Monthly Review

Donegal Sports Star Awards May Review
May success abroad for Donegal sport

The May Donegal Sports Star Awards review highlights a number of super international successes in swimming and athletics for the county. The Ballyshannon Marlins Club member Mona McSharry won three gold medals for Ireland at the World Schools Games in Morocco. The golds came in the team 4x100m Freestyle, 50m Breastroke and 4x100m Individual Medley Relay.

Also abroad Gortahork man Brian O’Domhnaill, a member of Finn Valley AC, won an individual silver in the 30k Walk and bronze in the team event for Ireland at the European Masters Championships in Alicante, Spain. And staying with athletics Brendan Boyce produced an excellent performance to finish 17th at the World Race Walking Team Championships in China.

On the national stage Lifford/Strabane athlete Brendan O’Donnell set a new personal best of 67.68m in the Men’s Hammer at the Leevale Open Sports in Cork. Also in May O’Donnell set a new record in the Senior Boys Hammer, throwing 63.32. at the Ulster Schools Final at the Antrim Forum. The following day at the same championships his club colleague Adrienne Gallen set a new record of 10.63m in the Minor Girls Shot Putt.

Meanwhile Martin McLucas, Pauric McKinney and Finbarr Gallagher were members of the first Inishowen AC team to win the National 10k Championship in Dublin. In motorsport on the first weekend in May, Donal Barrett and Manus Kelly, on their first outing of the season, had a super win at the Killarney Rally of the Lakes in their Subaru Impreza with 29 seconds to spare in the end over Bob Barrable and Damien Connolly in a Fiesta.

There were Irish titles for two Donegal female boxers during the month. Dunree ABC boxer Breda Collins won the 43ks title at the Irish Championships staged at Dublin’s National Stadium. And at the same venue Raphoe Boxing Club’s Leah Gallen won the Irish Junior 1 66kg Category.

On the first Sunday of the month Kilmacrennan lad Richard Kerr got his opening points on the board at the Supersport Championship in Oulton Park, UK. Then at the end of May Kilmacrennan’s Caolan Irwin finished sixth in the 600 BSB Championship race at Donington Park in the UK.

It was a good month for underage girls GAA with the Donegal U15 Girls winning the Ulster Football title after an easy 5-17 to 1-5 victory over Down at Drumragh. Then the Donegal U16 Ladies took a provincial title after a 4-10 to 0-5 victory over Cavan in Augher, Co. Tyrone. That was followed by the Donegal U14 Girls winning their Ulster Football Final thanks to a 3-11 to 2-9 victory over Tyrone in Omagh.

In American Football there was a third win in a row for the Donegal-Derry Vipers who moved top of the Irish American Football League 1 table after doing a demolition 27-0 job on the NI Razorbacks.

On the May Bank Holiday weekend City of Derry Spartans athlete Conor Bradley won the 22nd North West 10k in a time of 32.21, which was 18 seconds ahead of Letterkenny AC member Eoghan McGinley. Finn Valley AC’s Teresa Doherty was first across the line in the women’s section in a time of 36.16.

Locally Ramelton man Marty Lynch won the WAAR 2018 in time of 2.22.20 while Letterkenny AC’s Danny Mooney did a double at the Donegal Track & Field Championship at the Finn Valley Centre winning the 800m and 3000m finals. Danny McDaid’s legendary athletic achievements was honoured when the Glenswilly man was bestowed with the Freedom of Donegal at the County House in Lifford.

In snooker father and son Aidan and Sean Devenney suffered defeat at the National Snooker Finals at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow. Sean lost out 4-2 to Aaron Hill of Cork in the U18 Final while dad Aidan was defeated 4-1 by fellow North West Snooker Club member Johnny Connors in the last 16 of the Senior Championship.

In May three Donegal cyclists Ronan McLaughlin, Mitchell McLaughlin and Aaron McBride completed the grueling Ras Tailteann around Ireland

On the first Sunday of the month Rory Kavanagh’s Donegal U16s won the Buncrana Cup Final for the first time in five years with a narrow 1-13 to 1-12 win over Tyrone at the Scarvey Grounds in Buncrana.

On the May Bank Holiday Monday, Naomh Conaill took the Donegal Senior Gaeltacht title in Downings with a 1-13 to 3-6 win over Naomh Columba while Fanad Gaels proved to strong for hosts Na Dunaibh (0-13 to 0-6). On the Saturday, Glenfin defeated Termon in the Senior Ladies decider.

The Donegal Masters advanced in the championship thanks to a 1-12 to 1-8 victory over Monaghan in Clones and then overcame Cavan 2-21 to 0-10 at Coaliste Ailigh in Letterkenny.

In the middle of the month there was a disappointing exit for the Donegal Minors who lost 1-12 to 1-10 to Monaghan in an Ulster Football Championship Round 2 Qualifier. On the same day Donegal advanced to the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final after a very comfortable 2-20 to 1-15 win over Cavan at McCumhaill Park. And then on the last Sunday of May, Declan Bonner’s men booked their place in the provincial semi-final of after a 2-16 to 0-16 win over Derry at Celtic Park. On the same day the Donegal U20s impressed in a 2-11 to 0-10 victory over Cavan at Celtic Park with Niall O’Donnell scoring 1-12.

Three former Raphoe Royal & Prior students Luke Witherow, Alexander Tinney and Ben Wallace were named on the Irish U21 Hockey squad for a Four- Nation tournament in New York against Argentina, Brazil and the United States. Witherow and Wallace were named in the traveling party while Tinney was included as non-travelling reserve.

On the horseracing circuit Letterkenny teenager Dylan Browne-McMonagle got off to a blistering start in the local season with five wins at the first meeting in Porthall.

At the end of May Declan Boyle in a Fiesta WRC finished second and 34.6 seconds behind winner Josh Moffett in the Cavan Rally which was round three of the National Championships.

On the Rugby front Larissa Muldoon from the Twin Towns, a member of the Railway Union Club, won the Ladies Player of the Year at the Ulster Rugby Awards. And on the same night Letterkenny’s Conor McMenamin was named Youth Player of the Year.

