Two of the undoubted highlights of Donegal Sports Star Awards July review were the European gold medals won by Show Jumper Gavin Harley and Transplant Athlete Ciaran Murray. At the end of the month Rathdonnell man Harley claimed a gold medal as part of an Irish team at the international U21 Championships, which were held at Millstreet in Cork. It was the first time that Team Ireland had won this age group title. Gavin who rode 12-year-old stallion Undergone van de Kapel was the anchor man for the Irish team and jumped the winning clear round to seal victory for the home nation.
Two time Donegal Sports Award winner Ramelton man Kieran Murray won a gold and bronze medal at the European Transplant & Dialysis Championships in Vantaa, Finland. Despite a chest infection Kieran won the golf competition and finished third in the 800m final. Mark English wound up his preparations for the Olympic Games by running a season’s best 1:45.36 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London. It was a massive 2 minutes and 18 seconds better than the 1:47.54 that he clocked in an 800m in Hungary earlier the same week.
At the European Youth Athletics Championships in Tibilisi, Georgia Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley AC) and Brendan O’Donnell (Lifford-Strabane AC reached the finals of the High Jump and Hammer respectively. O’Donnell recorded a new Personal Best of 70.06m in Tibilisi while Finn Valley girls Arlene Crossan and Janine Boyle got to the semi-final stages of the 200m and 400m Hurdles respectively. A late injury meant that Crossan missed out on a possible chance of place in the final. Earlier in July, Crossan had won the 400m Hurdles Junior U-20 Final in Tullamore.
There was double delight for Donegal GAA at Croke Park on the last Saturday in July as both the senior and minors won their respective All-Ireland Football Championship quarter-finals. The Minors defeated Cork 2-13 to 0-13 points in the curtainraiser. After a sluggish first half, which saw them trail by four points Sean Paul Barrett’s boys produced a much better performance after the break to setup a semi-final meeting with Galway. Earlier in the month the Minors had triumphed in the Ulster Final by defeating Derry.
The Donegal seniors played well in spells on their way to a 0-21 to 1-15 win over Cork with Paddy McBrearty in sparkling form, hitting 11 points in one of the best individual displays witnessed at GAA Headquarters for many years.
Letterkenny 24/7 club member Aidan Callaghan produced a great performance in his first ever Iron Man event in Bolton to qualify for the World Triathlon Championships in Hawaii. Burtonport’s Joe Duffy got back to winning ways taking only 25 seconds to see off the challenge of Canadian Mitch Clarke at the MCM Grand in Las Vegas. It was fourth fastest submission in UFC Lightweight history. It was also Duffy’s 13th win from 15 professional bouts. It was a good July for the Irwin brothers from Kilmacrennan with podium finishes for Caolan and Rhys during Round 5 of the British Championships at Oulton Park at the beginning of the month. Rhys followed that up with a great weekend at the Irish Masters Championships held at the Mondello National Race Track. On an Aprilia the 14-year-old won his own 125cc category and was also the overall class winner getting the better of the higher powered 300cc Kawaskis while also breaking the lap record. Rhys is now the holder of both the Irish and International records at the Mondello Track. Another Kilmcarennan lad Richard Kerr had 3rd and 8th place finishes at the British Superbike Championships at Snetterton. Kerr followed that up a the next round of the championships in Thruxton with 10th and 5th places.
The Magee siblings Chloe and Sam made the quarter-finals of the US Open Grand Prix Gold event in Los Angeles. Chloe reached the last eight in the singles and along with her brother Sam also made it to the mixed doubles quarter-finals. Donegal retained their All-Ireland U21 Hurling C title with a 3-7 to 1-2 win over Fermanagh in Omagh. In athletics Christopher Doherty from Tirconaill AC won the Pole Vault at the Irish U23 and Junior Championships in Tullamore. Two of his club colleagues Kate McGowan and Kelly McGrory both had second places in the Junior U-20 400m Hurdles and U23 400m Hurdles Finals respectively in Tullamore.
There was disappointment for Donegal Town man Karl Griffin who failed to qualify for the European Championships 800m Final in Amsterdam but he did run a season’s best time in his heat. Letterkenny AC’s David Smith won gold in the U15 800m Final at the All-Ireland Juvenile Championships in Tullamore while Oisin Kelly of Cranford AC took silver in the U13 600m event. Dylan Kearns of Finn Valley AC won two silver medals at the All-Ireland Juvenile Championships in Tullamore. He was a member of the 4x100m relay team who came second and also finished runner-up in the Javelin.
The Donegal Gaeltacht Riding Club performed well at the Generali Open World Club Team Show Jumping Tournament in Lamotte-Beuvron, France finishing fourth behind the host nation. The team included Cassandra McGee, Derrybeg; Mickey McHugh, Falcarragh; Trish Warren, Falcarragh and John McDaid, Creeslough. The Chef d’Equipe was Lawrence Smyth, Falcarragh assisted by Frances McGee, Derrybeg. Sisters Geraldine and Nicole McLaughlin were members of the Kerry Donegal team that won the New York Championship.
In Motorsport at the start of the month Declan and Brian Boyle finished third at the Lurgan Park Rally on a Saturday. And the following day the cousins in their Ford Fiesta WRC won the Smartpart ALMC Rally in Trim in the fifth round of the Triton Showers National Championship.
After a good start to July by Finn Harps when Ollie Horgan’s side made it three wins in a row thanks to a 1-0 victory over Galway Utd in Ballybofey there followed successive 1-0 defeats at the hands of both Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds and Wexford Youths in Ballybofey. After an outstanding career Shay Given announced his retirement from international football after 124 appearances for his country from when he made his debut in March 1996.
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