Plenty of July joy in Donegal sport
By Declan Kerr
July delivered loads of success stories in Donegal sport and among the highlights was undoubtedly the five medals brought back to the county from the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Letterkenny gymnast Patrick Quinlivan won silver in the vault along with bronze medals in the horizontal bars, rings and parallel bars. He also finished fourth in three categories and was fourth overall.
Buncrana’s Oliver Doherty produced the goods in a dramatic conclusion to his final round in LA to pick up a silver medal in golf. Many of the July successes are sure to feature among the nominees at the end of 2015 for the Donegal Sports Star Awards, which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year.
Meanwhile, at the European Youth Olympics Festival in Tiblisi, Georgia there was a bronze medal for Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky in the High Jump. Her Finn Valley colleagues Arlene Crossan and Aaron McGlynn finished ninth in the Long Jump and seventh in the 800m respectively. Lifford AC’s Brendan O’Donnell, the reigning Donegal Sports Star ‘Secondary Schoolboy’ Award holder, was seventh in the Hammer.
Early in the month Chloe and Sam Magee won the mixed doubles title at the White Nights International Challenge in Russia. And the Raphoe siblings went onto make the semi-finals at the Nigeria International Challenge in Lagos. Chloe reached the singles semi-finals in Lagos. Josh and Sam were defeated also at the semi-final stage in the men’s doubles.
There was big celebrations in the Frosses area as Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan won the Triton Showers National Rally Championship for the first time in their Ford Focus WRC. A second place finish in the Sligo Park Hotel Rally proved enough to clinch the title. The rally was won by fellow Donegal crew Declan and Brian Boyle in Ford Fiesta WRC. Declan Gallagher and Ryan Moore were fifth in their Toyota Starlet.
History was also made in Clones when the Donegal senior ladies side won the Ulster Football Championship title for the first time with a 2-12 to 1-10 win over favourites Monaghan in the decider and that woman Geraldine McLaughlin came up trumps again with 2-7 of her side’s total.
After huge disappointment for both Karl Griffin and Mark English at the European U23 Championships both finished July on a high note. Karl won the 800m race at the Morton games in Dublin in a time of 1:47:47 while Mark, the reigning Overall Donegal Sports Star Award holder, secured his place at next year’s Rio Olympics as he ran a season’s Personal Best of 1:45:49 to finish fourth at the London Anniversary Games.
At the Middle Distance National Championships in Athlone Letterkenny 24/7s Aidan Callaghan finished a magnificent third behind two professional international competitors. Fellow club members John Cannon won his age category while Gavin Crawford was third in his section. Callaghan also won round 3 of the Triathlon Ireland Super Series in Sligo.
Jason Quigley extended his unbeaten start to professional boxing with a seventh straight victory. This time he stopped his opponent Tom Howard in the second round of the contest in Los Angeles.
Milford AC’s Hugh Gallagher won four gold medals at the All-Ireland Championships in Tullamore. The 91-year-old had firsts in the Javelin, Shot Putt and Discus. He now has 170 gold medals.
The Donegal U-21 Hurlers won the new the All-Ireland C Championship Final with a 1-11 to 0-11 victory over Tyrone at Celtic Park.
At the beginning of the month Tirconaill AC’s Kate McGowan won the Irish Junior 400m hurdles final in Tullamore in a time of 60.67 setting a new Irish record.
Also in Tullamore Finn Valley’s Arlene Crossan won long jump gold, Sommer Lecky (high and long jump golds) and Janine Boyle (long jump silver). While Dylan Kearns took bronze in the Javelin. Dempsey McGuigan and Fellan McGuigan won senior and junior hammer. Dalton McGuigan won the U-23 Steeplechase. John Kelly took the Shot Putt title while Mark McPaul was third in the 5k. And Tirconaill AC’s Conor Mahon won the Irish U-23 Triple Jump title in Tullamore with a best of 13.99m.
Lifford AC landed seven medals at the All-Ireland Track & Field Championships in Athlone. There were golds for Stephen McCallion in the Boys U16 Triple Jump in a new PB of 12.06m and Brendan O’Donnell won the hammer for a fourth successive year with a 61.32m throw in the U-17 age group. It was a good week for O’Donnell who had earlier been named on the Irish team for the European Youth Olympics in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Lifford had more Hammer success with Olivia Cuskelly taking silver in the Girls U-14 section and there was bronze for Conor Breslin in the U-16 Boys category. Shannon Craig was second in the Girls U-17 High Jump while bronze medals went to Tom Mullen in the Boys U-16 250m Hurdles and Alan McGinley in the Boys U-17 300m Hurdles.
Rosses AC’s Fodhla McFadden won silver in the Women’s U-17 Triple Jump.
Arlene Crossan of Finn Valley won the 300m and took silver in the 400m while Janine Boyle picked up silver. James Kelly won the Shot and was second in the Javelin. There were also medals for Pauric Harold, Dylan Kearns, Naoimh McGranaghan and Ian Brennan.
Finn Valley hammer thrower Fellan McGuigan narrowly missed out on a place in the U-20 Final at the European Junior Championships in Sweden. There was more success for Brendan O’Donnell (St. Eunan’s College) as he won bronze at a Schools Track & Field International in Falkirk, Scotland.