For Finn Harps there was a good start to the May Bank Holiday weekend with victories on the Friday and Monday. Ollie Horgan’s men came from behind to defeat Drogheda Utd 2-1 on the Friday night thanks to goals from Keith Cowan and Ciaran O’Connor. Then on the Bank Holiday Monday a wonder late strike from Jesse Deevers saw Ollie Horgan’s men bag a big three points against Galway Utd. Harps followed that up by managing a decent 0-0 draw against Shelbourne at Tolka Park. However, after a five-game unbeaten run Horgan’s outfit slumped to a poor 1-0 defeat against Cobh Ramblers in Ballybofey. Then on the last Friday of the month a late equalizer denied Harps a win against Wexford Youths at Ferrycarraig Park after Paddy McCourt had given the visitors the lead from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.

At the start of the month Fanad Youths completed a double by defeating Letterkenny Rovers 1-0 thanks a very late extra-time winner from Keelan McGroddy at the Moss in Drumoghill to retain the Colin Breslin Memorial Cup title. A late Luke McCarry goal gave Dunfanaghy Youths an historic first Donegal title at this age-group as Danny Ferry’s boys defeated Swilly Rovers 1-0 in the John ‘Gorey’ Curran Memorial Cup Final at the Dry Arch.

Kildrum Tigers were crowned Donegal Junior League Premier Division champions for the first time in 17 years after a 1-1 draw against title Castlefin Celtic in St. Johnston. A fortnight later the St. Johnston outfit completed the double after overcoming Kilmacrennan Celtic in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in the Brian McCormick Cup Final at the Dry Arch. Kilmac had taken an early 2-0 lead but the Premier Division champions came back to force extra-time before taking the title.

In the middle of May Letterkenny Rovers retained the Knockalla Caravans Senior Cup title with a 2-1 win over Cockhill Celtic coming from behind with goals from Declan Sharkey and Ryan Lonergan. On the same day Glengad Utd clinched their fourth Inishowen Premier Division title in a row after a 1-0 away win over Aileach FC. However, there was revenge and some consolation for Aileach on the last Sunday of May when they won the Buncrana Credit Union Cup Final after 1-0 victory over Glengad thanks to a first half Darren McMonagle goal.

In May there was disappointment for Leitirmacaward’s Carl McHugh who was captain of the Motherwell side were beaten 2-0 by Celtic in the Scottish Cup Final.
Donegal Sports Star Awards April Review
Success in soccer, swimming, athletics and motorsport headline the Donegal Sports Star Awards April review.

It was especially a good month for women and will surely live long in the memory of Milford’s Amber Barrett who scored that dramatic late goal to help the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s side to a 2-1 win over Slovakia in the first of a double header of World Cup qualifiers at the Tallaght Stadium. However, there was disappointment for Barrett four nights later as Colin Bell’s team lost 2-0 to the European Champions the Netherlands at the same venue in front of a record attendance of 4,047. Barrett was then shortlisted for the first Women’s National League Player of the Month award of 2018. The 22-year-old had also enjoyed a great start to the season with Peamount United where she had been in superb scoring. The NUI Maynooth student scored seven times in four games including a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Kilkenny.

Another young woman who enjoyed big success in April was Marlins Ballyshanon Swimming Club member Mona McSharry who won three gold and a bronze medal at the Irish Championships in Dublin. McSharry’s golds came in the 50m Freestyle where she set a new Irish record along with 50m and 100m breastroke while bronze came in the 200m breastroke.

In athletics a very strong Letterkenny AC Male Masters M35-49 team, comprising Raymond Birch, Karol Duggan and Ciaran Doherty, returned from the National Road Relays in Raheny, Dublin with silver medals. They were deprived of gold by only a fraction of a second. At the same championships the Finn Valley AC Masters Ladies team including Teresa Doherty, Marie Harvey and Catriona Devine won the Over-35 race. And the FV team of Kay Byrne, Noreen Martin and Mary Hippsley took silver in the O50 category.

The all conquering women of Letterkenny Athletic Club enjoyed a hugely successful day in Omagh. They achieved outstanding individual and team results in the Omagh Half Marathon. Annmarie McGlynn was an impressive winner of the women’s race in 1.14.28. In the process, she eclipsed the course record, which had stood for 18 years. Nakita Burke had an excellent half marathon debut by claiming second place in 1.21.17. A fine run of 1.37.28 by Shauna McGeehan ensured first prize in the team event. The three LAC ladies garnered 33 points, leaving them a comfortable 27 points clear of the second team, Armagh AC.

Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club member Karen Crawford won gold in the 800m event and silver in the 400 metres at the Irish Masters Long Course Swim Championships in Limerick.

Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky finished 10th in the final of the High Jump at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. The 17-year-old Castlederg girl jumped 1.80m in front of 40,000 spectators at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. Lecky’s jump was just short of the 1.83 which won her gold in last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games. Her club mate Dempsey McGuigan finished 5th in the hammer last weekend.

Also at the Commonwealth Games, Raphoe’s Rachael Darragh won her Round of 64 match in the Women’s Singles at the Carrara Sports Arena by 2 sets to nil win against Cameroon’s Stella Ngadjui (21-6, 21-3). However Darragh was subsequently beaten by Malaysian Soniia Cheah in the next round on the Gold Coast. Darragh and Sinead Chambers also lost to Cheah and Jemie Shevon Lai in the women’s doubles last 16 (21-19 21-7).

There was also disappointment for Letterkenny’s Stephen McMonagle at the Commonwealth Games. missing out on a bronze medal after losing to New Zealander Patrick Mailata.

In early April Donagh Kelly in a Ford Focus WRC won the Circuit of Kerry. It was round two of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship and the Frosses man finished 16.4 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta WRC of another Donegal man, Declan Boyle from Leitirmacaward. Muff driver Joseph McGonigle finished fourth position. Then at the end of the month Kelly and Conor Foley won the Monaghan Stages Rally in their Ford Focus with just 1.8 seconds to spare over Sam Moffett and Karl Atkinson in a Ford Fiesta R5.

