July joy for Donegal Sports Stars
There was a huge spread of athletic successes during July while boxing, GAA, horseracing, rugby, motorcycling, motorsport, soccer and swimming also feature in the latest edition of the Donegal Sports Star Awards monthly review.
July was busy and good for Finn Valley Club members John Kelly and Sommer Lecky who were in action at the European Classic Grand Prix in Karlstad Sweden early in the month. St. Johnston man Kelly finished third in the Shot Putt, throwing 17.66m while Lecky’s best leap in the High Jump was 1.77m. Meanwhile, back at home there was gold for Lecky in the Junior High-Jump at the National U20 / U23 Athletics Championships in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. John Kelly’s brother James took the Junior Shot-Putt title at the same Championships. Also in Tullamore Finn Valley athlete Oisin Gallen won bronze in the 1500m. Following their successes Lecky and Kelly were named in the Irish U20 team for the European Championships in Sweden. Lecky qualified for the High Jump Final in Sweden with a leap of 1.81m but the Finn Valley AC member failed in her bid for a Euro medal. And there was no joy either for her club colleague James Kelly who failed to progress in the Shot Putt.
Back at the National Underage Championships there were medals in Tullamore for Shane Irwin of Finn Valley in the 400m and Sarah Kelly of Inishowen AC in the Junior 3000m. Letterkenny AC member Niamh Kelly gained a 3000m track PB of 10.06 as she picked up bronze in the Under 23 Championships in Tullamore. There was silver for Bridget McDyre (Rosses AC) in the Distance Throwing event while Tirconaill AC’s Caolan O Callaghan took silver medal in the Triple Jump. On the Sunday there were gold medals at the National Underage Championships for Lauren Callaghan in the triple jump and Blaine Lynch set a new Irish record in winning the javelin. It was gold also for Oisin Kelly of Cranford in the 800m and Letterkenny AC’s Patrick McDaid won a bronze medal in the same race. Tirconaill AC’s Riona Doherty took silver in the hurdles while her club colleague Ben Campbell (100m Hurdles) also picked up a silver medal. Another Tirconaill AC member Niamh Mohan won gold in the 80m U16 Hurdles Final. There were bronze medals for Eoin Sharkey (U18 100m Hurdles) and Tori Murchan (U15 High Jump). Letterkenny AC’s Michella Galvin took gold in the U16 Triple Jump
In early July, Letterkenny AC’s Conor Gallagher put on a tremendous track performance as he picked up the bronze medal at the Northern Ireland/Ulster 10000m Championship in Magherafelt. His time of 33.51 was a track PB for the distance. Letterkenny AC member Annmarie McGlynn had a superb run as she ran 33.38 for 10000m in Highgate, London. She was competing as a member of the Irish team at the European Cup 10k.
In the middle of the month, Ramelton man Shane Irwin’s bid for success with the Irish 4x400m team in the European U23 Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden ended in disappointment. Shane and his three team mates were eliminated after the heats. On the international front Finn Valley’s Brian O’Domhnaill was first in his age category and fifth in the 10,000 metres walk. at the North & Central American and Caribbean World Masters Athletics (NCCWMA) Regional Championships in Toronto, Canada.
Later in July John Kelly made more headlines as the Finn Valley AC man set a new Donegal and Ulster record in the Shot Putt with a throw of 18.01m at a competition in Sweden. And then at the National Track & Field Championships John Kelly and Mollie Gribbin, also of Finn Valley AC, picked up medals for the Shot Putt and Long Jump respectively.
Kelly took silver after throwing a 17.66m to win his medal while Gribbin jumped 5.9m to finish second also.
At the same championships Lifford-Strabane AC member Gareth Crawford set a new Donegal Senior Record in the Javelin. Crawford threw 64.13m, to take a silver medal.
Tír Chonaill AC’s Kelly McGrory was a silver medal winner at the National Senior Track & Field Championships in Santry as she set a new Donegal record in the 400m Hurdles in a time of 60.44. Finn Valley AC’s Sommer Lecky won silver in the High Jump with a 1.80m at the same Championships while her club colleague Brendan Boyce took a silver medal in the 10,000m Race Walk. The Milford man’s time was 42 minutes 1.26 seconds. The winner was Alex Wright of Leevale AC in 41.30.41
Mark English won the 800m national title in Santry in a time of 1.48.15. Mark, running in the UCD AC colours has now won the National 800m title seven times.
