June 2016 is a month that will forever be one of the undoubted highlights in the soccer career of Seamus Coleman. Quite unexpectedly the Killybegs man was handed the captain’s armband by Martin O’Neill for the Republic of Ireland’s final European Championship group qualifier game against Italy in Lille after John O’Shea dropped to the bench. Only three points would do against the Italians and Coleman played a hugely influential part in the 1-0 that setup a meeting with hosts France in the last 16 of the competition. The Everton man’s achievements captured the sporting headlines in Donegal as he retained the skipper’s role for the French game which ended in bitter disappointment as the Republic of Ireland bowed out of the Euros after losing 2-1 to France in Paris. Coleman had setup the Republic of Ireland goal in the 1-1 draw with Sweden in the opener at the Stade de France.
Among the other significant highlights in the Donegal Sports Star Awards June review include the double gold for husband and wife Mick and Paulina Coleman from Stranorlar at the World Drug Free Powerlifting Single Lifts Championships in Wrexham, Wales. Paulina was winning her second world title in a row while it was three on the trot for Mick. In Martial Arts Convoy’s TJ McMenamin took gold in the Masters blue belt category at Heavyweight and landed two bronze medals at the British National IBJJF Championships hosted in the Crystal Palace Sports Arena in London.
There was an unbelievable end to the Donegal International Rally as local crew Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett took the title on the final stage in a Subaru Impreza S12 just half a second ahead of Cork driver Keith Cronin. Kelly and Barrett became the first crew to win the national and international sections of the event in successive years. And they became only the third all-Donegal crew to be crowned champions after Vincent Bonner and Seamus McGettigan (1983) and the Boyle cousins Declan and Brian two years ago.
In early June Kilcar based Peter Donegan experienced bitter disappointment when he and his partner Nigel Power lost the Team Final to England at the European Masters Snooker Championships in Vilnius, Lithuania. Peter also reached the last 16 of the Singles competition. Meanwhile, Annette Pearson from Letterkenny also represented Ireland in the Euro Ladies Finals in both the singles and team categories.
Just a fortnight later Donegan, at 49 years of age, became the oldest winner of the Donegal Snooker Championship when he defeated Anthony Bonnar 4-0 in the final at the North West Club in Letterkenny. Donegan recorded a 116 break in the second frame against the nine times champion. He had also defeated reigning champion Aidan Devenney 4-0 in the semi-final where he put together a 75 break in one of the frames.
At the end of the month North West Snooker Club players Sean Devenney from Letterkenny and Ardara’s Ronan Whyte were members of a six-man Irish U16 team who won the international Celtic Challenge in Llanelii, Wales against the host nation. Ronan won two, drew two and lost while Sean won three, drew two and lost one. Sean also had the highest break of 68. In rowing the two time Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner Sinead Jennings and her partner had a good weekend at the World Rowing Cup Final in Poznan, Poland finishing fourth overall in the A section. Competing in the Lightweight Double Sculls the Letterkenny woman had won her heat on the Saturday.
St. Johnston’s Brett McGinty missed out on a medal at the European Youth Championships after losing to an Armenian opponent in a quarter-final bout in Anapa, Russia. Young Letterkenny B.C. fighter Paddy McShane had success at the Hull Box Cup going all the way to win the final at the tournament in Yorkshire. 13-year-old McShane who was a member of the Ulster team has had a good year including taking an Irish title back in March and was also named Junior Cadet Champion during the month of June. There was also a gold medal for Ciara Craig of Dunfanaghy ABC at the Hull Box Cup in Yorkshire.
It was a one-two for Donegal as Tir Chonaill AC’s Kelly McGrory was the winner in the 400 metres Hurdles at the National Senior Athletics Championships in Dublin, Lurgybrack girl Arlene Crossan of Finn Valley AC produced a superb performance to finish second in the event. Rio bound Mark English, the reigning Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner, made a welcome return to competitive athletics by retaining his Irish 800m title at the National Senior Athletics Championships in in Santry while Karl Griffin from Donegal Town was third in the same race. Milford man Brendan Boyce, representing Letterkenny AC, was third in the10k Race Walk while there was gold for Tori Pena (Pole Vault) in the most successful day ever for Donegal athletes at the National Senior Championships in Santry.
There was a gold medal for Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky (High Jump) at the Tailteann Games in Santry and she set a new record that stood for 25 years while she was also named outstanding female athlete. At the same Games there were gold medals for Finn Valley boys Aaron McGlynn in the 800m and James Kelly with a throw of 16.85m in the Shot Putt. At the start of the month St. Catherine’s VS student Dylan Kearns won a Javelin silver medal at the Centenary Irish Schools Athletics Championships in Tullamore.
Letterkenny AC’s Natasha Adams finished second in the Women’s Mini Marathon in Dublin. And there were gold medals at the Ulster Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast for John Kelly, Finn Valley AC (Senior Shot Putt) and Shannon Craig, Lifford/Strabane AC (Juvenile High Jump & bronze in the Senior High Jump). Meanwhile, Lifford/Strabane AC’s Brendan O’Donnell set a new personal best of 67.72m to win the U18 Hammer event at the Ulster Juvenile Championships also in Belfast. Letterkenny AC’s David Smith won gold in both the U15 800m and 1500m races at the Ulster Juvenile Championships on the Mary Peter Track in Belfast. Smith also took a bronze in the U15 High Jump. Meanwhile, Edward Grant took gold in his age category in the High Jump.
