The Glorious Nineties

The commissions’ ongoing work was soon to bear fruit, and their aims and objectives were realised sooner than they had anticipated. The RGU team of the 90s was the most successful in the club’s history. During the six-year period from 1990 to 1996 they won three County Championships, were beaten finalists in two, won one senior league title and were beaten finalists and semi-finalists in the Ulster Club Championships. The league and Championship wins of 1991 was the one and only time the club achieved this unique double on their long and proud history. The seconds meanwhile won the All County Premier Reserve Division 2 title.

The indications in 1990 that the RGU would be a force to reckon with came in mid-summer, when the team strung together a sequence of impressive victories in league and championships. Their 0.12 to 1.5 win over Burren in the 1990 Championship final bridged a twelve-year gap.

Back Row: R. Starkey, C. Deegan, M. O’Hare, B. Breen, P. Moore, K. Smyth, P. Smith, T.P. Louden, Paul Close, W. Fitzpatrick, P. Evans, J. McGrath.
Middle Row: J. ONeill, M. Bohill, S. Cahir, T. Slavin, M. Quinn, S. Quinn, S.Stockdale, J.Cunningham, P.Deeny.
Front Row: G. Deegan, H. Rice, G. Breen.

The following year was to be even more memorable. After retaining their championship title by beating Castlewellan in a pulsating final, it was back to Ulster again. Wins over Armagh Harps, and Lisnaskea, guaranteed the RGU a semi-final place. Unfortunately they were beaten by Killybegs in the semi-final on November 17th 1991. But 1991 was to end on a high when on December 24th Finton Masson, chairman of Down County Activities Committee presented the Sam Casey Cup to Kyran Smyth after Downpatrick defeated Burren at Dunleath Park. For the first time in 60 years Downpatrick won the league and for the first time in the clubs history the RGU had acquired the league and championship double.

The next year began well for the team, but an indifferent league campaign and an early exit from the championship left them trophy-less.

Hopes, however, were revived in 1993, and after disposing of Burren in the quarter final, and Loughinisland in the semi-final they again reached the championship final. In the final they re-affirmed their standing in the County with a 3.6 to 0.8 victory over Bryansford in an excellent match. Champions of Down again meant a third campaign in the Ulster Club Championship. A quarter final victory over St. Galls gave them a place in the semi-final against Clanna Gael, Armagh. The RGU’s 3.9 to 1.10 win over Clanna Gael was perhaps one of their best team performances ever. Regretfully that form was not maintained and in the Ulster final, they succumbed tamely to the Peter Canavan inspired Errigal Ciaran, Tyrone champions.

Despite that defeat, the RGU bounced back and reached the County Championship final in both 1994 and 1995, only to loose out to Castlewellan in both finals. During the remaining four years of the decade, they reached the top four play-off stages for league honours, but failed to collect the title each time.

While the senior football team had a period of unprecedented success, juvenile football was in the doldrums. The slumps in the fortunes of the juvenile teams at both regional and county levels prompted the formation of a Juvenile Committee to address this serious situation. The Juvenile Committee acted with great enthusiasm and vigour, and because of their hard work and dedication, they redressed the problems setting the management structures to allow under age football to once again prosper which continues to this day.