The month of August produced a number of magnificent individual and team successes for Donegal sport. Athletics, boxing, GAA, rugby, badminton, cycling and soccer all feature in the Donegal Sports Star August review. Many of this month’s high achievers will be challenging for awards when the 2014 winners are announced at the 39th Donegal Sports Star function which takes place at the end of January.
Undoubtedly the biggest achiever was Mark English who became only the seventh Irish person ever to win a medal at a European Track & Field Championship. The reigning Donegal Sports Star Athletic Award holder ran a brilliant 800 metres final in Zurich to take the bronze medal and the UCD medical student just narrowly missed out on the silver.
Another brilliant performer was Finn Valley BC’s Michael Gallagher who won a bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games in China. The 18-year-old who defeated a Korean opponent in the Heavyweight bout has built up an impressive record of success and appears set for a big senior career in the ring.
What a year it’s been for Ramelton man Kieran Murray who won three gold medals and a bronze at the European Transplant Games Finals in Poland. Kieran, a member of Milford A.C., only took up athletics at the beginning of 2014, won the 5k with a PB of 20.27. And he also took gold in the 1,500m and Golf Singles in Krakow. His bronze came in the 800m.
The 31st of August was an historic occasion for Donegal GAA as the county’s minor and senior teams played in All-Ireland semi-finals on the same day for the first time. And the two teams made amazing extra history by booking their places in the Minor and Senior All-Ireland Finals with stunning victories over the two Dublin teams.
Declan Bonner’s boys overcame the Dubs by just a point in the end 1-12 to 1-11 with Buncrana’s John Campbell getting the goal in the first half. A remarkable recovery before half-time saw Donegal take a one point lead with the help of a Ryan McHugh goal.
Another McHugh goal shortly after restart stunned the Dubs and when Colm Anthony McFadden found the net in the 46th minute there was really only going to be one winner as a seven point gap had been opened up. Ryan McHugh got the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his 2-2 contribution to the win and he followed that up by being named the GAA.ie ‘Player of the Week’. It was the second time that the Kilcar player won the award this summer after also topping the poll following the Ulster Final victory over Monaghan.
In the middle of the month there was huge disappointment for previous Donegal Sports Star Award winners Nora Stapleton and Larissa Muldoon as the Irish Women’s Senior Rugby team were beaten 40-7 by England in the World Cup semi-final in Paris. The Irish ended up fourth after losing to hosts France in the 3rd/4th place play-off. Both Stapleton and Muldoon had featured in a memorable group run that included wins over the USA, one of the tournament favourites New Zealand and Kazakhstan.
Chloe and Sam Magee just missed out on gold at the Brazilian Grand Prix in the Mixed Doubles. The Raphoe siblings had led 2-0 and were at match point in the third set when the final turned in favour of the number one seeds from Germany. The Germans eventually winning 3-2. Sam and his brother Joshua had won bronze in the Men’s Doubles at the Brazilian tournament.
Chloe lost in the first round of the World Championships in Copenhagen to a Hong Kong opponent 15-21, 15-21. In the mixed doubles Chloe and her brother Sam lost to Chinese Taipie opposition 22-23, 17-21.
Carndonagh man Garret Doherty won three gold medals at the retro running World Championships in Italy. Retro, running backwards, saw Garret come first in the 200m, 400m and1500m.
Talented Letterkenny girl Christine Russell was 11th at a European Junior Triathlon in Nottingham. Her time of 1:03:14 was almost seven minutes faster than her previous in Omagh where the 16-year-old was third female home.
Other international sporting highlights included Philip Deignan, a previous Donegal Sports Star Cycling Award winner who finished seventh overall in the Tour of Poland and Jason Quigley who won his second professional boxing fight in California with the bout being stopped at the end of the third round when his Mexican opponent’s corner team ‘threw in the towel’.
At the end of the month Declan and Brian Boyle’s win at the Galway Summer Rally kept the Donegal crew in the frame to retain the Dunlop National Championship. Lagan Harps booked their place in the Women’s FAI National Cup Final with a 6-2 win over Ballyfermot FC in Manor thanks to Amber Barrett and Lauren Harper who both scored twice while there were one each for Nikita Burke and Sadbhla Medlar.
At the beginning of August Greg Roberts from the City of Derry Club won the Danny McDaid 15k in a time of 48 minutes and 31 seconds while on the international stage Milford’s Brendan Boyce finished 16th in the 50k Race Walk at the European Track & Field Championship in Zurich recording a new personal best time.
Inishowen AC’s Benny Mullan was first home in the Donegal Marathon the first to be held in the county in 31 years. The Moville man’s winning time was 2:56:49 while second and third were two Letterkenny runners Philip Rainey (3:01:39) and Kevin Wallace (3:02:24).
First woman home was Joleen Mellon of North East AC clocking 3:31:22 for the 26.2 miles. And the first two across the finish line in the Half Marathon were Letterkenny men with Michael Black the winner clocking 1:17:08.6 while the runner-up was Gary Crossan (1:18:48.9) and third was Noel Diver of Rosses AC (1:20:35.8). Maria McCambridge was the winner of the Women’s Half Marathon in a time of 1:24:12. The runner-up was Roisin Ni Dhuibhir who was 37th overall clocking 1:33:00.4 and third was Letterkenny AC’s Noreen McGettigan who had a finishing time of 1:37:41.5 for the 13 miles which saw her come in 57th.
There was gold for Finn Valley AC members James Kelly and Aaron McGlynn in the Shot Putt and 800m respectively at the British Track & Field Championships in Bedford. In badminton after winning her first round game Raphoe’s Rachael Darragh was beaten in the last 16 of the Slovakian Open by the Number 3 seed from Poland. Darragh is a niece of Chloe Magee. In the last 16 of the Women’s Doubles’ Darragh and her partner Sara Boyle were defeated by a pair from Belgium.