Dunfanaghy Boxing Club’s Bernie McDonagh won the second Irish boxing title of his career at the National Stadium in Dublin. Bernie overcame Che Devine from Oliver Plunkett Club in Belfast in the semi final and Donnacha Sayers from Cashel Vale Munster in the decider in the Boy 3 44kgs category. There was also a national title for Shane McConigley from the Letterkenny Boxing Club who defeated Rathkeale’s Mark Moore-Long at the National Stadium in Dublin in the Boy 1 52kgs section.

The Donegal Town U16 Girls Basketball team won the Division 2 national title after three victories at the All-Ireland Club Championships weekend.

In the middle of the month Ramelton’s Marty Lynch created history by becoming the first man to win ‘The Race’ in two successive years and in a record time. He is also the only person to have won 255km endurance event twice. Lynch’s time was 13 hours, 32 minutes and 26 seconds.

The boys from PCC Falcarragh produced a remarkable fightback to win the FAI Schools Minor B Boys National Cup Final at IT Sligo. PCC were 2-0 down against Coola Post Primary School when their captain Blake McGarvey showed the ultimate leadership by scoring twice to draw PCC level with their opponents. And then to round of a really memorable day for the Falcarragh school Paul Johnston got the winner just past the hour mark to secure the national title. There was also success for Carndonagh Community School who won the Dr. Tony O’Neill Senior Boys Cup Final.

Over 650 completed a very successful Run Donegal Women’s 5k which took place in the Twin Towns. It was the 12th staging of the charity event based at the Finn Valley Centre and was held in memory of Lisa McGranaghan a married mother of two who died from cancer two years ago. Catriona Devine was the winner in a time of 19 minutes and four seconds. Young Ramelton athlete Shane Irwin ran a fantastic 200 metres tin France. The LYIT student set a new Personal Best of 22.1 having run 22.9 last year.
Shane dropped down to the 200m event to improve his speed for his more regular 400m distance later in the season.

In snooker Ronan Whyte defeated his North West Snooker Club colleague Sean Devenney 3-0 in the first ever all Donegal RIBSA U-18 qualification ranking final which took place in the Ivy Rooms Snooker Club in Carlow.
Meanwhile Devenney secured his place in the U18 National Snooker Final after defeating his North West Club colleague Whyte 3-2 also at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.

On the GAA front here was to be no National League semi-final spot for the Donegal Ladies despite their big 4-11 to 2-3 win over Cork in Ballybofey. That’s because other results on that weekend didn’t go in their favour. In the middle of April the Donegal U17s suffered a disappointing 2-21 to 1-12 defeat at the hands of Monaghan in the Jim McGuigan Cup Final at Drumragh. The Minors also suffered a heavy 5-12 to 1-10 defeat by Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster Championship at McCumhaill Park.

Kilcar’s Paddy McBrearty was named on the first ever GAA Club Players’ football team of the championship. The Donegal U16s booked their place in the Buncrana Cup Final with a big 4-10 to 0-8 win over Monaghan at the O’Donnell Park. St. Eunan’s College won the Ulster Schools Treanor Cup title (U15 and a half) after defeating St. Louis Grammar, Ballymena in Colraine by 0-7 to 1-2.

In Martial Arts there was medal success for the North West Shotokan Karate Club at the 19th Annual Rising Sun Karate Championships in Cork. There was gold for Lucas McColgan, Elaine Dullaghan and Ciara Dullaghan. Elaine also took two silvers. Lucas won a silver also. Rebecca picked up a bronze. The three girls also won silver I the mixed Senior Team Kate.

On the first days of April Kilmacrennan brothers Rhys and Caolan Irwin were both in motorbike action at Donington Park. Rhys underwent a testing first weekend in the all new British Talent Cup as the championship joined the British Superbike Championship for its 2018 season opener. Despite a tough weekend the 15-year-old left the Derbyshire venue feeling confident having been third quickest in free practice before mechanical issues upset his championship debut.

Meanwhile, beginning his first full season in the highly competitive category for standard 600cc machines, Rhys’s brother Caolán Irwin put in a brilliant performance in the race to climb from 19th on the starting grid to take tenth place at the flag and outstrip the teams expectations for their maiden weekend at the highest level of British Motorcycle Racing. The Irwins brothers followed that up as both finished eighth in their respective categories after competing at the British Superbike Championships at Brands Hatch. Caolán then had a hat-trick of runner up places at Mondello Park in the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship riding in the Supersport Pro class.

Motiv 8 Powerlifting Gym member John McHugh won the Best Lifter of the Day at the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting National Championships in Dublin.

Finn Harps made their exit from EA Sports Cup on Bank Holiday Monday evening in Ballybofey after local rivals Derry City came back from a goal down to secure their spot in the third round draw with a 2-1 win. Skipper Ciaran Coll had put Harps in front on 11 minutes. In the league and despite performing well Harps lost 3-2 to UCD at Belfield in the League of Ireland First Division. Burnfoot man Georgie Kelly grabbed a super hat-trick for the Students. A week later there was a much better result as for the second successive game Sam Todd scored for Ollie Horgan’s side to grind out a 1-0 victory over Cabinteely in Ballybofey. On the last Friday in April Todd’s rich scoring streak contnued, this time against Longford Town as the Carndonagh man’s 91st minute gave Finn Harps a crucial three points in the Midlands in what was a very fortunate 2-1 victory.

Meanwhile Harps underage players Patrick McGarvey and Fionnan Coyle both featured for the Republic of Ireland U15s against the Czech Republic.

For the second year in a row Fanad United Youths were crowened Dick Duffy Memorial league champions after Niall Doherty’s side secured the title when they defeated Kilmacrennan Celtic in a hugely entertaining game in Traighalough. Milford lad Conor McHugh proved to be the match winner as the midfielder scored twice which included the goal that clinched the title just past the midway point of the second half.

