The Donegal Sports Star Awards February review reveals an excellent month for athletics especially for Mark English, Brendan Boyce and young Finn Valley runner Aaron McGlynn. English continued his fine start to the year by setting a new Irish indoor record for 500m as he took his first victory of the year in Stockholm. English won the race at the Golden Galan event in a time of 1 minute 0.93 seconds in the Swedish capital. The reigning Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner was then second in a season’s best of 1:46.99 over 800m at the Emirates Arena the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix. At the end of the month the UCD student took his fourth Irish Indoor 800m title at the GloHealth National Senior Indoor in a time of 1:51.57.
At the same finals Brendan Boyce finally struck gold when the Milford man won the men’s 5k walk in 20 minutes 17.81 seconds. The Letterkenny AC member had been unsuccessful in 12 previous attempts to take the title. It was a very good month for Aaron McGlynn who first recorded a new Personal Best of 1:54.13 over 800m at a GloHealth Indoor Games event. The Finn Valley member topped that by winning gold in the 800m at the English U17 Finals in Sheffield, England in a time of 1:56:06 and over the same distance at the GloHealth National Indoor Championships in Athlone at the end of February the Glenfin boy qualified for the senior final after finishing runner-up to Mark English in a heat clocking 1:56.23 for the 800m.
It was good month for the Magee family at the National Senior Championship in the Baldoyle Badminton Centre. Chloe Magee won her tenth senior defeating second seed Sara Boyle in straight sets, 21-7 21-11. And there was with further success for Chloe who with her brother Sam won the mixed doubles defeating Ciaran Chambers and Sinead Chambers in the final 21-13 21-4 while Joshua and Sam Magee won the men’s doubles against Nhat Nguyen and Paul Reynolds 21-12 21-11. There was medal success for three Donegal men at an international tug of war competition in Holland. Liam Strain, from Buncrana, won gold; Adrian Lynch took bronze for the Ireland 640kg team. Another Buncrana man Paul Duffy won silver with his Co Louth club St Pat’s in the 560kg category.
On the national stage Coaliste Colmcille Ballyshannon won the U16B All-Ireland League Final defeating Dominican College Galway 31-29. At the end of February Letterkenny Institute of Technology took the Independent.ie HE Hurling Championship Division 3 All-Ireland title with a 1-11 to 2-6 victory over Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen) in the final with Donegal senior player Sean McVeigh scoring nine points in the decider. In swimming Cora Rooney (Holy Family N.S. Ballyshannon) won gold in both the 50m Butterfly and 50m Backcrawl at the Irish Minor Schools Swimming Championships in the National Aquatic Centre, Dublin while Darragh Sommerville (Creevy N.S. Ballyshannon) won bronze. Jonathon Martin (St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny) won his first ever gold medal at the Ulster School’s Swimming Championships in Ballymena. He won the 100m Backstroke Final in a time of 1 minute seven seconds and also took a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle.
Buncrana men Kieran McDaid and Johnny Bonner were members of the Carlow IT side that won the Colleges Premier League title with an extra-time 2-1 win over Colaste Stiofain Naofa in Killester. Bonner won the man of the match after scoring the two goals in the decider. It was 1-1 at full-time with Bonner’s first goal coming from the penalty spot. And in extra=time and it was Bonner who hit the winner for the Carlow men. Three Donegal lads Georgie Kelly, Ryan McLaughlin and Darragh Black picked up national colleges medals as members of the UCD side that defeated University Limerick 2-1 in the Collingwood Cup Final. Kelly scored the equalizer in the decider. Earlier in February Black, McLaughlin and Kelly played key roles as University College Dublin won the national Harding Cup Final thanks to a 1-0 extra-time victory over Dublin City University in Galway.
In the middle of the month St. Johnston boxer Brett McGinty recorded a fine win, fighting for an Ulster team in Newport, Wales against the host nation. In early February McGinty had won his 12th Ulster title in the Youth 3 final at 69kgs at the Ulster 9 Counties in Hazelwood Integrated College, Belfast. The reigning Donegal Sports Star ‘Equestrian’ Award holder Mary Devine took a first and second place at the Dressage Ireland Eastern Regional show at Marlton Stud in Co. Wicklow and there. At the end of February again at the DI northern regional show but this time in Danescroft, Lisburn Mary took first and second place in her category becoming the first Donegal based dressage competitor to qualify for the Dressage Ireland National Winter Finals at medium level which are taking place in Cavan in early April.
In rugby the Letterkenny U18s were crowned Ulster Premier Division champions after a huge 71-0 victory over Carrickfergus at Dave Gallaher Park. In the middle of February the Donegal senior men’s team took second in the Inter-County Cross Country Athletics Championships at Tuam in Galway while Tir Chonaill AC’s Conall Mahon took bronze in the men’s triple jump at the GloHealth National Indoor Championships in Athlone with a best leap of 14.06 metres. Donegal Basketball Club U14 girls team won the North West League title defeating Ballyshannon 88ers 49-27. The Donegal girls were unbeaten all season.
The Donegal senior ladies side had a very good February with a victory over Laois in Moville (4-11 to 1-3); Geraldine McLaughlin notched 3-8 against Sligo in Tourlestrane (4-17 to 2-4) and finally there was the defeat of Meath in Trim (3-17 to 3-8). Rory Gallagher saw his Donegal side end the month with maximum points in Division 1 after two further wins over Cork in Ballyshannon (2-14 to 1-7) and against Mayo at McCumhaill Park (1-14 to 1-12) to sit joint top of the Division table along with Dublin in an unbeaten start to the season for both side. And the inaugural gaa.ie ‘Player of the Week’ was won by Donegal’s Michael Murphy after his outstanding performance that included a near perfect exhibition of free taking in the victory over Down at the end of January.