In badminton Sam and Chloe Magee continued their good form from the European Games by winning silver medals at the Russia White Knights international challenge event. They reached the final with two wins on Saturday, beating English pair Rory Easton and Slan Kelly 21-15 21-13 and Indian duo Krishna Prasar Garaga and S Ram Poorvisha 21-11 21-18. The Magees who were the winners of the tournament in 2015, lost out to the number one seeds and defending champions from Russia Rodion Alimove and Alina Davletova by 2-1. Having lost the first set 21-16, Chloe and Sam won the second 21-13. However, the Russians came back to take the title with a 21-16 win in the third and final set.
On the first Saturday of July, Illies Golden Gloves boxer Carleigh Irvine won the Irish Junior Cadets Final at the National Stadium after defeating Glin’s Angelina Duffy in the 46kgs category.
Five days late, on her international debut, Irvine defeated an Italian opponent in the 46kgs category at a Schoolgirls tournament in Edenderry. As a result of those successes Carleigh was named in the 32-strong Irish squad for the European Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Championships in Georgia.
Abroad, Jason Quigley suffered the first defeat of his professional boxing career when the Twin Towns middleweight lost his North American title after being stopped by Tureano Johnson in California. Quigley did not come out from his corner for the tenth and final round. There was a fifth national boxing title for Leah Gallen as the Raphoe ABC member won the national U18 69kgs title in Dublin and will now represent Ireland at the European Youth Championships in Sofia Bulgaria from the 2nd to the 11th of September
Talented Glenswilly cyclist Conor Gallagher was included in an Irish team that will take part in the World Youth Tour in Austria. Conor’s selection came after doing well at trials in Kerry. Bundoran girl Ella Clancy and Kelly-Rose Flanagan (Carndonagh) qualified to compete at the Dublin Horse Show which takes place at the RDS.
In the sport of GAA, Glenfin Club player Katy Herron signed a contract with Women’s A-F-L side the Western Bulldogs. Midfielder Herron was a key player in Donegal’s third Ulster title in-a-row triumph. Donegal Senior Men’s and Ladies players Jamie Brennan and Geraldine McLaughlin were recognised for outstanding performances in June, by winning the Player of the Month awards. Brennan got the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June while McLaughlin picked up the Croke Park / LGFA Player of the Month award.
Two Donegal players Sean McDaid and Michael Ward were named on the Ireland Masters squad to play Australia in an International Rules test in Cavan.The Donegal Masters men had a 2-15 to 0-09 win over Cavan in the All-Ireland Championship series. In the middle of the month a nine-point win certainly flattered Donegal but it was a case of job done and a Super 8s opener win over Meath at a sunny McCumhaill Park. A week later, a last gasp Michael Murphy free secured Donegal a draw against Kerry in a highly entertaining second game in the Super 8s at Croke Park.
Maxi Curran’s plan to secure the Donegal Senior Ladies an opening group win in the TG4 Ladies All-Ireland Senior Football Championship series on was upset by underdogs Tyrone (3-12 to 3-9) at Cusack Park, Mullingar. And the massive effort put in by the Donegal Ladies during the season ended in big disappointment as Mayo advanced to the quarter-finals of the All-Ireland Championship after a three-point Group win (1-22 to 3-12) in O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
Ballyshannon native Donal Scott was a coach to the Irish Women’s golf team at the European Championships in Italy. And young Dunfanaghy golfer James T Sweeney was named on the Ulster U14 team to play in an inter-provincial Championship in Athlone.
13 gymnasts from the Donegal Finesse Gymnastics Club represented Ireland at the World Gymnaestrada in Dornbirn Austria. It was only the second time in WG history that Ireland has been in attendance.
It was a month full of success for Donegal jockeys including the Orr brothers, Luke McAteer and Dylan Browne McMonagle. Rathmullan jockey Oisin Orr was in the winners enclosure yet again, this time in Roscommon. Orr rode Forest View to victory in the Budweiser Maiden for trainer John Kiely. It was Oisin’s 30th winner of the season. His brother Conor Orr rode the 50/1 Ray Hackett trained ‘Rock On Bennie’ to victory in the Finbarr Quaid Electrical Mares Handicap Hurdle at a meeting in Cork.
In the middle of July there was a good weekend for the Orr siblings as they rode winners at horse racing meetings in Cork and Fairyhouse. Conor rode 50/1 shot, the Ray Hackett trained ‘Rock On Bennie’ to victory in the Finbarr Quaid Electrical Mares Handicap Hurdleat Cork on the Friday. On the Sunday Oisin rode the Peter Fahey trained Eadbhard to victory in the Summer Evening Racing 17th July Handicap.
The Orr brothers and Luke McAteer, also from Rathmullan were in the winners enclosures in Killarney and Leopardstown on the one day. In Killarney Conor Orr was first home on 5/2 favourite Whenurgoodurgood in the Dawn Milk Omega Maiden Hurdle for trainer Nigel Slevin. At Leopardstown Luke McAteer won the SAP Concur Apprentice Handicap on Suaimhneach at 11/1 for trainer Jim Bolger. Also in Leopardstown, in the Carnival Extravaganza Maiden, Oisin Orr was on the 11/4 joint favourite Luruxiant for trainer Dermot Weld.