Hopes of reaching the FAI Intermediate Cup Final for the second time in three years came to a very disappointing end for Letterkenny Rovers as Eamonn McConigley’s outfit lost 2-0 to Firhouse Clover in Dublin. It was a semi-final replay after Rovers had failed to take advantage of Leckview Park a fortnight to book their place in the decider. Rovers also made a disappointing exit from the FAI Senior Cup losing 1-0 to CIE Ranch in Dublin.

The Inishowen League’s run in the Oscar Traynor Cup competition ended at the Kells Road Astro pitch in Kilkenny. Early goals in both halves by winger Emmet Nugent sent the Kilkenny League through to the last four and ended Inishowen’s hopes of another Oscar Traynor victory.

There was huge disappointment also for the Letterkenny Rovers U15 who went down 3-1 to favourites St. Kevin’s Boys in a SFAI National Cup semi-final. A controversial late penalty put St. Kevin’s 2-1 in front and on their way to the final. Rathmullan’s Adrian Delap got another significant career boost when he made his debut for the Ireland Colleges and Universities side coming on for the second half in the 1-0 friendly win over Scotland at Oriel Park.

Although missing through suspension himself Carl McHugh’s Motherwell still secured their place in the Scottish Cup Final thanks to a 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Hampden Park. In the middle of April there was penalty heartache for the Donegal Women’s League U18 side who lost 6-5 on penalties to the Metropolitan League from Dublin in the Inter-league Cup Final which had 1-1 after extra-time.

There was a very special night for Lifford native Shay Given who received the ‘Donegal Person of the Year’ award at a gala dinner in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin.

Inishowen man Stephen McLaughlin was one of the scorers for Southend Utd who had a 4-0 victory over MK Dons in an English League One game. And on the last Monday of the month Donegal Town’s Jack Keaney scored his first senior League of Ireland goal as Sligo Rovers recorded a 2-1 Premier Division win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.

There was huge disappointment for PCC Falcarragh who missed out on a place in the FAI Schools Senior ‘B’ Boys National Final. After the semi-final had been scoreless at half-time against Greenan College, Thomastown in Gortakeegan, PCC took a 2-0 lead through Carlos O’Reilly and Ultan Boyle. However, Greenan came back to draw level and then got a 90th minute winner. There was heartache also for Scoil Mhuire U15s who suffered a 3-0 defeat against Claregalway College in the FAI Schools Minor National Final at McSharry Park in Sligo.

Carndonagh Community School’s Kieran Farren and Daniel Houghton started for the Republic of Ireland Schools team that won the International Centenary Shield after overcoming Scotland 3-1 at Home Farm FC in Dublin. Houghton saved a penalty in the second half. St. Eunan’s College pupil James Carolan was also a squad member which was managed by Cockhill Celtic player and Finn Harps coach William O’Connor. Milford’s Mickey McGlynn was the Irish physio while Harps manager Ollie Horgan is on the coaching staff.

Donegal Sports Star Awards March Review
Memorable March for Donegal Sport

The Donegal Sports Star Awards March review reveals an impressive array of successes for the county at home and abroad. Once again Ballyshannon Marlins Swimming Club member Mona McSharry hit the headlines after setting another Irish record in the 50m breastroke at the Edinburgh International Meeting in a time of 30.87 seconds.

Also abroad on the last day of March Jason Quigley made a winning return to the ring in Boston by stopping Daniel Rosario in the sixth round. Also in the ring at national level Letterkenny IT student Matthew McCole took gold in the Elite 64kg category on a unanimous decision at the Irish Third Level Boxing Championships Finals defeating Sean Gallagher from Trinity College Dublin. Another LYIT student Danny Boyle took the Senior Novice 75kg title by overcoming Waterford IT’s Paul Fitzgibbon inside the distance. Dylan Browne-McMonagle and Paddy McShane members of Letterkenny ABC took Irish juvenile boxing titles at the National Stadium in Dublin. McShane was successful in the Boy 4 category. Browne-McMonagle who was also a winner in Boy 4 is a talented sports boy having also excelled as a jockey over the past couple of years.

It was a good month for two Donegal rally crews. First Declan Boyle and co-driver James O’Reilly made the perfect start to the season by winning the opening round of the National Rally Championship in Mayo. Boyle and O’Reilly led the nine stage Mayo Rally from start to finish. Just a week later Donagh Kelly won the West Cork Rally for a fifth successive year. Kelly and his co-driver Conor Foley also led from start to finish.

There was a big boost men’s rugby in Donegal as Letterkenny lad Joe Dunleavy turned in an impressive performance on his Irish U20 debut in a super Six Nations Championship 30-25 win over Scotland at Donnybrook. A week later Dunleavy made his second international appearance but it ended in defeat at the Irish U20s lost to England at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
March was also good for the LYIT as their ladies basketball team won the Division 2 national final thanks to a narrow 94-92 win over Griffith College at Inchicore in Dublin. And the LYIT Ladies soccer side won the national O’Regan Intervarsities Shield title after a 2-0 win over the Garda College in Limerick. Player of the Match Zoe Green and Zoe McGlynn were the goalscorers.

Carndonagh C.S. pupil Erin Fildara and Kerry Brown from Moville C.S. both came on as second half subs for the Republic of Ireland U15 Schools side that the retained the international John Read Trophy thanks to a 3-0 win over England. Fildara got the third goal to make sure of the title. In the middle of the month Moville Community School won the FAI Junior Girls National Cup Final by overcoming Galway’s Coaliste Bhaile Chlair (Claregalway) 2-1 in the decider.

In athletics Letterkenny AC’s Nakita Burke’s phenomenal improvement continued in Belfast in the Deep River Rock Queen’s 5k. Nakita earned a new PB of almost 20 seconds and her first sub 17 minute 5k in an excellent time of 16.45. She was the second woman with only Newcastle and District AC’s Kerry O’Flaherty ahead of her. There was disappointment for Glenfin lad Odhran McGlynn who suffered defeat in the U17 All-Ireland Final.