Errigal Cycling Club’s P.J. Doogan was busy boy in August first spending a week with the Irish FBD Talent Team in competition in Holland and Belgium. He followed that up by winning a bronze medal at the Community Games Finals in Tullamore. ECC’s Ben Carr and Odhran Doogan both won silver at the Games.
Errigal CCs Amanda Gallagher, Ciara Doogan and Conor Halvey were members of the Ulster team that won the Inter Provincial Track Championships in Dublin. And there was also plenty of success for ECC at the All-Ireland Youth Championships in Ballymoney with Odhran Doogan taking gold in the U-11 Boys.
Errigal also took the overall U-12 team award while Cora Harkin was bronze medalist in the U-12 criterium. Errigal also took the overall team award at Boys U-14 which included Joe P.J. Doogan, Conor Halvey, Ronan McCann, Michael McGlynn, Ben Carr and Adam Harkin. There was a gold and a silver medal for Shauna McFadden in the U-15 Girls while Ciara Doogan took three golds in the U-16 Girls. And there was a first ever medal at the championship for Donegal Bay CC with bronze going to Oisin Doherty in the U-13 road race.
On the August Bank Holiday Monday the Donegal Senior Ladies GAA side made their exit from the All-Ireland Football Championship at the second round qualifier stage losing 1-22 to 2-14 against Kerry after extra-time in Tullamore despite a stirring performance. But there was a good day for the Donegal U-17 Boys who won the Jim McGuigan Cup with a big win over Tyrone in the final at the Watty Grahams Ground in Glen, Co. Derry.
Across the water there was club championship success in London for a number of Donegal players with ex-Letterkenny Gaels player Aaron Bradley being the only footballer from the county on the Tirconaill Gaels side that won the senior title.
At Intermediate level former St. Eunan’s trio Ciaran Greene, Niall McClafferty and Dualtach Molloy were members of the North London Shamrocks side that won the London Intermediate Final. It was the club’s first title since being formed ten years ago. Meanwhile there were London Junior Championship medals for Milford man Paul Shiels and ex-Downings players Shea Coyle, Aaron McClafferty, Danny McBride, Gary ‘Ban’ McClafferty and James McBride who helped Moindearg to a one point win over Thomas McCurtains in the decider at Ruislip.
Joseph Duffy marked his return to the Mixed Martial Arts with a third round win at the Cage Warriors Championship in Dublin. The 26-year-old Welsh man whose parents are both Donegal natives had been in professional boxing for the previous two years. On the same night at the Helix, Letterkenny’s Tommy McCafferty, a former Donegal Sports Star Award winner won his bout by way a TKO over Daniel Reilly.
On the motorbike16-year-old Kilmacrennan boy Caolan Irwin was a winner and runner-up in two Newcomers Moto 3 Championship races at Kirkistown. He was also third in the National Moto 3 Championships. From there Caolan over the next two days took part for the first time in the British Superteen Championships in Wales where he was 11th in his first race and fifth in another race.
In soccer on the first day in August Dale Gorman helped the Northern Ireland U-20 side to win the Milk Cup in Colraine after a 1-0 victory over Canada in their final game. Three days later the Letterkenny lad scored his first goal for the Stevenage senior team in a pre-season 1-1 away friendly against St. Albans.
On the last Friday in August Finn Harps slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Shamrock B in Ballybofey ending an 11 match on unbeaten run for Ollie Horgan’s side and effectively ending any lingering hopes of getting into the promotion play-off spot. The week before Horgan’s side had booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FAI Senior Cup with a fine 2-1 away win over Wexford Youths thanks to goals from Tommy McMonagle and sub Mickey Funston. Harps have been drawn away to top non-league side Avondale Utd of Cork in the last eight of the competition.
It was a good month for Cockhill Celtic who clinched back-to-back Ulster Senior League titles after twice coming from behind to defeat Letterkenny Rovers at Leckview Park. Donal O’Brien’s side completed the double ‘double’ by defeating Swilly Rovers 1-0 in the Donegal News Cup Final thanks to a Garbhan Friel goal at Leckview Park. Cockhill had previously done the same double last season.
There was success for Donegal underage soccer teams at the Galway Cup. The Donegal U-15s won the main section with a 1-0 over Cavan/Monaghan while in the same age group Finn Harps took the honours in the Plate competition and the County U-13s finished up third in the Elite phase after a 1-0 win over Kerry in Salthill.
Ramelton native Conrad Logan made his debut for League 1 side Rochdale, a 5-2 away win over Crew Alexander, after a loan move from Premiership outfit Leicester City. Staying with the Premiership Seamus Coleman got Everton’s first goal in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at Goodison Park.
Illies Celtic won the Inishowen Ladies League Cup Final for the first time defeating defending champions Greencastle FC 2-0 in the final at Maginn Park. But Greencastle did have something to cheer about as their U-14s won the Inishowen Cup.
Cappry Rovers Sean McBride was a member of the Republic of Ireland U16 Select that played in the Mayo International Cup, which included games against Chesterfield, Glentoran, Northern Ireland and Milwall. Another Ramelton man Kyle Callan McFadden, a previous Donegal Sports Star Soccer Award winner made his competitive debut for Norwich City in a 3-1 Capital 1 Cup victory over Crawley Town at Carrow Road
In Triathlon Letterkenny 24/7s Aidan Callaghan, the 2012 Donegal Sports Star Award category winner, continued his fine form by winning the Lough Sprint in Omagh, which also secured the Ulster Championship for the Hawthorn Heights man. Gartan native Siobhan Gallagher was the second woman finisher in Omagh. Callaghan was also third in the Dublin City Olympic Triathlon.
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