Down county football team

The Down county football team represents Down GAA, the county board of the Gaelic Athletic Association, in the Gaelic sport of football. The team competes in the three major annual inter-county competitions; the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship, the Ulster Senior Football Championship and the National Football League.

Down GAA crest.jpg
Irish:An Dún
Nickname(s):The Mournemen
County board:Down GAA
Captain:Darren O'Hagan
Home venue(s):Páirc Esler, Newry
Recent competitive record
Current All-Ireland status:Ulster (Preliminary Round in 2021)
Last championship title:1994
Current NFL Division:2 (won 2021 relegation play-off v Laois)
Last league title:1983
First colours
Second colours
Current season

Down's home ground is Páirc Esler, Newry. The team's manager is vacant.

The team last won the Ulster Senior Championship in 1994, the All-Ireland Senior Championship in 1994 and the National League in 1983.

With just one loss in six appearances in All-Ireland finals, Down has a reputation for rising to the big occasion. Kitted out in distinctive red and black, the team's massive fan base has been responsible for some of the largest match attendances in GAA history. Although, since the last decade of the twentieth century, the team has had a 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 one point to Cork.[1][2]


Down and Galway in action in the 1965 National League semi-final
Down (red) in action against Queens University Belfast in the 2009 Dr McKenna Cup


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.

Down won the 1959 Ulster Senior Football Championship (SFC) 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 Down to defeat Kerry, who were almost completely unbeaten at the time, and which brought to an end the Kerry football regime for a few years.

In 1961, Down defeated Offaly by one point in a game that featured five first half goals. In that three-year period their supporters surpassed every attendance record in the book.[citation needed] 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 crowd of 70,125 attended. The 71,573 who watched Down play Kerry in 1961 still stands as a record for an All-Ireland SFC semi-final. In 1968, Down defeated 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,[citation needed] the county took twenty years to regain its status.



In 1991, Down surprised favourites Meath, Barry Breen scoring the goal that sent his team into a lead of eleven points with twenty minutes to go, a lead that Meath could not match. In 1994, Mickey Linden sent James McCartan, Junior in for a goal directly under Hill 16, a goal which silenced Dublin and helped Down claim its fifth All-Ireland SFC title.


In 2008, Down defeated Tyrone after a replay in the Ulster SFC but lost to Armagh in the Ulster SFC semi-final. Down advanced to play Offaly in the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers. After a convincing 5–19 to 2–10 victory over Offaly, Down faced Laois in a Round 2 qualifier. Defeating Laois by a single point, and with Dan Gordon being sent off, Down progressed to the last round of the qualifiers, in which the team was paired with Wexford, a game held at Croke Park. Down had Dan Gordon's suspension removed, but awful conditions and a poor Down performance resulted in a defeat to Wexford by a scoreline of 2–13 to 0–12.

Down reached the 2010 All-Ireland SFC Final after a narrow win over Kildare in the semi-final. However, Down lost to Cork in that game, the first time Down experienced defeat in an All-Ireland SFC final. Cork trailed by three points at half-time but improved in the second half and won by a scoreline of 0–16 to 0–15. Down captain Benny Coulter's effort on 70 minutes and a fisted Daniel Hughes effort one minute into added time left one point between the teams. That was the way it stayed, as Cork collected its seventh All-Ireland SFC crown in front of a crowd of 81,604.

In 2019, Down won the U20 Leo Murphy Cup Football Development League, defeating Cavan in the final by a scoreline of 1–14 to 0–11.

Style of playEdit

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 of the twenty-first century, with the introduction of more negative tactics to quell forward lines, with a massive emphasis on blanket defence.