Four Inishowen men were medal winners at the World Tug of War Championships in China. Carn’s Gerard Porter won double gold in the 560kgs category for his club St. Pat’s Louth and Ireland. Another St. Pat’s member Shaun Doherty from Clonmany also won gold in the 680kg category. There was bronze for Doherty and two other Clonmany men Dan Harkin and Andrew McGonigle in the 680kg category.

On the last Sunday in March the Donegal/Derry Vipers got their American Football season off to a winning start away to Westmeath Minotaurs on a final score of 22-7.

The Mulroy Hoops U14 Boys Basketball team won the NWB U14 League Play-off title defeating Belfast Star in Ray. It was a good month for the Mulroy Hoops Club as their U14 Girls side reached the NWB League Final for the first time ever.

In Cue Sports, Northwest Snooker Club Letterkenny members Sean Devenney and Johnny Connors won the NSASA Eamonn Casson Memorial Cup at the AOH Club in Derry by overcoming the CYMS pair of Phelim McClafferty and Gareth Kirwin. Four Donegal players the Hegarty sisters Ciara and Niamh along with Yvonne Bonner and Karen Guthrie were members of the 2016 and 2017 TG4 Ladies Football All-Stars who played in Bangkok over the St. Patrick’s weekend.

On the last day of March and despite defeat in a high scoring clash with Mayo in Swinford (5-14 to 4-12) the Donegal senior ladies side were still in with a chance of making the semi-final stages of the National Football League Division. A week earlier the side managed by Maxi Curran Damian Devaney kept themsleves in the frame for the knockout stages after a massive 20-point win over a very disappointing Kerry side in Ballybofey (6-11 to 0-9). There were two goals each for Yvonne Bonner and Ciara Grant while Karen Guthrie and Sarah Jane McDonald also found the back of the net.

There was bitter disappointment for St. Eunan’s College who lost out by a single point to Holy Trinity, Cookstown in the McLarnon Cup replay at Celtic Park in Derry after extra-time (2-8 to 0-13). And it was a similar story for Coaliste Ailigh, Letterkenny who lost 2-14 to 4-9 to St. Cuan’s Castleblaney Coolooney, Sligo in their first ever All-Ireland Final appearance.

The Donegal U17s had an easy 2-17 to 1-9 victory over Fermanagh in the Ulster League at McCumhaill Park. And the Donegal U16s were comfortable winners over Down in Saval in their opening Buncrana Cup game (0-22 to 2-3).

The reality of Division 2 football won’t really hit home till early next year but that’s where Donegal will be after being relegated at McCumhaill Park when Mayo came from three points down to secure their place in the top flight for the 21st successive year (0-13 each). Saturday 10th March. Earlier in the month Declan Bonner’s men suffered defeats against Tyrone 2-13 to 1-10 at Healy Park in Omagh and went down by six points against Monaghan in Clones (1-16 to 1-10).

In hurling two Declan Coulter goals helped gave the Donegal senior hurlers a 2-17 to 1-17 win over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds to secure Mickey McCann’s side a place in Division 2B for a second successive year. It was the first time that Donegal has managed to achieve that objective.

On the first Saturday in March, Seamus Coleman made his 250th club appearance for Everton but it ended in a 2-1 defeat to Burnley.

A spectacular late Carl McHugh strike helped his side Motherwell to secure a 2-1 win over Hearts in a Scottish FA Cup quarter-final tie.

March was good for Donegal lads Conor Blaney, Timmy Govorov and Jason Quinn who were members of the IT Sligo squad that won the CFAI Plate Final by overcoming GMIT Galway 3-1. And the same trio were members of the IT Sligo squad that defeated Limerick IT 2-1 in the Intervarsities Division 1 Final in Limerick.

Finn Harps finally kicked off their new League of Ireland First Division season with a 1-1 draw against Shelbourne in Ballybofey. Harps followed that up on the Monday night with a narrow 4-3 win in the end against the Mayo League in the EA Sports Cup. Ollie Horgan’s men had led 4-0 until the hour mark. On St. Patrick’s evening late goals from John O’Flynn and Ciaran O’Connor gave Harps an excellent 2-0 win over Cobh Ramblers at St. Patrick’s Park.

Two controversial calls by referee Robert Harvey were the defining moments as Ollie Horgan’s side lost for the first time this season away to Drogheda Utd. The two decisions came in the opening half-hour of the rescheduled First Division fixture that ended 2-0 in favour of the hosts. Despite having long spells of domination Harps had to settle for a share of the spoils away to Athlone Town (1-1) who managed their first point of the SSE Airtricity League Division One campaign after losing their opening four games of the campaign.

The Letterkenny Rovers U15s booked their place in the semi-finals of the SFAI National Cup after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over Crumlin Utd at Leckview Park. The chances of Letterkenny Rovers making the FAI Intermediate Cup Final for the second time in three years were dealt a big blow at Leckview Park as Eamonn McConigley’s side were held to a draw by Dublin outfit Firhouse Clover.

Letterkenny 24/7s John Conaghan was first in the M55-59 category in the Tri122 Lanzarote International.

In Secondary Schools sport Carndonagh Community School won their first ever Ulster Markey Cup title getting the better of St. Columba’s College Stranorlar in an all Donegal final at the O’Donnell Park, Letterkenny (3-8 to 1-10).

Donegal Sports Star Awards February 2018 review
There was no shortage of sporting success for Donegal in February with big achievements in GAA, swimming, triathlon, soccer, darts, horseracing, endurance cycling, athletics and snooker. On the last weekend of the month Ramelton man Paddy Bond took a gold and silver at the International Ice Swimming Association GB Championships in Leeds. Paddy was first in the M35-39 1k swim category and second overall in the 50 Fly.

On the first day of February, Laura Dugera scored twice as Mulroy College Milford retained their FAIS Senior ‘B’ National Girls title after a 2-0 win over Midleton College from Cork. One of their students who had to miss out on that success was Swilly Rovers player Catherine Grier who scored for English club Doncaster in the semi finals of the Champions League Deaf Futsal. However, it was to end in disappointment for the Ramelton girls as they lost out to 7-5 to Polish outfit Warsaw in a remarkable game.

