Posted by Shane Stapleton

Division 4 teams have been taking a battering in 2013 but we have seen plenty of recent upsets by the bottom-rung sides

2013 London Fermanagh

Those GAA anoraks out there who love a quiz might be able to answer this question right off the bat: how many times have Division 4 teams beaten sides from higher tiers in the last four years?

Give up? The answer, which we’re sure you all got, is 14. As well as that, four times have tier-four sides taken those from the higher lands to extra time only to fall at that point. That is some achievement.

And speaking of extra time, you might suspect that the lower league sides might falter in the fitness stakes when asked to play beyond the 70 minutes but, through Limerick and Wicklow, Division 4 has won two of six games when asked to go the extra mile.

Given the maulings we have seen handed out to these basement teams in the 2013 championship, a 33% return in these scenarios is an incredible feat.

London and Leitrim face into an incredible task whenever one of this duo progresses to the Connacht final against Mayo, but three Division 1 teams have been beaten by sides from the bottom rung in the last four seasons.

That includes the Heather County in 2010 — who finished top of the four Divisions before losing the league final to Cork — when Longford put them out of the championship.

Of course the Exiles of London also took James Horan’s men to extra time in 2011, a year when Leitrim also beat Division 2 side Sligo. So as unlikely as a Mayo defeat in the final this year seems, there is a measure of hope for whichever side gets there.

In 2009, Antrim made the notable achievement of reaching the Ulster final as a Division 4 team, a feat which either Leitrim or London will now eclipse. The difference being that the Saffrons took out Division 1 Donegal and Division 3 Cavan along the way.

As has been pointed out time and again, Leitrim can make the final after beating two teams who don’t even operate from Ireland, tier four compatriots New York and London.

The year of the underdog was 2011 though, as five different Division 4 teams got a result against the so-called stronger teams in championship football.

Wicklow and Leitrim both beat Sligo; Longford put down the Breffni boys; Carlow eliminated Louth from Leinster; while the Garden County took Armagh to a qualifier replay and Mayo, as we mentioned earlier, needed extra time to beat London in Connacht.

Then there was 2009 when two teams led the charge for Division 4, Antrim and Wicklow. Between them, they put down six teams from above, with the Garden County also taking Westmeath to extra time, while Sligo accounted for Tipperary.

Of course it’s not like that every year. Limerick were the only side to play the role of cheeky upstart in 2012 as they beat Longford, from a tier above, and agonisingly lost in extra time to Kildare after allowing the Lilywhites a late leveller in normal time.

Chances are that the strongest will survive, but there is hope for the underdogs.

DIVISION 4 AGAINST SIDES IN HIGHER TIER 2009-12 (DRAWS IN ITALICS)
2012
Limerick (D4) beat Longford (D3) — Limerick 1-21 Longford 1-15 (AET)
Limerick (D4) lost to Kildare (D2) — Limerick 0-12 Kildare 0-19 (AET) 

2011
Wicklow (D4) beat Sligo (D2) — Wicklow 1-18 Sligo 0-16
Leitrim (D4) beat Sligo (D2) — Leitrim 1-10 Sligo 0-10
Longford (D4) beat Cavan (D3) — Longford 2-16 Cavan 0-11
Carlow (D34) beat Louth (D3) — Carlow 0-14 Louth 0-13
Wicklow drew in Armagh (D1) — Wicklow 2-13 Armagh 0-19 (AET)
London (D4) lost to Mayo (D1) — London 2-10 Mayo 0-19 (AET)

2010
Longford (D4) beat Mayo (D1) — Longford 1-12 Mayo 0-14
Clare (D4) lost to Offaly (D3) — Offaly 2-18 Clare 1-18 (AET) 

2009
Antrim (D4) beat Donegal (D1) — Antrim 1-10 Donegal 0-12
Antrim (D4) beat Cavan (D3) — Antrim 0-13 Cavan 1-7
Sligo (D4) beat Tipperary (D3) — Sligo 1-13 Tipperary 1-12
Wicklow (D4) beat Longford (D3) — Wicklow 2-12 Longford 1-13
Wicklow (D4) beat Fermanagh (D2) — Wicklow 0-17 Fermanagh 1-11
Wicklow (D4) beat Cavan (D3) — Wicklow 1-12 Cavan 0-8
Wicklow (D4) beat Down (D3) — Wicklow 1-15 Down 0-17
Wicklow (D4) lost to Westmeath (D1) — Wicklow 1-10 Westmeath 0-16 (AET) 

If you think you know your GAA, why not play our Weekly Quiz to win tickets to a match of your choice?