Three Donegal players Naomh Ultan’s Daniel Gallagher along with St Eunan’s pair Michael Miller and Conor Morrison were members of the DCU side that won the final of the Corn Daithi Billings (Freshers A) overcoming UCD by 3-11 to 2-10 in the decider at Croke Park. Killybegs man Joe McBrearty was a part of the backroom staff while Michael McConalogue was on statistics. Kilcar’s Conor Doherty was a second half substitute for Dundalk Institute of Technology in their Trench Cup win over Waterford IT on Saturday by 1-14 to 1-8 in Jordanstown. Eamonn Carr (Fanad Gaels), Darragh McGee (Dungloe), Antoin Travers (Ardara), Michael Friel (Naomh Colmcille) and Stephen Mulligan (McCumhaills) were members of the Marino College Dublin side that won the national Third Level Colleges’ MacLeinn Cup at the University of Ulster Jordanstown thanks to a 5-21 to 1-8 victory in the final over Magee College Derry.
In handball Dromore NS pupil Oisin Marley took the Ulster U13 40×20 Single title in Belfast. Caoimhe McGlynn won the Ulster U13 Girls Singles title while there was silver in the doubles for her school colleagues Eleanor Moy and Katie McGlynn. At the Ulster Juvenile Handball Championships in Kingscourt Odhrán McGlynn was crowned Ulster Champion in the Under-15 Grade. St. Eunan’s U21s won their first Donegal U21 hurling title thanks to a 2-9 to 0-5 win over reigning champions Setanta at the O’Donnell Park. In Martial Arts there was a 15-medal haul for the Three Rivers Shotokan Club Lifford including seven golds at the JKS Ireland National Championships at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin.
And there was success for the Club from Lifford in Belfast at the 25th North South championships under the JKS Ireland banner. This event seen clubs from Scotland, England and all over Ireland descend on the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. Natasha Doherty won Gold and both Emma Dolan and Ciarán Crawford took bronze medals in their events. In the team event Natasha, Emma and Jamie-Lee Simpson won gold in their group and Ciarán as part of an U14 group. Ballybofey’s Paul Kelly secured his place in an Irish National Kickboxing final after defeating Tooey Buskaw Banchamek from Galway Kickboxing Club at the Tallaght Leisure Centre with a unanimous decision win.
Letterkenny man Rory Kennedy was the navigator as Garry Jennings drove his Subaru Impreza to win the Galway Rally. Meanwhile, another Letterkenny co-driver Johnny Baird partnered Wesley Patterson to second place in the national category. The reigning Donegal Sports Star ‘Motorpsport’ Award winner Donagh Kelly in a WRC Ford Focus retained his Birr Stages Rally title with Conor Foley calling the notes. Dungloe brother and sister Shaun and Helena Sharkey were on international duty for their country at the European Championships in Nantes, France, Shaun, the first ever winner of the Donegal Sports Star ‘Pool’ Award finished seventh in the overall finishing rankings while Helena who was making her Irish debut finished 11th overall in the women’s section. In the team semi-final Helena won her three matches in a tight 8-7 victory over hosts France. However, there was disappointment for the Dungloe woman in the final as the Irish lost 8-3 to England.
Ardara’s Ronan Whyte won his first senior soccer title by defeating the Connacht Final Aidan Devenney 3-2 in the final at the Northwest Snooker Club in Letterkenny. After a winning start to February for Ballybofey’s Larissa Muldoon and Nora Stapleton of Fahan who featured for the Ireland Senior Women’s rugby side in their opening defence of the RBS 6 Nations title at Donnybrook with a 21-3 win over Wales. However the two Donegal women then experienced defeat 18-6 to France in Perpignan and 13-9 to England before the end of the month. Gweedore Celtic’s Marc Walsh played twice for the Republic of Ireland in friendly internationals at a four -team invitational tournament in Turkey. The Irish went down 2-1 to Holland and won 2-1 over Austria.
Thursday 18th February – The LYIT men’s suffered a massive disappointment at Clones as they lost out 3-2 to Dundalk IT in a thrilling League One colleges final.
Shane Byrne’s side came from 1-0 down to take the lead thanks to Anthony Appiah’s two first half goals. Dundalk drew level on 71 minutes and almost immediately found themselves 3-2 behind. The Donegal Junior League secured their place in the last four of the Oscar Traynor Cup thanks to a 6-5 sudden death penalty-shoot out win over the North Eastern Football League at the Moss in Drumoghill. Milford Utd’s Kyle Black had equalized just before the hour mark for Brian Dorrian’s side after the visitors had taken an eighth minute lead. And extra-time couldn’t separate the two sides with the game ending 1-1. Glenea Utd goalkeeper Joe Coll proved to be the spot-kick match winner saving the 14th penalty in the sudden death shoot-out.
Ballybofey’s Johnny Dunleavy captained Cork City to President’s Cup success with a 2-0 win over Dundalk in the final at Turner’s Cross. At the end of February the Letterkenny Rovers senior side reached the last four of the FAI Intermediate Cup thanks to a 2-1 victory over Killester Utd from Dublin at Leckview Park. The goal scorers for Eamonn McConigley’s side were Christy Conaghan and a Darren McElwaine penalty. There was disappointment for the Lagan Harps U18 Ladies who were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Castlebar Celtic in the WFAI Final at McSharry Park in Sligo. Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin was named the Continental Tyres Women’s National League Player of the Month award for January/February. The Irish underage international who now plays her club football with Peamount United was outstanding for Dublin side in the national league since the New Year. There was big disappointment for Mulroy College Milford who were beaten 2-1 in the All-Ireland B Senior Girls Final by St. Peter’s Passage West (Cork) at the AUL in Dublin.
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