In darts Donegal did the treble at the West Coast Challenge in Castlebar with their senior men and women taking titles along with the youth team. It was a fabulous February for Trentagh native Martin Harley who first rode Thaqaffa to victory for the third time in 2018 as he steered the Amy Murphy-trained five-year-old to a win at Kempton Park in the Matchbook Casino Handicap. A couple of days later he followed that up by steering Author’s Dream to victory in the Betway Casino Handicap at Lingfield Park. Next up Harley rode Inn The Bull to victory at Wolverhampton. Harley took the win on the 3/1 shot, trained by Alan King, in the Betway Casino Handicap.

On the last Monday of the month Harley super start in the saddle continued at Wolverhampton on as the Trentagh man completed a spectacular treble to bring him past the 20- winner mark for the season. His first win was on the 11/10 favourite Ty Rock Brandy for trainer Lee Smyth. Harley’s second win was on another favourite Inn The Bull at 6/4 for trainer Alan King. Rae Guest’s Midnightly completed the treble which came home at 12/1.

Letterkenny man Jason Black completed the mammoth 1,000km cycle race in the Middle East. The incredibly challenging event took place in Oman and was Black’s first attempt at a solo unsupported race.

At the beginning of February in athletics Finn Valley AC’s Dempsey McGuigan set a new Donegal record in the hammer throw, as well as a new PB and University Best in Illionois, USA. McGuigan threw the 35lb weight a distance of 21.22m. Nationally Karl Griffin returned from injury to win the 800m at the Athletics Ireland Indoor Championships in Abbottstown in a time of 1.50.31. A couple of weeks later Griffin was back on the podium as runner-up to fellow Donegal man Mark English in the 800m Final at the National Indoors in Abbottstown. Finn Valley’s John Kelly took silver in the Shot Putt while club colleague Sommer Lecky won the High Jump title. Letterkenny AC’s Danny Mooney won the 1,500m event at the Athletics Ireland Indoor Championships in Abbottstown in a time of 3.51.71.

On the first Saturday in February another Letterkenny AC member Nakita Burke continued her fine winter form finishing second overall in the Omagh 5k and first woman home in a time of 17.36.
Burke’s success continued six days later as she finished second at the National Intermediate Championships in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway. The Donegal Ladies took bronze in the Inter-County race while Letterkenny AC were runners-up in the O35 team event.

Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky won the High Jump at the IFAM International event in Belgium, clearing 1.86m in her first attempt to take the title. Letterkenny AC’s Catriona Jennings broke her own Irish record as she won the National 50k Championship title in Kildare. Amy Greene of Rosses AC won the Girls U15 event at the Irish Intermediate, Masters and Juvenile Cross-Country Championships in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway.

Meanwhile, Mark English had to settle for second place in an 800m race during the AIT Grand Prix in Athlone. The Letterkenny man’s time was 1.47.48 just behind Spaniard Kevin Lopez (1.47.43).

On the last weekend of the month Letterkenny 24/7 member Christine Russell was third female home overall at the Naas Duathlon in a time of 1.03.23. It also gave her second place in the Intervarsity Championship representing NUI Galway. Fellow Letterkenny 24/7 member Orlaith Fogarty was first in the 20-24 age category and 19th overall female in Naas.

In rugby Ballybofey’s Laura Feely made her competitive Ireland debut as last sub but it ended in defeat 24-0 to France at the Stade Ernest Wallon. Feely also made a couple of more appearances from the bench.

Ardara’s Ronan Whyte fine run in the European Individual U18 Championships in Bulgaria came to an end at the last 16 stage of the competition when he lost 3-0 to England’s Sean McAllister. Then in Carlow, Ronan lost 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the qualifiers for the World U18 Championships. His North West Snooker Club colleague Sean Devenney lost out in the final 3-1.

In the middle of February Donegal were crowned McKenna Cup champions after a well deserved 1-16 to 1-12 win over Tyrone at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh with the help of a first half Martin McElhinney goal. Three Cian Mulligan goals helped Gweedore to take the Ulster U21 Club Championship title after a big win over Lavey on a score of 4-7 to 0-6. It was the first time for a Donegal club to win the title.

History was made at the Garvaghy Centre of Excellence when Coaliste Ailigh Letterkenny won a senior schools GAA title for the first time ever after defeating Ballybay Community School from Monaghan by 3-12 to 2-10 in the final.

There was success for the Glenfin Club at the Ulster Juvenile Championships held in Saval, Co. Down. In the Girls U13 Doubles there was victory for Aibhe McMenamin and Katelyn Houston while Caoimhe McGlynn was runner up in the U15 Singles Final. In the U17 Boys Singles Odhran McGlynn was crowned Ulster champion.

On the last Saturday in February LYIT Donegal basketball men’s team put themselves in the frame for a league play-off place after a 108-81 win over the Galway Titans

In boxing there was a quarter-final defeat for Dungloe B.C.’s Matthew McCole at the Irish Elite Championship Finals at the National Stadium going down 5-0 to Wayne Kelly of Portlaoise in the 64kgs category.

Donegal’s poor start to the Division 1 league campaign continued as Declan Bonner’s men went down by a point in Division this time to Galway at the O’Donnell Park (1-12 to 0-14). Six days later and despite a gallant performance Donegal suffered their third successive loss in the league this time to Dublin Croke Park (0-20 to 0-15). However on the last Sunday in February the first league points were finally secured but it was a struggle against a Kildare side that played with 14 men from the 15th minute at Fr. Tierney Park in Ballyshannon (1-15 to 3-7).

After the opening round defeat to Dublin it was a late Yvonne Bonner free that got the Donegal ladies 1-13 Galway 0-16 draw against Galway in a Division 1 game in Glenfin. The side managed by Maxi Curran and Damian Devaney did a demolition job on Westmeath in a rearranged Division 1 league fixture played in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh. Donegal won by 9-17 to 1-5 with Yvonne Bonner scoring 3-6. The Ladies virtually made sure of their Division 1 status for next season after a 1-7 to 1-4 win over Monaghan in Clones.

