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12 Heroic Club Championship Kingpins From So-Called Weaker Counties

12 Heroic Club Championship Kingpins From So-Called Weaker Counties

Club championship kingpins, both past and present, which have emerged from unlikely counties. Carlow, Wicklow and Antrim have produced provincial club champions in football, Laois, Carlow and, most unusually, Roscommon have produced provincial champs in hurling.

Here are 12 clubs who have sprung from unlikely counties who have challenged for the highest honours.

Eire Óg

Eire Og

Between 1992 and 1998, the Leinster club championship was dominated by a team from Carlow. Eire Óg won five provincial titles in that period, with only Kilmacud Crokes (1994) and Erin's Isle (1997) interrupting their dominance.

They reaching two All-Ireland finals that decade but failed in both of them.

In 1993, they were pipped by O'Donovan Rossa in a replay, while, in 1996, they fell to the last Kerry side to win the club championship, Laune Rangers, who beat them on an odd scoreline of 4-5 to 0-11.

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Kilmurry Ibrickane

Kilmurry

As of 2016, Clare's designation as a so-called weaker county (SCWC) is in grave jeopardy but there can be little doubt they'd earned the tag in 2011-12 when they were still mired in mid-table of Division 4 of the National League.

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Stepping out from under the shadow of Marty Morrissey's commentary career, the footballers of Kilmurry Ibrickane won two Munster senior club titles in the 2000s, reaching the St. Patrick's Day decider in 2010. In a novel match-up, they were beaten by Antrim club St. Gall's.

St. Gall's

St. Gall's

As above. It was Antrim v Clare in the All-Ireland club final in that oddest of footballing years, 2010. St. Gall's had reached the All-Ireland final in 2006 but were downed by Galway champions Salthill Knocknacarra in a very low scoring game.

Loughgiel Shamrocks

Loughgiel Shamrocks

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There is nothing unusual about an Antrim club winning the Ulster championship, but Loughgiel deserve to be recognised for their exploits in the All-Ireland series.

The most successful club in the history of Antrim hurling, Loughgiel Shamrocks have won two All-Ireland clubs titles in 1983 and 2012. A glut of first half goals, including a hat-trick from their outstanding forward Liam Watson helped Loughgiel power past the Offaly champions Coolderry in the 2012 final.

Four Roads 

1988 is a famous year in Galway hurling. Lamentably, it was the last year the senior team won the All-Ireland hurling title. Less well known is the fact that it is also the last year the Galway club champions failed to get out of Connacht.

Four Roads of Roscommon saw off first time Galway champs Abbeyknockmoy, beating them 3-5 to 1-8.

It was not even the first time Four Roads won the Connacht club championship. Their first title in 1977 was somewhat diminished by virtue of the fact that Galway champions Kiltormer received a six month suspension from the Galway county board over an incident in an U21 game.

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The Ros champions were gifted the provincial title.

Tremane

As with Four Roads, Tremane defeated a Galway club to win the Connacht club hurling title. They were the first non-Galway side to win back in 1976 with a one point win over Kiltormer in the final.

Tremane's two previous appearances in the Connacht club final in 1972 and 1973 had seen them concede a combined total of 14-20. They lost both games to Castlegar.

Baltinglass

Baltinglass

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In over a century of trying, Wicklow have never won a provincial title and at this stage there's a fair chance that they never will.

But at least their club teams have put up a good show from time to time. 1990 was a big year for Wicklow football.

It was the year of their first and only All-Star, won by Kevin O'Brien.

His award was in large part down to his exploits for Baltinglass, the winners of the All-Ireland club championship that year.

In the All-Ireland final, Baltinglass beat Roscommon's Clann na Gael, the team we might refer to as the Buffalo Bills of club Gaelic football.

It was their fourth All-Ireland final defeat in a row.

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Mt. Leinster Rangers

Mount Leinster

A memorable run made more memorable by the commentary of KCLR duo Brendan Hennessy and Terence Kelly, who celebrated Mount Leinster Rangers victory over Oulart the Balagh in the provincial title with a cry of 'SHAME ON WEXFORD!', an exclamation which related to Wexford's desire to see Carlow's teams relegated to a second tier.

They proceeded to beat 2012 champions Loughgiel Shamrocks in the All-Ireland semi-final. Portumna in the final proved a step too far.

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Camross

Camross

Traditionally, the strongest club in Laois, Camross won two provincial championships in 1976 and 1996, beating Brian Cody's James Stephens in the '76 decider and O'Toole's of Dublin in the 1996 showdown.

On both occasions in the All-Ireland series, they were halted by celebrated opposition, with Glen Rovers beating them in the 1977 club final, while Athenry beat them in the '97 semi-final. Interestingly, PJ Cuddy's lengthy career took in both provincial triumphs.

O'Hanrahans

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OHanrahans

The Clinton Presidency was a glorious period for Carlow club football. In his final year in the job, O'Hanrahans became the second Carlow club to win the Leinster club championship, beating Dublin champions Na Fianna in the Leinster club final. Nemo Rangers proved too strong in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Rathnew

Rathnew

Na Fianna's Leinster woes continued the following year as they were felled by Wicklow champions Rathnew in a replay in Newbridge. Derry champions Ballinderry Shamrocks beat them in the All-Ireland semi-final before going on to shock Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland final.

Dromcollogher-Broadford

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Drumcollogher

Limerick champions Dromcollogher-Broadford won a very dour Munster club final in 2008 against Kilmurry Ibrickane, edging them out by 0-6 to 0-5.

As the Irish Examiner wrote, 'The two sides set out their stall from the start, clogging up the middle third and funnelling bodies back to erect the defensive shutters. From that defensive viewpoint the ploys succeeded, each side limited to two scores from play over the hour. For the 3,214 spectators, the tactics made watching the game a trying ordeal.'

Crossmaglen Rangers were too much in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Read more: POLL: Rank Every GAA County Ground In the Country

 

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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