Saturday 18 November 2017

All-Ireland Club Football

Martin Breheny's top 25

1 Nemo rangers (cork)

The trophy cabinet doesn't lie. Nemo Rangers' haul of seven All-Ireland (1973, '79, '82, '84, '89, '94, 2003) and 15 Munster titles since 1972 leaves them with a substantial lead over all other clubs. A model of on and off-field efficiency, their structures, vision and dedication to the cause has enabled them to thrive on all fronts.

2 crossmaglen rangers (armagh)

Four All-Ireland (1997, '99, 2000, '07) and eight Ulster titles since 1996 is a remarkable return and, on Thursday, they will attempt to further close the gap on Nemo Rangers. The occupation of their grounds for many years by the British Army certainly didn't break their spirit -- on the contrary it solidified their determination to be a focal point for the local community.

3 st finbarr's (cork)

They haven't won a Cork title for a long time but their successes between 1979 and 1987, during which time they won three All-Ireland and four Munster titles, keeps them in third place on the honours table. It was a glory period for 'The Barrs', who also won two All-Ireland hurling titles. Among their dual players were Jimmy Barry-Murphy, John Allen, Christy Ryan and Donal O'Grady.

4 st vincent's (dublin)

One of the most famous clubs in GAA history, they won All-Ireland titles in 1976 and 2008 and have also won four Leinster titles. Among the star names on the 1976 team were Gay O'Driscoll, Brian Mullins, Tony Hanahoe, Jimmy Keaveney, Bobby Doyle, Mickey Whelan, Fran Ryder and Dave Billings. Current Dublin manager Pat Gilroy was on the 2008 team.

5 burren (down)

They ended a barren decade without a Down title last year but lost to Crossmaglen in the Ulster championship. It was all very different back in the 1980s when they won two All-Ireland (1986, '88) and five Ulster titles in a six-year period with a team which featured Tommy, Brendan and Vincent McGovern, Paddy O'Rourke and John Treanor.


One of the younger clubs in the GAA (it was founded in 1959), it has developed into one of the most formidable outfits, a position it seems set to maintain into the future from its large, well-organised base in south Dublin. Two All-Ireland (1995 and 2009) and four Leinster titles have already been secured.


Given their table-topping performances in Leinster, where they lead the table with seven titles, they would have expected to win more than one All-Ireland, but their 1983 triumph remains their only success. Liam Scully captained the '83 team which also featured Colm and Gerry Browne, Eamonn Whelan, Tom Prendergast and Pat Critchley.


It's the top Connacht club, having won one All-Ireland and five provincial titles. Clan na nGael (Roscommon) have won seven Connacht titles but failed to make the All-Ireland breakthrough. Corofin's All-Ireland win in 1998 was the pre-cursor to Galway's breakthrough in what was a special year for Ray Silke, who captained club and county to the ultimate prizes.


One All-Ireland (1992) and three Munster titles is their haul so far. Colm Cooper was team mascot in '92 and is a key figure on the current team which reached the 2010 Munster final, losing to Nemo Rangers.


Inter-county success continues to elude Antrim but St Gall's have delivered in style on the club scene, winning one All-Ireland (2010) and three Ulster finals while being runners-up in three provincial and one All-Ireland campaign.


Their All-Ireland success came in 1972 when, captained by Larry Diamond, they beat UCC in the final in Croke Park in front of a few hundred spectators. They have since gone on to win two Ulster titles and were beaten finalists three times.


One All-Ireland (2005) and three Connacht titles puts them in the same bracket as Crossmolina, but Ballina were provincial runners-up more often than their fellow Mayo men. Their big breakthrough came in '05 when they beat Portlaoise in the All-Ireland final.


Tom Nallen captained them to All-Ireland glory against Nemo Rangers in the 2001 final, and they have also won three Connacht titles. They were outsiders against Nemo in '01 but with Ciaran McDonald and James Nallen leading the way, they stunned the Corkmen in a final that was delayed by a month due to the foot and mouth outbreak.


With Croke Park under redevelopment, the 2002 All-Ireland final was played in Thurles, which appeared to give Nemo Rangers an advantage, but Ballinderry turned in an excellent performance to win by seven points and take the title for the first time. They won Ulster titles in 1981 and 2001 and were runners-up in '08.


Remarkably, a return of 2-2 was enough to win the 1985 All-Ireland final for Desmonds against St Vincent's (Dublin). A late goal by Donie Buckley secured victory for Castleisland, who also reached the following year's final, where they lost to Burren (Down).


Over 300 people gathered to clap the Lavey squad onto the team bus for the trip to Dublin on the eve of the 1991 All-Ireland final. By the following evening, the parish was united in celebration as a John McGurk-captained team beat Salthill (Galway) on a memorable occasion in Croke Park.


Like Castleisland, they won one All-Ireland title and two Munster titles, but Desmonds reached two All-Ireland finals, whereas Rangers reached one. Managed by John Evans, they beat Eire Og (Carlow) by 4-5 to 0-11 in the 1996 All-Ireland final.


Alan Kerins will attempt to achieve an All-Ireland double with Clarinbridge on Thursday, having won a football medal with Salthill-Knocknacarra in 2006, on a side which also featured Michael Donnellan, Finian Hanley, Sean Armstrong and Maurice Sheridan.


The only Wicklow club to win the All-Ireland title, Baltinglass made the Leinster breakthrough in 1989 before taking the All-Ireland title in 1990. Con Murphy scored 2-3 in the final against Clan na nGael of Roscommon.


A team which featured Mikey Sheehy, John, Ger and Tony O'Keeffe, Ger Power and Denis Long would always be fancied to do well, and so it proved for Austin Stacks in 1976/77 when they won the Munster and All-Ireland titles.


The ultimate family club, featuring no fewer than five Meehan brothers, landed the big prize in dramatic circumstances in 2004, beating an O Se-powered An Ghaeltacht (Kerry) by a point in the final.


Founded in 1887, O'Donovan Rossa brought the All-Ireland title to Skibbereen in 1993 after beating Eire Og (Carlow) in the final. Captained by the late Michael McCarthy, O'Donovan Rossa had other star performers in Kevin O'Dwyer, along with Tony and Don Davis.


It's all about winning the All-Ireland, which is why Clan na nGael are so far down the rankings. However, there's no doubting the quality of a squad that won seven Connacht titles in the 1980s and reached no fewer than five All-Ireland finals. They lost all five, four of them consecutively from 1987 to 1990.


They are in second place behind Portlaoise on the Leinster honours table, having won five titles in the 1990s. However, they couldn't quite land the All-Ireland prize. They reached the final in 1993 (losing to O'Donovan Rossa in a replayed final) and in '96 (losing to Laune Rangers).


They won three successive Ulster titles from 1978 to 1980 and a fourth in '89, but failed to make the All-Ireland breakthrough. They reached the final in '79 but came up against an exceptionally strong Nemo Rangers side, losing by 2-9 to 1-3 on a snowy St Patrick's Day.

Irish Independent

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