Mya Alcorn (Loreto Convent Letterkenny), Shannon McLaughlin (Coaliste Ailigh Letterkenny) and Sarah Harkin (St. Columba’s Comprehensive, Glenties) were presented with Ulster Colleges All-Star Awards in Kellys Inn, Garvaghey.

The Donegal senior hurlers made history at the O’Donnell Park by defeating Down for first time ever by 0-17 to 0-14 in Division 2B.

At the start of the month there was huge morale boosting 14-point win for Donegal in Division 2B of the National Hurling League. Mickey McCann’s men defeated Derry by 4-17 to 2-09 at the O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny. Donegal came back all guns blazing after losing to Mayo in the league opener the previous week with the goals coming from David Coulter with two, Bernard Lafferty and Ronan McDermott while Lee Henderson scored six points. But that was followed by a 2-21 to 0-21 loss to Wicklow in Aughrim.

There was a good weekend for Donegal motorsport at the Birr Stages Rally where Donagh Kelly and Conor Foley were second in their Ford Fiesta WRC with Declan Boyle and Conor O’Reilly third also in a Ford Fiesta WRC while Joseph McGonagle and Ciaran Geaney finished fourth in their BMW Mini WRC.

Former Letterkenny underage rugby player Justin Allen is really looking forward to huge career move in the USA. The 22-year-old signed a two-year professional contract with the Houston SaberCats Club in the USA at Christmas time. The 6’11’, 250-pound lock is in training now for the inaugural 2018 Major League Rugby season.

Inishowen man Georgie Kelly helped UCD to win the Collingwood Cup final. Kelly had scored in the 2-0 semi-final win over DCU having netted twice in the 3-0 victory over Maynooth.

In the middle of the month Gweedore’s Marc Walsh started for the Republic of Ireland U17s in a 1-1 friendly draw against Turkey at Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway. Walsh is on the books of English Premiership side Swansea City.

Barry McNamee scored the very first goal of the new League of Ireland Premier Division season when he put Cork City ahead in the third minute against St Patrick’s Athletic at Inchicore on Friday night. The Ramelton man had also scored in the President’s Cup Final the previous weekend. Cork won Friday night’s game 3-2.

Letterkenny Rovers U15s secured their place in the SFAI National Cup quarter finals after a well deserved 1-0 win over Mervue Utd in a scrappy encounter at the Aura Centre with Sean McVeigh getting the goal just before the interval.

Despite losing 2-0 to group toppers Mayo the Donegal Youth League qualified as runners-up for the knockout stages of the FAI Inter-League competition. On the last Sunday in February and for the second time in three years Letterkenny booked their place in the semi-finals of the FAI Intermediate Cup after Darren McElwaine’s brace gave Eamonn McConigley’s side a 2-0 win over Dublin outfit Home Farm at Leckview Park.

The Carndonagh team took silver at the British and Irish Tug-o-war Championships in Enniskillen in the 620kg category.

At the start of February, Colaiste Ailigh, Letterkenny had a 5-2 win over Crana College, Buncrana at Whitestrand to win the Ulster Junior B Girls Final. It was a fine performance from Keith Cowan’s side. There was an Ulster double for Moville Community School who won both the Senior and U17 FAI Schools provincial soccer titles.
Donegal Sports Star Awards January 2018 review
Magical month for martial arts
The Donegal Sports Star Awards January review reveals super start to the new year for the county at national and international level. It was an especially good month for martial arts where the three men won gold medals at the European Jiu Jitsu Games in Lisbon. Two Carrigart men got on to the podium with Paul McHugh and Liam McBride winning gold medals in the novice section. Convoy’s TJ McMenamin claimed a gold in the Blue Belt Masters Division in Portugal while Emma Dolan from the Three Rivers Shotokan Club was a brilliant second at the Ishoj Karate Cup in Copenhagen.

Danny Ryan continued where he left off last year winning two gold medals at the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships at the UL Sports Arena on the University of Limerick campus. The former Irish boxing champion was first in the 2 km 40-49 age-group and then won the 500m Open Men category. And Ryan also achieved a new Irish record in the 40-49 age category in the 500m event.

January was also good for darts with Buncrana man Sean Wilson winning the Irish National Organisation’s singles title. He defeated Michael Meeney of Kilkenny 3-2 in the final and Sean qualified to play in the British Darts Organisation tournament, the Winmau World Masters and also the Lakeside World Championship Qualifiers. There was also a big snooker success for the CYMS Letterkenny team who were crowned All-Ireland champions. The team included Gareth Kirwan, Phelim McClafferty, Adrian McFadden, Chris Dolan and Chris Gibbons.

Motorsport crew Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett will forever remember Friday the 26th of January when they were crowned Overall winners at the Donegal Sports Star Awards after their superb success in retaining the Donegal International Rally event last June. Kilmacrennan’s Richard Kerr won the ‘Young Rider of the Year’ at the Motorbike Awards in Bangor. The awards recognize the achievements of Ireland’s top riders at home and abroad. Kerr also confirmed that he will switch to the Dickies British Supersport class for the new motorcycling season and will ride on the Campbell Motor Sport Triumph Daytona 675R. The 17-year-old had been competing in the MotoStar British Championship Moto 3 class over the past three years.
For the second successive year Mulroy College Milford were crowned All-Ireland Senior ‘B’ Girls champions after a great 2-0 win against Cork side Midleton at the Home Farm grounds in Dublin. Laura Dugera was the star of the show as her two goals secured the title for Maria Ryan’s side. There was big news for young Letterkenny lad Shane Blaney who made the move from Finn Harps to Doncaster Rovers.

Staying with soccer St. Johnston’s Tyler Toland played the full game as the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team defeated Portugal 3-1 in an international friendly. Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin came on as a late sub while also in the Irish squad were Milford’s Amber Barrett and Amy Boyle-Carr from Glenties. Toland and Barrett had both played on the previous Thursday when the ROI women lost 1-0. Then after returning home from Portugal McLaughlin was named ‘Player of the Tournament’ as IT Carlow won their third successive CUFL Women’s Futsal Cup at the WIT Arena. McLaughlin fired home four goals in the three games on the way to Carlow lifting the national title.