Current squadEdit

Team as per Down vs Cavan in the 2020 Ulster SFC semi-final, 15 November 2020

No. Player Position Club
1 Rory Burns Goalkeeper Castlewellan
2 Peter Fegan Right Corner Back Burren
3 Patrick Murdock Full Back Warrenpoint
4 Pierce Laverty Left Corner Back Saul
5 Gerard Collins Right Half Back R. G. U. Downpatrick
6 Kevin McKernan Centre Back Burren
7 Daniel Guinness Left Half Back Carryduff
8 Caolan Mooney (c) Midfield Rostrevor
9 Jonny Flynn Midfield Loughinisland
10 Barry O'Hagan Right Half Forward Clonduff
11 Paul Devlin Centre Forward Kilcoo
12 Conor Poland Left Half Forward Longstone
13 Jerome Johnston Right Corner Forward Kilcoo
14 Donal O'Hare Full Forward Burren
15 Ceilum Doherty Left Corner Forward Kilcoo
No. Player Position Club
16 John O'Hare Substitute Glenn
17 Ryan McAleenan Substitute Warrenpoint
18 Cormac McCartan Substitute Warrenpoint
19 Brendan McArdle Substitute Annaclone
20 Corey Quinn Substitute Mayobridge
21 Liam Kerr Substitute Burren
22 Dylan Ward Substitute Kilcoo
23 James Guinness Substitute Carryduff
24 Ryan Johnston Substitute Kilcoo
25 Niall Donnelly Substitute Tullylish
26 Sheelan Johnston Substitute Kilcoo

Current management teamEdit

Managerial historyEdit

Pete McGrath 1989–2002

Paddy O'Rourke 2002–06

Ross Carr 2006–09

James McCartan 2009–14

Jim McCorry 2014–15

Éamonn Burns 2015–18

Paddy Tally 2018–21[3][4]


Notable playersEdit

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:

  • Sean O'Neill, All Star (1971 & 72) and Down's only representative on the Gaelic Football Team of the Millennium
  • Colm McAlarney, All Star (1975 & 78) player for Down
  • Kevin Mussen, from the Clonduff Club, the first Down man to lift the Sam Maguire Cup in 1960
  • Paddy Doherty, All-Ireland winning captain 1961
  • Joe Lennon, All-Ireland winning captain 1968
  • Patsy O'Hagan, All-Ireland Winner (1960 & 1961) and selector for 1968 All-Ireland winning team
  • Patrick Kielty, Comedian, All-Ireland Winning team 1987 (Down Minors)
  • Paddy O'Rourke, All-Ireland winning captain 1991 and former Down Senior Football manager
  • James McCartan, Junior, All-Ireland winner in 1991 and 1994, All Star (1990 & 1994) and managed Queen's University to Sigerson Cup glory in 2007. Present manager of Down Minor team.
  • Greg Blaney, All-Ireland winner in 1991 and 1994, three-time All Star winner
  • Ross Carr, Two times All Ireland Winner (1991 & 94), All Star (1991) player for Down and former Down Senior Football manager
  • DJ Kane, All-Ireland winning captain 1994 and former assistant county manager with Down
  • Ambrose Rogers, from the Longstone Club, was Captain in 2010 but was injured before the All Ireland Final
  • Mickey Linden, winner of 2 All-Ireland medals (1991 & 94) and All Star (1994). Is regarded as one of Down's best Gaelic Footballers of all time
  • Gregory McCartan, All Ireland winner 1994, All Star 1994, one of the best midfielders in the country
  • Benny Coulter, star half forward and Ireland international, All-Star (2010)
  • Dan Gordon, Star midfielder from the Loughinisland Club, captained Down Senior team in 2007/08. In 2010 Dan played in defence.
  • Brendan McVeigh, An Ríocht, All Ireland winner & All Star in 2010. Down GAA First division winner 2007. Only Down keeper to ever win an all star.
  • Martin Clarke, An Ríocht club, won an All-Ireland Minor medal in 2005 and is a former player for AFL club Collingwood Magpies; All-Star (2010)
  • Kevin McKernan, All-Ireland Minor Championship 2005, Ulster Under-21 winner 2008, current Down player
  • Daniel Hughes, Saval, All star (2010)

All StarsEdit

Down has 23 All Stars.



  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "BBC Sport - Gaelic Games - All-Ireland SFC Final: Cork 0-16 0-15 Down". BBC News. 19 September 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Paddy Tally appointed as new Down Senior Football Manager". Down GAA. 23 August 2018. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Paddy Tally leaves role as Down manager". RTÉ. 9 July 2021.