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Brendan Boyce takes Overall Donegal Sports Star Award

Olympic Race Walker Brendan Boyce is the 2021 Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner. The 35-year-old Milford native took the top award after his outstanding performance at the Olympic Games last August and then at the end of the year qualifying for the 2022 World Championships.

Boyce got the judges nod from a shortlist of six names that included League of Ireland Premier Division ‘Player of the Year’ Georgie Kelly; GAA All-Star Geraldine McLaughlin; apprentice jockey champion Dylan Browne McMonagle; Irish Olympic team manager Teresa McDaid and World Boxing Organisation’s North American middleweight champion Jason Quigley

In all 16 awards were announced by Donegal Sports Star Awards Media Officer Declan Kerr at the Mount Errigal Hotel as the show was presented virtually for the second year running. The only person that knew prior to the event he was getting an award was the 46th Hall of Fame inductee Eamon Giles from Cranford A.C. Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club stalwart Sadie Duffy took the Appreciation accolade while for a second time Dungloe man James Boyle was honoured in the Para-Athlete category.

In her address the Chairperson Grace Boyle remembered families that had lost loved ones during 2021 including two past Donegal Sports Star Awards Brid Carr (Table Tennis 1979 and 1980) and John Joe McAteer (Appreciation 2004).

The winners in the Team and Club categories were the Donegal Inter-County women’s athletic team and St. Eunan’s GAA Club. The women won a national cross-country title while Eunan’s landed five county adult titles plus an U21 success.

Jockey Dylan Browne-McMonagle’s magnificent year in the saddle was rewarded with a Sporting Acknowledgement accolade while Termon and Donegal GAA sharpshooter Geraldine McLaughlin took the Special Recognition category after finally being selected as an All-Star 12 years into her inter-county football career.

Young athlete Adrienne Gallen was the only person to bring home back-to-back awards as the 16-year-old Lifford-Strabane Club member was the judges choice in the Youth category after another huge year in the hammer event that saw the St. Columba’s Stranorlar student astonishingly twice set new Donegal senior records as well as medalling in Paris and then a stunning success at the Tailteann Games.

Letterkenny A.C. woman Teresa McDaid was named Coach-Manager of the Year in recognition of her role in guiding a 4x400m relay team to a final Tokyo and being the first woman to be in overall charge of an Irish Olympic team. Staying with the Olympic theme the Donegal Sports Star Awards committee honoured all the Olympians who have links to the county including Brendan Boyce, Eilish Flanagan, Mark English and Mona McSharry who all competed while Teresa McDaid was Irish team operations manager, Daniel Magee was Badminton Team Lead; Michael Black was triathlon coach while Dr. Sharon Madigan was the Head Nutritionist.

On the day he was completing his move to English League 1 side Rotherham Utd Burnfoot man Georgie Kelly was the winner in the Brendan McDaid Memorial Special Achievement category. It came after the 25-year-old enjoyed a super season in the League of Ireland Premier Division with Bohemians that culminated in him being named ‘Player of the Year’.

The two schools honoured in the 2021 Donegal Sports Star Awards were Dromore National School Killygordon and Gairmscoil Chú Uladh, Béal Átha Móir, An Chlochán . The Primary School Award went to Dromore for a wide range of sporting activities and their efforts on inclusivity of pupils regardless of their abilities. During the pandemic secondary school winners Gairmscoil Chu Uladh’s pupils were kept active by their Coiste Slainte who organised 300k and 500k walk/run challenges. The schools at Ballinamore and Dromore were being honoured for the first time by the Donegal Sports Star Awards committee.

Young Letterkenny jockey Dylan Browne-McMonagle’s fantastic flat racing season got the judge’s vote for the Sporting Acknowledgement category. McMonagle’s 46 winners saw him crowned Apprentice Jockey Champion and the 18-year-old rounded off an incredible year when Horse Racing Ireland chose him for the Emerging Talent Award.

Boxer Jason Quigley took the Professional Sports Achievement category after winning the World Boxing Organisation’s North American middleweight title. While there was huge disappointment for Jason in November when he suffered defeat in the WBO Middleweight title bout it was still an unbelievable journey from the Twin Towns to be in the ring in New Hampshire that night.

The Donegal Sports Star Awards committee honoured Finn Valley AC’s Brendan Boyce with the International Achievement Award before he was named the Overall Winner for 2021. 10th in the world in the gruelling 50km Race Walk at the Tokyo Olympics was a massive achievement for the Milford man and at the end of the year he adapted to the shorter 35k to qualify for both next year’s World and European Championships at the first attempt. Boyce was taking the Overall for second time having also won it in 2019 and he is the 13th athlete to take the top honour in Donegal sport.

For further information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to donegalsportsstarawards.ie or visit Facebook donegalsports.starawards and Twitter @DLsportstars.