Also in Falkirk Sommer Lecky won the High Jump while Arlene Crossan was third in the Long Jump. Arlene also helped Ireland to third in the 4 x 300m relay.
In the middle of July the Tirconaill AC women’s team qualified for the Premier League Final coming out on top in the Athlone.
Mary McLoone had victories in the triple and long jumps, she also came third in the 100m. Kath McGowan won both 100m and 400m hurdles. McLoone, McGowan, Kelly McGrory and Eva McMullan also took victory in the 4 x 100m relay. Geraldine Stewart won the shot putt and was third in the javelin.
Lifford AC took home 10 medals from the All-Ireland Masters Championship in Tullamore with Isabel Breslin winning silvers in the 80m Hurdles, High Jump and Shot Putt. Trevor McGlynn took gold in the Hammer and bronze in both the Discus and Shot. Joe Gavin collected silver in the 100m Hurdles and was third in both the High Jump and Long Jump. Brian Breslin took bronze in the 110m Hurdles. There was also Masters success for Finn Valley in Tullamore with gold for Brian O’Domhnaill in the 3k Walk and Bosco Reid in the Hammer while he was second in the Shot Putt. Eileen Maguire won the Shot Putt while Catriona McGranaghan took silver in both the 800m and 1,500m races. Mary Martin was second in the 3k.
There was disappointed for Convoy B.C.s Bryan McNamee who was defeated by Jack Conroy (Mullingar) in the 63kgs Open Senior Cadet Championship Final at the National Stadium. The Carrigans and St. Johnston Gun Club finished third at the All-Ireland Clay Pigeon Shooting Championships in Mullingar.
In the Pool Shooting event Gareth Warren and Paddy Brown took first place while Melvin Duncan and Joe O’Donnell were third. In cycling Amanda Gallagher won a gold medal for finishing first in the 500 metres track time trial as part of the Irish Nationals held in Belfast. Gallagher and Shauna McFadden represented Ireland at the European Youth Olympics Festival in Tblisi.
Michael Murphy won the Ulster GAA Writers Monthly Merit Award for his performances against Tyrone and Derry in June. It was the Glenswilly man’s fifth time to win the award and he is now just one behind the record holder Peter Canavan of Tyrone.
There was heartbreak for the Donegal U-14 Girls side who lost 2-10 to 1-8 to Tipperary in their All-Ireland B Final replay in Tuam.
And there was no joy for the Donegal senior side who surrendered their Ulster Football title crown to Monaghan going down by the narrowest of margins 0-11 to 0-10 in Clones.
Paddy McConigley’s dream of an All-Ireland medal with the Kilkenny footballers ended when the Fanad native’s side was beaten 1-12 to 08 in the semi-final played in Tullamore.
Letterkenny Golf Club’s Brendan McGrath qualified to be the Donegal representative at the Grand Finals of the Irish Open Matchplay in October at Carton House Co Kildare. In Martial Arts Sloan O’Donnell ISKU was defeated at the semi-final stage of the WUKF European Championships in Herstel, Belgium. Sloan was competing in the Junior Male Sanbon Kumite category. Burtonport’s Joseph Duffy defeated Ivan Jorge in a lightweight bout at the SSE Hyro in Glasgow.
On the motorbike circuit 15-year-old Kilmacrennan boy Richard Kerr had two fantastic races finishing 9th and 11th at the British Motostar Championships in Knockhill, Scotland.
And in late July another young Kilmac lad Caolan Irwin in his first year on the Scott Racing Aprilia RRV 450 machine was third at the British Championships in Rockingham the fastest circuit in Europe. On the same weekend at the British Championships in Rockingham 13-year-old Rhys Irwin was third in the Aprilia Superteen Championship on the Scott Racing 125cc Aprilia.
There was big success for Donegal at the Ulster County Pool Players Festival. Lifford’s Darryl Doherty won the B category. The Donegal squad of Shaun Sharkey, Johnny Connors, David Moore and Niall McDaid won the Inter-County 4-a-side event. To top it off Shaun Sharkey won the Ulster Champions Cup Final.
Finn Harps had a good start to July getting back to winning ways with victories over Cabinteely, Waterford and Cobh Ramblers. Despite then losing 1-0 away to UCD and only drawing 0-0 with Athlone Town in Ballybofey Ollie Horgan’s side stayed a point ahead at the top of the table.
Two Donegal men Seamus Houghton and Jonny Bonner were members of the Republic of Ireland squad that took part in the World University Games in Gwangiu, South Korea.
In the middle of the month Letterkenny’s Eric White and Ballybofey man Gary Foy were honoured at the FAI Grassroots and Communications awards in the Clarion Hotel Sligo. The awards were presented a the FAI AGM dinner with Eric getting the ‘Best Broadcast’ while Gary took the best photograph accolade.
The Inishowen U-15s were the only major Donegal winners at the Foyle Cup. Inishowen defeated nearest rivals Donegal 2-0 in the decider. Lagan Harps players Caoimhe Walshe and Zoe Green were in the Republic of Ireland squad that had a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in Ballymena. Zoe started the game while Caoimhe came on as an early second half sub.
For more information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to donegalsportsstarawards.ie or on facebook at Donegalsports Starawards.