Éire Óg’s success on the previous decade carried on throughout the eighties. They reached the Intermediate Football Championship final in 1980 but unfortunately lost to O’Donnell’s. The minor footballers won the 1981 South Antrim Minor Football Championship the following year.
1982 saw Éire Óg reach three finals in their 50th anniversary year, but only managed to win one, the Martin Cup. St Gall ’s and Gort na Mona were beaten before Éire Óg had a convincingly win over St Malachy’s. Unfortunately Éire Óg lost the Intermediate Football Championship final to Davitt’s after a replay, despite being the favourites to lift the title and also lost out to Davitt’s again in the final of the Beringer Cup.
1983 was very similar to the previous year, in that Éire Óg reached three cup finals. This time they went one better, winning two of the three cups. Éire Óg exacted some kind of revenge over Davitt’s, their nemesis in the 1982 finals, when they beat them in the 1983 Beringer Cup final, after overcoming Gael Uladh on the way. The 1983 Martin Cup was added following a close match against Clonard in the final. For the third time in four years Éire Óg were Intermediate Championship Finalists, losing out to Moneyglass this time. The reserve footballers won the 1983 Junior Football League, beating Clonard in a play off, thereby equalling 1974 and 1979 in terms of four senior trophies won.
Not to be outdone the minors also had a great year. The footballers won the Butler Cup and were 1983 South Antrim Minor Football Champions, while the hurlers were beaten 1983 Minor Hurling Championship Finalists, with both teams finishing runners up in their leagues.
Also in 1983 a big attraction at the Belfast Hurling Championships was the running of the Casement Mile Relay race, with Éire Óg winning by the smallest of margins from Rossa in 3 mins 52 secs. The Éire Óg team was Phil Boomer, John Morgan, Ciaran Moore and Gerard Ferran. This race was never held again so technically speaking, Éire Óg are the current reigning county mile relay champions! The following year Éire Óg won their own Annual Football Tournament, which attracted many top teams from Antrim and Down.
1985 Intermediate Football Champions
Eventually, after the final disappointments of 1980, 1982 and 1983 Éire Óg finally lifted the 1985 Intermediate Football Championship, when they beat McDermott’s 2-08 to 0-12 in the final. While t he Senior Reserve footballers won the Division 2 league title.
Carrying on from the successful 1983 minor sides, Éire Óg produced many excellent minor teams in the 1980’s. The South Antrim Minor Football Championship was won in 1987 and 1988, Butler Cups were won in 1986, 1987 and 1989 and the minor football league in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Éire Óg added another Martin Cup in 1989 and the senior reserve footballers won two consecutive league titles in 1988 and 1989.
1989 saw Éire Óg beat Dunloy in the Senior Football Championship, their last victory in the SFC. They won 2-5 to 0-6, creating a big upset and even bigger celebrations. Rossa unfortunately won the Quarter Final easily, but the Dunloy match will live on in the memory of all the Ó gs involved on the day. The following year also saw Éire Óg compete in Senior Football Championship for what has proved to be their last game at senior level, for the time being at least. They lost 5-09 to 1-11 to Tir na n Óg on July 29th 1990 .
Éire Óg had almost the perfect season in 1989. They were involved in a league play off with neighbours St Agnes to see who would go up to Division One. Unfortunately Éire Óg’s earlier good form in the league deserted them and they lost.
St Anne’s Derriaghy – The Merger
Despite the good Minor teams of the 1980’s, there were not that many underage players now coming through to the senior ranks. The double league winning Minor team of 1989 and 1990 was to be the last side to challenge for honours for several years.
In April 1989 the Éire Óg and St Anne’s Derriaghy GAA clubs merged to form Éire Óg Doire Achaidh CLG. The late Hugh McPoland approached both clubs. Hugh felt that there were too many weak clubs in Antrim, in Belfast in particular, who were hanging on by their fingertips. He had the insight that told him that Éire Óg had a strong senior team, while Derriaghy had a strong youth set up and a base at St Anne’s Primary School in the Derriaghy/Black’s Road area but very little to offer as regards senior football.