January was good for Trentagh jockey Martin Harley who had winners on Author’s Dream at the Betway Stayers Handicap at Lingfield and then at Kempton Park on the 11/2 backed Thaqaffa in the 32Red Casino Handicap.

In athletics the good form of Letterkenny AC’s Karol Duggan continued as he finished 20th at the IAAF Antrim International Cross-Country Championships. Meanwhile, two other young LAC athletes Matthew Johnston and Donal Farren were members of the Ulster U20 team in Antrim while Glenswilly lad Sean McGinley, a member of the Derry Olympian Club was on the province’s U17 team. And Donegal representation was completed by Teresa McDaid of LAC who was manager of the Irish team while Finn Valley’s Neil Martin was in the charge of the U17s. Farren and McGinley were also selected to run for the Ulster and Northern Ireland team at the UK Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, which take place at Loughborough in March. Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver was second in the O35 category and the LAC men’s team took gold at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Cross-Country Championships in Belfast. Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn won the five mile Raheny 5 in a time of 26.44.

At the start of January there was big news for Finn Valley AC athletes Sommer Lecky and Dempsey McGuigan who were both included in the Northern Ireland team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which takes place on the Gold Coast in Australia from April 4th to 15th. Dempsey and his brother Fellan were at different venues at Collegiate meetings in the USA during the month throwing the heavy hammer. Dempsey was in action with the 16lb ball and reached out to over 20m at Vanderbilt meet in Nashville and the throw was close to his PB and Donegal best. It also moved him to 17th in the collegiate rankings in the USA. Meanwhile, Fellas McGuigan was out over 15m with his throw.

Raphoe badminton player Rachael Darragh was also included in the Northern Ireland team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia while in basketball there was disappointment for St. Eunan’s College who suffered defeat 44-32 to Colaiste Chiarain from Kildare in the All-Ireland U16 Schools Basketball Final in Dublin.

Letterkenny boxer Stephen McMonagle was also included on the Northern Ireland boxing team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Super-Heavyweight division. Staying in the ring Dungloe’s Matthew McCole secured a place in the Light-Welterweight Final at the National U22 Championships in Dublin after defeating Aaron Daly from Castlebar on a split decision to move into the decider. Near the end of January Labhaoise Clarke just missed out on a 10th All-Ireland title after losing on a split decision to Shauna Blaney at Dublin’s National Stadium.

There was great news for two young St Johnston players Scott Macbeth and Harry Pearson who were included on an Ireland U13 squad for Cricket Ireland’s Cubs Winter Training Programme. At the start of the month Declan Bonner’s first competitive game of his second spell as Donegal senior football team manager got off to an easy start with a 2-15 to 0-6 win over Queen’s University Belfast in Ballybofey in the McKenna Cup opener. But, a week later ex-Donegal manager Rory Gallagher had satisfaction of putting one over on his former team in Ballybofey as his Fermanagh side defeated the hosts 1-13 to 1-10 in the second McKenna Cup group game. In the final group game the return of Kilcar men Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty helped Donegal book a place in the McKenna Cup semi-finals thanks to a 10-point win over Monaghan in Clones (4-19 to 0-19).
Bonner’s men then had a comfortable seven-point win over Armagh in the Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final in Celtic Park, Derry thanks to a strong second half performance with Paddy McBrearty scoring eight-points (0-20 to 1-10). 14-men Donegal went down by just a single point to Kerry in an NFL Division 1 opener in Killarney (2-18 to 3-14). Bonner’s side who played from the 20th minute with 14 players following the straight red card received by Nathan Mullins led by a point in the dying minutes but the hosts came back to snatch victory.

Naomh Colmcille hopes of a big day out at Croke Park were dashed by Cork side Knocknagree who had a 2-9 to 0-7 win over the Newtowncunningham outfit in the All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final. On the last Sunday in January and despite a pretty encouraging performance the Donegal Ladies suffered a four-point (2-5 to 0-7) defeat to All-Ireland champions Dublin at the O’Donnell Park in their opening National Football League Division 1 game.

On the first day of January and for the second successive year Raphoe Hockey Club suffered defeat in the Linden Cup Final this time losing out 5-0 to Bangor in Belfast. Setanta’s brilliant run in the All-Ireland series came to an end when the Killygordon outfit lost 4-12 to 0-13 to Ardmore from Waterford in the semi-final in Navan. Letterkenny lad Joe Dunleavy was named for the first time in the Ireland U-20 squad for the international Six Nations Championship.

It was a memorable month for Ramelton’s Catherine Grier who played her part as the Irish Deaf Sports Futsal team secured qualification for the European Finals in Finland after a 6-2 win over Italy in the Netherlands.
Swilly Rovers midfielder Grier played a key role and scored in opening 3-3 draw with hosts Holland. The Mulroy College Milford student’s performance earned her the Player of the Match accolade award. However, Grier’s participation in the weekend qualifiers was then cut short after sustaining an ankle injury in the game against Germany on Saturday morning.

Seamus Coleman returned to competitive action with the Everton U23s, ten months after suffering a terrible double leg fracture. The Killybegs native played just short of an hour as the Toffees defeated Portsmouth in the Premier League Cup.
On the last Friday of January

Carndonagh CS won the Ulster Senior Schools title for the third-year in a row after defeating St. Columba’s College Stranorlar 1-0 in Traighalough thanks to a second half Corey McBride goal.
The Scoil Mhurie Buncrana U15 girls clinched the FAI Schools Minor Ulster Cup title after a 4-1 victory over Carndonagh C.S.
And Moville Community School secured their place in the All-Ireland Schools Senior Soccer Final after a 3-2 win over Enniscorthy’s Coalise Bride.

In secondary schools GAA, St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny reached the semi-finals of the Ulster McLarnon Cup after an easy 1-16 to 1-4 win over Loreto College, Colraine in Owenbeg.

For further details on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to on Facebook at Donegalsport Starawards or on twitter at DL Sportstars.