Craigavon Cowboys History
The Craigavon Cowboys are one of the original American football clubs in Ireland dating way back to 1985, with a rich history and a proud tradition. Below is a brief history of the Craigavon Cowboys through each decade. Do you have anything to add to this page? Let us know as we will always be updating this page.
The Craigavon Cowboys were founded on the 22nd April 1985, and one year later won the inaugural Shamrock Bowl (the Irish American football national championship) beating the Dublin Celts 6-2. The Cowboys played out of their first home ground at the Goodyear Social Club, Craigavon.
In 1987 the Cowboys took an historic trip to England and matched up with the Newmarket Hornets. The game came down to the final play of the game as the Cowboys had the chance to tie up the game by converting the extra point or win the game by going for 2. Having travelled that whole way they went for 2 but failed to convert, losing out in the end 19-18
Later on in 1987, it was the Cowboy's turn to host a travelling side as they welcomed the Charlestown Townies (Boston, Massachusetts) to Craigavon as they toured Ireland. It was a disappointing result as the American visitors ran out comfortable winners 60-0.
The team was led by head coach Charles Ebron (USA), achieving some fantastic success and started to become well known in the local area. The Cowboys would contest Shamrock Bowl II in 1987 played at North Belfast RFC. The Dublin Celts would once again provide the opposition, however this time the ‘Boys would lose out 43-25. The Cowboys would continue to compete in 1988 & 1989 but would not see another Shamrock Bowl appearance until 1990.
The success continued in the early 90s for the Cowboys with a return to the Shamrock Bowl in 1990, which was played at Goodyear, Craigavon. The Dublin Celts arrived in town to compete, but they were no match for the Cowboys as the team went on to win the clubs second Shamrock Bowl. The Cowboys would once again return to the main stage in 1992, playing in Shamrock Bowl VII. The 'Boys would go on to beat the Antrim Bulldogs 14-6 at Cooke RFC, Belfast thus securing the national title twice in three years.
In 1991 the Cowboys welcomed the visiting Brussels Raiders (Belgium) to Chamber's Park, Portadown in the Eurobowl (featuring champions from throughout Europe). A big crowd turned out to witness to contest that the visitors came out victorious in, winning 16-6 over the Cowboys.
Paul Irwin found some pictures from the game (slideshow) and you can see some legendary Cowboy's players and coaches throughout.
After a hiatus, the club was re-formed in 2005 and success followed with the club winning the 2009 DV8 championship, securing promotion back to the top flight of Irish American Football. Coached by former player Greg Loughran, the team where known as hard hitting, always growing into a game as they figured out an oppositions game plan and were able to adjust theirs to attack the opponents weaknesses. Throughout the noughties, the Cowboys played their home games from Lismore Playing Fields, Craigavon.
The club consolidated their position with promising league campaigns before a break out 2011. In the 2011 season the Cowboys made it to within one game of the Shamrock Bowl, falling just short to the University of Limerick Vikings in the semi-finals.
The following seasons were less successful, with the club losing many keys players for various reasons and having to move between various home playing fields including Lismore Playing Fields; Lurgan Park; Chambers Park; and Lurgan RFC. The club now has established a base at the newly renovated Peoples Park, Portadown.
2017 saw the senior team compete in IAFL 1, finishing with a 7&1 record. The team progressed through the playoffs to the IAFL 1 Bowl to face the Louth Mavericks at Dundalk RFC. In difficult weather conditions, the Cowboys would come up short, with the Mavericks winning 23-18.
The 2018 season once again saw the Cowboys play in IAFL 1, with the team finishing the regular season with a 5&3 record. The 'Boys once again advanced through the playoffs to reach the Bowl game against the West Dublin Rhinos at Gorey Celtic FC, Wexford. The game ended 16-14 in favour of the Dublin side.
The Cowboys would finally find success in the IAFL 1 Bowl in 2019. After winning the league with a 7&1 record, the Cowboys defeated Trinity College at home 27-19 in the semi final to advance to the Bowl game at Navan RFC. In a closely contested match-up, the Cowboys returned to Craigavon with the IAFL 1 Bowl following a 28-27 win against the Westmeath Minotaurs.
In 2013, the club had 5 players represent Team Ireland Under-20s, who would be the first Irish side to win a game against a North American team by defeating the Greendell Falcons (Canada). The Cowboys youth football programme was formed in 2014 as part of a club restructure and was rewarded early, winning the very first IAFA Youth Championship in 2014 and then repeating the feat again in 2015. Some excellent players have represented the youth team ever since, with the majority moving up to play for the senior team, or continuing to play American football overseas. In April 2017, six members of the Cowboys youth team represented Team Ireland u20s when they took on the AFW USA Elite team in Dublin. In March 2018, Anton Nulty earned his 2nd cap for Team Ireland u20s when they took on AFW USA Elite team in Navan, with David McMichael earning his 1st cap in the same game
The Cowboys have also been competing in the flag football league since 2015, reaching the semi-finals of Emerald Bowl I in the same year before going on to win Emerald Bowl II in 2016, beating the Mullingar Minotaurs 36-0. Following national success, the team travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark to take part in the Champions Bowl (European club competition). In 2017, the Cowboys reached the semi-finals of Emerald Bowl III and again travelled to compete in the Champions Bowl, this time in Vienna, Austria. 2018 was yet another successful year for the flag team, travelling to Glasgow to compete in Flagging New Year as well as Salou to compete in the Champions Bowl. In December 2018, the Cowboys took their 2nd Emerald Bowl crown, beating the Louth Mavericks 18-12 in the championship game and achieving an undefeated season.
2021 Emerald Bowl VII Champions - Craigavon defeated Edenderry Eagles
2019 Glas Bowl I - Craigavon defeated MU Hurricanes
2019 IAFL 1 Bowl - Craigavon defeated Westmeath Minotaurs
2018 Emerald Bowl V Champions - Craigavon defeated Louth Mavericks
2018 IAFL 1 Bowl - West Dublin Rhinos defeated Craigavon
2017 IAFL 1 Bowl - Louth Mavericks defeated Craigavon
2016 Emerald Bowl II Champions - Craigavon defeated Mullingar Minotaurs
2015 IAFA Junior League Champions
2014 IAFA Junior League Champions
2009 IAFL DV8 Champions
2007 Van Scoy Cup Junior Winners
1992 Shamrock Bowl VII - Craigavon defeated Antrim Bulldogs
1990 Shamrock Bowl V - Craigavon defeated Dublin Celts
1987 Shamrock Bowl II - Dublin Celts defeated Craigavon
1986 Shamrock Bowl I - Craigavon defeated Dublin Celts
Cowboys Hall of Fame
* Scored first TD in first Shamrock Bowl
The jersey number 71 has been retired in honour of the late Terry Lynchs work within the club and at national and representative level.