Downpatrick FC – History 2001 – Present
Downpatrick FC was formed in June 2001 on the back of Downpatrick Celtic who played in the Newcastle League and Downshire Hospital who played in the Amateur League amalgamating. In their first year the football club had four teams, one in Division 2A of the Amateur League and three teams in the Newcastle League. The first management duo of Downpatrick firsts was John McCarthy and Sean Bell.
The 2001/02 season proved to be successful with three out of the four teams winning their respective league campaigns, the first winning Division 2A, the thirds and fourths winning Division 2 and 3 of the Newcastle league respectively. The first team also reached the final of the Junior Shield but were beaten by Raceview Rangers 2 – 0.
In 2002/2003 the first team would go on to achieve back to back promotions by winning Division 1B of the Amateur League, John McCarthy’s young charges were beginning to make the rest of the leagues sit up and take notice of their performances. They reached the quarter final of the Border Cup and the fourth round of the Steel & Sons Cup in the same season.
Downpatrick’s third season saw them reach their first Christmas final when they played neighbours Killyleagh YC in the final of the Border Cup at Wilgar Park. The final was a game of two halves with Downpatrick dominating the first half and went in at half time leading one nil thanks to a goal from Peter Telford. In the second half Killyleagh came out and dominated the remainder of the game scoring two goals to win the game. Downpatrick FC finished the 2003/04 season on a high by securing the Division 1A title, their third title in three years.
The club made a few major changes in the 2004/05 season, they reduced the number of the teams from four to three and the second team left the Newcastle League to join the third division of the Amateur League. This decision proved to be successful with the seconds under the stewardship of Gerard O’Donnell and Mick McCreesh completing the double by winning their league (3E) and winning the Templeton Cup and the thirds managed by Leo Kearney also completing a league and cup double. The first team had a relatively quiet season in the Premier Division of the Amateur League, finishing 11th and bowing out of all cup competitions in the early rounds.
The 2005/2006 season proved to be the last season of John McCarthy and Sean Bell’s reign, they guided the team to Premier League survival on the last day of the season with an away victory at neighbours Drumaness Mills. The team eventually finished 10th but both McCarthy and Bell felt they had taken the team as far as they could.
2006/07 was the dawn of a new era for Downpatrick, with new management teams in charge of the firsts and seconds, the club also reduced their number of teams to two. Stephen Galbraith and Carl Flanaghan took over the first team job while Terry Holland, Jim Connolly and Barney Donnelly were in charge of the second team. Galbraith and Flanaghan brought about stability to the team as they improved on the previous seasons league position by finishing fifth. The first team also reached the semi-final of the Border Cup, losing narrowly to Dunmurray Rec. The second’s team went on to secure their second Templeton Cup in three years by beating Temple Rangers seconds 2 – 0.
The 2007/08 season was the best season of Downpatrick’s history so far with both teams winning their leagues. The first team winning the Premier Division of the Amateur League for the first time, they also ran Irish League giants Portadown very close in the fourth round of the Irish Cup. Downpatrick were leading one nil with only minutes remaining, only for the ‘Ports’ to score two goals in injury time. The seconds also secured their league title, Division 3E and were narrowly beaten in the Templeton Cup Final.
The first team came so close to retaining the Jefferson Cup only to agonisingly lose the title on the last day of the 2008/09 season. The second’s team however went one better by retaining the 3D title, however the season finished on a poor note for the club with both management teams stepping down.
The Stranney brothers, Paul and David took up the helm of managing the first team in 2009/10 and in the first few months guided the team to a Steel & Sons Cup Final on Christmas morning against local rivals Kilmore Rec. Unfortunately the cup final was a game to far for Downpatrick as they lost two nil. The Cup Final was as good as it got for Downpatrick that season with the team unable to mount a challenge for the league and ended up finishing mid-table.
For the second season in a row Downpatrick started their league campaign with new management in place with Leo Kearney, Michael McGarrity and Stevie Hughes taking over the first team role. The management trio were unable to inspire the team and with poor results they were replaced by Bobby Murphy and Kevin Trueman. The team rallied in the final few months of the 2010/11 season and secured their Premier League status.
The 2011/12 season again saw Downpatrick looking for a new manager and appointed Donal Bell, Joe McMahon and Kevin Trueman to look after the team, with Bell failing to remain until the end of the season. Unfortunately McMahon and Trueman were unable to keep the first team in the Premier League and for the first time in the clubs history they were relegated.
Both Joe McMahon and Kevin Trueman were given the opportunity to lead the first team in the 2012/13 season and they brought back a bit of stability to the club as they set about rebuilding the team. In their first full season in charge they finished seventh in Division 1A in the Amateur League. The seconds team returned to the Newcastle League after a number of years in the Amateur League, with Ryan Doyle and Daire Smyth in charge they went on to win the Division 2 title with relative ease.
2013/14 saw signs of improvement within the football club, the first team finished third in 1A and also reached the semi-final of the Border Cup only to be beaten by local rivals Kilmore Rec two nil. The seconds who had been promoted to Division 1 of the Newcastle League finished third in the league and also reached the final of the Division 1 League Cup only to be beaten by Ballynahinch Olympic seconds.
The 2014/15 season was a big season for Downpatrick Football Club, they started their own Youth Section which proved to be very popular. We entered an under 16’s and 15’s team in the Lisburn League, an under 13 team and a 9-a-side Development team in the Downpatrick Youth League along with having close to 100 children in our Mini-Soccer section (6 – 11 year olds). Downpatrick reached the final of the Border Cup that season but came up just short against Ards Rangers despite performing quite well on the day. However they didn’t let that disappointment deter them as they went on to secure the Division 1A title. The seconds competed in the 1st Division of the Newcastle League that season and produced an impressive season by finishing third in the league, a reshuffle of the leagues saw them promoted to the Premier Division.
Downpatrick’s first season back in the Premier Division (2015/16) started of really positively but a combination of bad weather and cup runs saw Downpatrick play very few league games resulting in playing a game Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for five weeks at the end of the season. This amount of fixtures took it toll and their title challenge suffered resulting in a fourth finish place. That season also saw Downpatrick reach the Clarence Cup Final against league champions Immaculata, despite dominating long periods of the game the match ended scoreless and went to penalties. Unfortunately Immaculata got the better of Downpatrick and went on to secure the double. The seconds finished mid-table that season and also reached the semi-final of the Bobby Dalzell cup.