Donegal Town’s Dillon Muldoon was named Division 3 Male Collegiate Player of the Year at the Basketball Ireland Awards held in Dublin’s National Arena after helping Sligo IT to the Division 3 title. He was MVP in the National League Final and was top scorer in Division 3. His club Donegal Nets were runners-up in the Shannonside League and won the Top Four trophy. There were also Basketball Ireland Awards for Abbey Vocational School (Girls ‘C’ School of the Year) and Coaliste Colmcille, Ballyshannon (Girls ‘B’ School of the Year). Rosses AC’s Ciaran McGonigle produced a super run to finish third in the Derry Marathon in a time of 2.41.24.
On the June Bank Holiday Monday Naomh Conaill retained their All-Ireland Senior Gaeltacht title with a 1-16 to 2-10 victory over Kerry’s An Gaeltacht in the final played at Ballyvourney in Cork. And there was a Donegal double the same day when Downings bridged a 34-year gap by taking the All-Ireland Junior Gaeltacht title with a 2-9 to 0-12 victory over Kerry’s An Gaeltacht in the final played at Ballyvourney in Cork.
In Badminton Chloe Magee booked her place in round two of the Canadian Open in Calgary. Olympic qualifier Magee defeated Tai Yi of Canada over three sets, losing the first 21-10 but came back to win the next two, 21-18 21-19. However, Chloe then missed out on a quarter-final after losing to the number one seed Michelle Li in straight sets. In the mixed doubles Chloe and Sam Magee progressed to the last eight with a comfortable 21-15 21-13 win. Meanwhile, Sam and Joshua Magee needed three sets on to reach the last eight against a Canadian pair, winning 27-25 19-21 21-19.
The St. Eunan’s U14 Girls won the All-Ireland Camogie Feile Shield title defeating Cappoquin from Waterford in the decider 2-01 to no score. Indeed it was a very successful couple of weeks for the St. Eunan’s U14 Camogie team who completed the domestic double with a County Championship Final win over Carndonagh to add to the earlier league title success. It ended 4-04 to 0-00 to complete their double and bring home a second straight U14 A County Championship title to O’Donnell Park.
In cycling Muff man Ronan McLaughlin won the first Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Race. He finished the 555k cycle in a time of 19 hours 45 minutes and 48 seconds. Runner-up was Jason Black with Joe Barr third. The first riders home were the two-man team of Conor McElwaine and Matthew McKinley in a time of 17 hours and 44 minutes. In equestrian 13-year-old James McCloughan from Kilmacrennan represented Ireland at the Junior Tetrathlon Championships at Mortem Morrell, Warrickshire. James was on the Irish team competing against England, Scotland and Wales with the events including running, swimming, pistol shooting and cross-country riding. The Coaliste Ailigh student is a member of the East Donegal Pony Club.
The Donegal Gaeltacht Riding Club became the first Irish team to be selected to represent the country at the Generali World Show Jumping Tournament in Lamotte-Beuvron in France. The Donegal team got the nod from the International Affairs Committee of the Association of Irish Riding Clubs (AIRC) for the competition which is organized by the Federation Francaise d’Equitation (FFE). 1992 All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy received the Freedom of Donegal award at a Civic Reception in Lifford.
The Donegal Senior Football team had to settle for a draw after a late Conor McManus free gave Monaghan a second chance in an Ulster Championship semi-final that ended 1-11 to 0-14 with Odrhran MacNiallais getting his third goal in two games for Rory Gallagher’s side. Earlier in the quarter-final and despite playing the entire second half with just 14 men following the straight red card dismissal of Neil McGee Donegal comfortably saw of the challenge of Fermanagh 2-12 to 0-11 with MacNiallais getting the ‘Man of the Match’ award after scoring 2-1 against the Ernesiders and that also earned the Gweedore man the GAA.ie ‘Footballer of the Week’ accolade.
The Donegal Minors booked their place in the Ulster Final with an impressive 3-15 to 2-12 victory over Monaghan at Breffni Park. Reigning Ladies Ulster Senior champions Donegal suffered defeat in the provincial semi-final going down 1-9 to 1-8 against Cavan in Killyclogher. In hurling
Donegal won the Ulster Senior Championship Shield Final for the first time thanks to a 5-13 to 2-14 victory over Monaghan in Enniskillen. Bryan Gorman from Donegal Town took a silver medal in the Masters brown belt category, at medium heavy weight at the British National IBJJF Championships hosted in the Crystal Palace Sports Arena in London. Paddy McBride, a native of Carrigart took bronze in his category. Other Donegal Rilion Gracie club successes included Declan Bushell also from Donegal Town who brought home a bronze in his category. Killybegs Sea Angling Club member Bernie O’Callaghan won a bronze medal as part of an Irish team at the European Sea Angling Championships in Wexford. Their success came in the longest fish category.
It was a good month for Finn Harps who at the start of June caused somewhat of a surprise with a 3-0 win over an in-form Sligo Rovers in Ballybofey thanks to a double from Sean Houston and one from Ryan Curran. Then after the mid-season break Ollie Horgan’s side carved out a significant win when overcoming bottom of the table Longford Town 2-0 at the City Calling Stadium. The result put them 12 clear of Longford and 11 in front of Bray Wanderers. It was the first away victory of the season for Ollie Horgan’s side. And it was first goals of the season respectively for Josh Mailey and Tony McNamee that secured the three points. Meanwhile the Donegal U16 girls’ squad won the Plate title at the Gaynor Cup in Limerick.
There was a big success for Milford Tennis Club member Bernard McGettigan who won the Tipperary U16 Boys singles title in his first ever competition on clay.
For further information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to donegalsportsstarawards.ie or on Facebook at Donegalsport Starawards.