The Orrs also had winners at horse racing meetings in Cartmel and at the Curragh on the same day. Conor’s victory came in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Hurdle at Cartmel on the the Noel C Kelly trained Decor Irlandais. Oisin’s success came in the final race of the day at the Curragh. He won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF on board the Dermot Weld trained Mia Maria.
It was also a July of joy for Dylan Browne McMonagle who had a total of nine winners between race meetings in Bundoran and Broadford, Co. Limerick on one weekend. The Letterkenny teenager followed that up with the long journey to Taghmon Co Wexford where he bagged another treble bringing his total this season to 44. Dylan and Philip Byrnes shared the honours at the Big Isle Manorcunningham race meeting when both jockeys won five races each. Brandon Wilkie made the long trek to Ballyconneelly in West Connemara Co Galway. He had a red letter afternoon by taking the 138cm on Little Spirit and then recording his double when West Boots took the 12 furlong open.
Two former Raphoe players Alexander Tinney and Luke Witherow were named on the Irish hockey team for a European U21 Tournament in the Czech Republic. In motorcycling, Kilmacrennan teenager Rhys Irwin was in World Superbikes action in Donington Park as part of the British Talent Cup road to Moto GP team. Rhys was strong at the front but was pipped for the podium on the last bend on the Saturday. In Sunday’s race he again started from the front row showing great form and had another strong finish, overall leaving him just a few points separating the top riders for the Championship.
Rhys and his older brother Caolan were then in action at the British Superbike Championship at Snetterton, Norfolk. Rhys was back in British Talent Cup action while Caolán was running in the British National Superstock 600 class. The Kilmac boys had another positive weekend with Caolán just missing out on a podium in the Superstock class while Rhys showed his ability to overcome problems with two strong fightbacks from last on the grid following a qualifying crash.
Another Kilmacrennan lad, Richard Kerr had a great round 6 of the Championships at Snetterton. Riding the Campbell Motorsport Triumph, Richard had a few steady practice sessions and qualified in 13th position (10th Supersport) as the Moto Two Class runs alongside the Supersports.
Richard had a great Race 1 and was in the top ten all through, eventually finishing in a fantastic 7th position in the Supersport Class.
Richard lined up on row 5 for race two and after taking a few laps to sort themselves out the Kilmac man was in 9th position in the Supersports and three seconds off a six man battle for 5th place.
In the middle of July, Pettigo man Kevin Eves and his co-driver Chris Melly in a Toyota Corolla were first in the two-wheel drive category and fourth overall in the Sligo Stages Rally. Ryan Moore in a Honda Civic won the Junior (Class 16) category. At the start of the month there was disappointment for Gartan’s Mya Alcorn as the Irish Girls Under 18s Rugby Sevens team suffered a narrow defeat in the Paris World Games final. The girls in green were at the top of their game up until their final match, having won five out of their five matches. Alcorn played her part in 39-5 and 31-0 victories on the Sunday. Mya, who plays her club rugby with Letterkenny was also part of the Irish squad that won three games on the Saturday, scoring a total of 117 points and conceding just 17.
Finn Harps made a great start to July, making it four points from two league games after drawing for the second time with Cork City this season. Then there was a setback for Ollie Horgan’s side in their battle for Premier Division survival after losing 1-0 to bottom of the table UCD. However, Harps then bounced back with an away win over Waterford and a rare victory over Derry City at Finn Park. Both were 1-0 wins with Mikey Place the scorer against Waterford while Harry Ascroft got the all important goal against the Candystripes.
There were impressive performances from two Finn Harps Girls Academy teams at a tournament in Dublin over the weekend. The U13s reached the final at their age group while the U15s made it to the semi-finals stages. Three Donegal women Zoe Green (Rathmullan), Zoe McGlynn (Raphoe) and Gemma McGuinness (Greencastle) were members of the the Irish international soccer team who won their first group match at the World University Games, 1-0 against reigning champions Brazil in the Stadio Mauro in Naples and on to qualify for the semi-final where they lost 5-0 to North Korea in Naples.
Letterkenny Celtic U10s won an international tournament in Wroclaw, Poland. Ballybofey man Oisin Merritt was one of the goal scorers as the Republic of Ireland Cerebral Palsy had a big 10-1 win over Finland in Seville in a World Cup opener. On the last Sunday of July, Balllyshannon’s Cora Rooney won gold in the Backstroke 100m and 200m events at the National Championships as well as a bronze in the Individual Medley.
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