,
Jas McCartan, Kevin O'Neill; Kieran Denvir, Tony Hadden;
Sean O'Neill, Joe Lennon, Paddy Doherty; Jarlath Carey,
Patsy O'Hagan, Brian Morgan.
Subs: Eamon Lundy, Dan McCartan,
Dominic McCartan, Jim Fitzpatrick, Ronnie Moore, Sean Collins,
Seamus Rodgers, Brian Murphy.
But more was to follow.
Sunday, 9th August, 1959 was a day of brilliant sunshine
and from before noon, by rail and bus and car, they poured
into Clones town. The support from Down was massive and,
while Cavan followers displayed their honoured royal blue
and white, there was no doubt at all, but that they were
well outnumbered by the red and black of County Down.
And it was an historic day as the Mournemen took their first
Ulster Senior Football Championship defeating Cavan 2.18
- 0.07. Disappointment came in the All-Ireland semi-final
when Galway knocked Down out winning 1.11 to 1.04.
Sixties belonged to Down. Sam Maguire came three times.
Three N.F.L. titles. An All-Ireland Hurling title. Bryansford's
Ulster Championship & Under-Age Hurling titles. Not
only in Ulster, but in Ireland, did Down teams make that
tremendous impact in that glorious golden decade. Indeed,
wherever you talk Gaelic football of the Sixties, invariably
the conversation swings around to the great Down teams of
that decade. True, Galway won their three consecutive Finals
then, but it was Down, previously unheard of, perpetual
"also rans", that flashed like a meteor across
the Gaelic scene with an exciting young team that caught
the imagination by introducing a style that fused the traditional
catch and kick with a game of short passing, cohesive movements
which created a spectacular and at times bewildering pattern
of play. Perhaps never before or since has there been a
team in which claim to star rating was so consistently for
the whole unit. Personalities there were, but the focus
of the limelight swung continually from game to game. They
contested twelve consecutive Ulster Finals from 1958 to
1969, won seven, and in three challenges for the Sam Maguire
Cups gained three victories. They were the first Gaelic
football team to do a coast to coast tour of America.
It is difficult for a Down
person to be objective but many long time Gaelic followers,
in the media and elsewhere have rated the 1960-61 teams
among the greatest ever to grace Croke Park. Raymond Smith,
Irish Independent Journalist writes in his book "The
Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games":
me say that I have talked to great judges of the game who
have no doubt that the Down 1960-61 side, with the penetrating
half-forward line of Sean O'Neill, Jim McCartan and Paddy
Doherty, was the most powerful in football history."
Surprisingly, perhaps in
view of the high level of football interest in the County,
this decade saw the great hurling revival in Down which
brought All- Ireland honours at Junior and under-age levels.
Success swept wide across the Gaelic arena when the first
All-Ireland Camogie title came to the County and St. Colman's
College, Alma Mater of many of the Down "greats",
brought the coveted Hogan Cup to rest in the Frontier Town.
And as this new era dawns, the perception of the history
of the County changes.
raises Sam Maguire aloft in 1960
8th May1960: Down
win their first National Football League Title: Down
0.12 Cavan 0.09
31st July 1960:
Down retain the Ulster Senior Title: Down 3.07 Cavan
On the same day the double
was achieved by the minor footballers: Down 2.07 Monaghan
11th Sept 1960: In
a replay Down defeat Offaly 1.07 - 1.05 to qualify for their
first All-Ireland Final
25th Sept 1960: Down
win the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time defeating Kerry
2.10 - 0.08
9th Oct 1960: The
St Brendan Cup was won against New York 2.08 - 0.06
Raises Sam Aloft
In 1961 the team repeated
their success of the previous year when they defeated Offaly
this time to win their second All-Ireland title. If there
was ticket fever in 1960, it was nothing to that of 1961,
for Offay now, as well as Down, brought tremendous support.
Once again attendance records were broken. The official
figure for that Final on 24th September, 1961 was 90,556,
the biggest crowd ever to attend a sporting fixture in Ireland,
and a figure that must stand as an all lime record as safety
considerations has meant a much reduced capacity in Croke
The final score was: Down
3.06 Offaly 2.08
The USA Tour: The
County footballers tour of the States was another first
for Down. County teams had played before in New York, in
San Francisco and various other cities, but hitherto no
team from Ireland had embarked on a 9000 mile coast to coast
odyssey playing matches in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia
and San Francisco.
1962 saw Down relinquish
their Ulster and All-Ireland titles when Cavan defeated
them in the Ulster Final.
1962 saw Down relinquish their
Ulster and All-Ireland titles when Cavan defeated
them in Clones.
1964 was another historic
year for Down when in that memorable summer the County resounded
to the tread of her hurling men who were on the march
to an historic victory in the Junior Hurling Championship
and the capture of Ulster's first All-Ireland Hurling title
defeating London 3.02 to 1.03 in the Final.
Two more Ulster Senior
titles were annexed in 1965 and 1966 but Down failed at
the All-Ireland semi-final stage to galway and Meath respectively.
But 1966 was also the year that Down minors reached their
first All-Ireland final where they were defeated by Mayo
1.12 to 1.08.
Lennon with "Sam" in 1968
Then came 1968 and what
a year it was once again for Down. First the National
League title was regained with victory over Kildare in the
final. Down 2.14 Kildare 2.11
After another Ulster title
and an All-Ireland semi-final win over Galway on the 23rd
September 1968 Down took the field before a new generation
of fans to prove that the 1960/61 victories were no transient
phenomen; without tradition before then, Down had built
a tradition. And so it was.
The final score was: Down
2.12 Kerry 1.13
Another milestone was achieved
in 1969 when Bryansford became the first Down Club to capture
the Ulster Club Championship title defeating Crosserlough
of Cavan in the final at Casement Park.
Through The Years / County
Board Chairmen / County
Board Secretaries / County
Down All-Stars / The
Railway Cup / National
Titles Won By Down / Ulster
Titles Won By Down / County
Down Football Records / County
Down Hurling Records / County
Down Camogie Records / County
Down Ladies Football Records / County
Down Handball Records / County
Down Scor Sinsear Records / County
Down Scor Na nOg Records
was Created and Designed by Diarmuid Cahill