|Irish: An Dún|
County colours: Red & Black
NFL: Division 2
Dominant sport: Gaelic football
Ground Páirc Esler
|Nickname(s): The Mournemen (football)
The Ardsmen (hurling)|
Parent organization Gaelic Athletic Association
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The Down County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Coiste Chontae An Dún) or Down GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for the administration of Gaelic games in County Down.
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- All Stars
- Current football squad
- Notable players
- Current hurling squad
- South Down
- Club Championships
- Down GAA clubs
The county board is also responsible for preparing the Down inter-county teams in the various Gaelic sporting codes; Football, hurling, camogie and handball.
Down was the first of the six counties in Northern Ireland, and the second in Ulster after Cavan to win the All-Ireland football championship, in 1960; the feat was not matched by another team until the 1993 victory of Derry. 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.
In 2013, victory in the Christy Ring Cup final entitled Down to elect, if they chose, to become the second Ulster county in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship for 2014.
The oldest registered club in Down is St Patrick's Mayobridge which was affiliated into the GAA on the 30th April 1888.
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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 twenty 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.
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, 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 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 qualifiers. 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.
Down have 23 All Stars.
Current football squad
Squad as per Down vs Derry, 2015 Ulster Senior Football Championship, Quarter Final, 7 June 2015
Particularly notable Down footballers, including prominent senior county team members, All Stars, and those who played for the county and have achieved fame in other walks of life:
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.
In 2013, at the third time of asking, Down finally won the second tier All-Ireland Hurling Championship, the Christy Ring Cup. Their greatest All-Ireland level success to date, victory also earns Down the right to elect to play in the first tier All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship in 2014, should they select to do so. London so selected in 2012, but the previous year Kerry elected to remain in the second tier.
Current hurling squad
Down hurling team v Derry national hurling league 2012
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 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 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 K Mallon the captain and P Dooey 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.
Leitrim Fontenoys won the 2004 and 2005 All Ireland junior club title.
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).
Under Camogie's National Development Plan 2010-2015, “Our Game, Our Passion,” five new camogie clubs are to be established in the county by 2015.