Ulster Football Championship - County-by-County Guide Mon 11 May 2015 ANTRIM Manager: Frank Fitzsimons (1st season). Titles: Ulster 10 (1951), All-Ireland 0. 2015 championship: Lost Ulster quarter-final to Fermanagh 1-13 to 0-8. Qualifier Round 1A 2-15 to 1-16 win over Laois followed by another loss to Fermanagh (1-21 to 0-11). How it unfolded Further depressing regression from the recent high point of reaching the 2009 Ulster final. Nearly got promoted but were quickly left facing the usual problems of player unavailability – former All Star nominee Michael McCann walked away, CJ McGourty was dropped before the qualifier game with Laois. Somehow though they mustered a remarkable comeback win against all odds. Albeit the rematch with Fermanagh brought more agony. ARMAGH Manager: Kieran McGeeney (1st season). Titles: Ulster 14 (2008), All-Ireland 1 (2002). 2015 championship: Lost Ulster quarter-final to Donegal 0-8 to 2-11. Beat Wicklow 2-17 to 2-7 in qualifier but lost to Galway 0-12 to 1-12. How it unfolded The organisation and hard-work that nearly took down Donegal in Croke Park last year was so dearly lacking this summer. Their usual relentlessly well stocked rearguard was leaking, and even on form that can’t compensate for their lack of oomph up front. A disappointing non-contest against Donegal this time around, but much like the league they did what they had to in the Wicklow game. They looked very limited in the Galway defeat though and will have a lot of soul searching to do this winter. CAVAN Manager: Terry Hyland (3rd season). Titles: Ulster 38 (1997), All-Ireland 5 (1952). 2015 championship: Lost Ulster quarter-final to Monaghan 0-16 to 0-15. A 17 point qualifier win over London was then followed by a 1-16 to 3-17 defeat against Roscommon. How it unfolded A succession of departures, primarily Alan Clarke, David Givney and Eugene Keating, got the year off to a glum start. Some battling displays kept Cavan in Division Two but a well-fancied Monaghan proved too strong in Ulster. The blanket defence was still functioning – only Dublin and Donegal in the top two divisions conceded fewer scores – but the attack laboured with just one goal over seven league matches and none in the championship before the trip to London. The Roscommon game was a battle of who wanted it more and Cavan lacked enthusiasm. DERRY Manager: Brian McIver (3rd season). Titles: Ulster 7 (1998), All-Ireland 1 (1993). 2015 championship: Beat Down 0-12 to 0-11 at Celtic Park. Lost to Donegal 0-10 to 1-9 in the Ulster semi-final. Beat Wexford but lost to Galway 1-11 to 0-8 in the qualifiers. How it unfolded Stripped down to the bones of a panel for what would have been a testing Division One campaign anyway they ended up reviled for the damage limitation exercise against Dublin. Eoin Bradley’s accuracy was key as he kicked the winning point against Down in the Ulster quarter-final and they put in a solid shift against Donegal. Although they were always going to fall short. Avoided a repeat of the Longford loss last year against Wexford but just weren't as good as Galway. DONEGAL Manager: Rory Gallagher (1st season). Titles: Ulster 8 (holders), All-Ireland 2 (2012). 2015 championship: Beat Tyrone in Ulster preliminary round 1-13 to 1-10. Before beating Armagh 2-11 to 0-8 and then Derry in the semi-final. Lost to Monaghan in the final though 0-10 to 0-11. Quick recovery in a 10 point win against Galway, but beaten 0-11 to 2-13 in the All-Ireland quarter final against Mayo. How it unfolded Ticked over competently in the first post-McGuinness era league and reached the semi-finals where the suffocating defensive blanket took a breather with four goals conceded. They continued to follow the script with their victory over Tyrone in the Ulster opener, and then Armagh with surprising ease; the turnover of opponents’ ball and strong counter-attacks remained important to the team but the question remained - how much is left in tank after four years in the fast lane. Derry proved a tougher obstacle than expected while Monaghan won the tactical battle. Great spirit was shown in bouncing back a week later against Galway but looked short of ideas against Mayo. The question now is, how many of this Donegal team will be back again next summer. DOWN Manager: Jim McCorry (1st season). Titles: Ulster 12 (1994), All-Ireland 5 (1994). 2015 championship: Lost by a point (0-11 to 0-12) to Derry at Celtic Park, before 2-11 to 2-16 defeat against Wexford in the qualifiers. How it unfolded Jim McCorry’s management begun with promotion – and disappointment against Roscommon in the divisional final. At times they looked irresistible and at others, all too beatable. The departure of Ambrose Rogers, Dan Gordon and Benny Coulter left the team even less equipped physically. Top scorers in the league but lost a low-scoring Ulster quarter-final away to Derry. No shortage of scores against Wexford, just they conceded 2-16 themselves. FERMANAGH Manager: Pete McGrath (2nd season). Titles: Ulster 0, All-Ireland 0. 2015 championship: Won Ulster quarter-final against Antrim 1-13 to 0-8. Lost semi-final to Monaghan 1-20 to 0-13 before beating Antrim again in the qualifiers. Then shocked Roscommon 1-14 to 0-17 and beat Westmeath 1-13 to 0-7. Lost All-Ireland quarter-final v Dublin, 2-15 to 2-23. How it unfolded After a turbulent first year largely spent playing catch-up, manager Peter McGrath built a coherent team and had the momentum of promotion and a first round win against Antrim. Defence was tightened so effectively it was the second meanest in the entire league while up front Seán Quigley ended the regulation campaign as the competition’s top scorer - he carried that form into the summer. Monaghan were flattered with their 10-point semi-final win after a tight battle for long periods. Antrim were again dispatched in the qualifiers and they showed great spirit in their comeback win over Roscommon and nine point Westmeath victory. They were within eight points of Dublin too, fantastic campaign. MONAGHAN Manager: Malachy O’Rourke (3rd season). Titles: Ulster 16 (2015), All-Ireland 0. 2015 championship: Won Ulster quarter-final against Cavan 0-16 to 0-15, then beat Fermanagh before 0-11 to 0-10 Ulster final win. Lost All-Ireland quarter final to Tyrone 0-14 to 0-18. How it unfolded A second Ulster title in three years isn't bad is it? Having reached the play-off stages in three successive seasons in ascending divisions, Monaghan even exorcised a bit of the bad Dublin karma along the way. Still immensely dependent on Conor McManus but his form was certainly good. They tactically outclassed Donegal, making them genuine contenders, only for Tyrone to burst their bubble in the next round. The woes continue. TYRONE Manager: Mickey Harte (13th season). Titles: Ulster 13 (2010), All-Ireland 3 (2008). 2015 championship: Lost Ulster preliminary round to Donegal 1-13 to 1-10. Followed by a 1-14 to 0-8 qualifier win over Limerick, a two point win against Meath and a 0-17 to 0-9 win over Tipperary. Seven point Sligo win, followed by 0-18 to 0-14 All-Ireland quarter-final triumph over Monaghan. Lost semi-final 1-11 to 0-18 against Kerry. How it unfolded Problems mounted for Mickey Harte after the embrace of a very defensive configuration didn’t stave of league relegation. Unease at some panel departures were offset by a good display against Kerry and the under-21s. They showed that they still have enough good players, young and old, in putting it up to Donegal but their confidence was hit further by the defeat. They did enough to get by Limerick and then Meath, while the Tipperary and Sligo games showed that they really were improving. It all came together against Monaghan, and only for four missed goal chances against Kerry they could have caused an even bigger upset. Ultimately a somewhat similar fate for Tyrone but on the basis of how the year started off, and the amount of fresh blood, a positive championship.