May was a memorable month on the international front for Donegal’s sporting stars with stunning successes respectively in cycling, soccer, badminton and basketball for Philip Deignan, Seamus Coleman, Chloe and Sam Magee and the Hickey twins Cian and Tadhg. Back at home the Inishowen Youth and Schoolboys Academy and Carndonagh Community School both won national soccer titles while in athletics new records were set by Finn Valley AC members John Kelly and Dempsey McGuigan and Kelly McGrory (Tirconaill AC).
Apart from McGuigan all the above are previous Donegal Sports Star Award winners and will be expected to be in contention again for honours when the judging panel convenes at the end of the year to select the 2014 winners.
As he headed into the final weekend of the Giro d’Italia the highlight of the tough tour for Philip Deignan was a magnificent third place finish in a very difficult 170km, 18th stage. Seamus Coleman scooped two separate awards – Players’ Player of the Season and Everton Fans’ Player of the Season at Everton’s end-of-season awards ceremony in St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.
This double-award success came just after he was named best right-back in the Premier League on the Professional Footballer’s Association Team of the Season. Chloe and Sam Magee won the 2014 Hellas Open in Greece defeating their Bulgarian opponents 21-14, 21-10 in the final. Earlier Chloe who was second seed had been beaten in the Greek Women’s Singles Final by the number one seed also from Bulgaria on a score of 21-13, 21-13 in the decider
Reigning Donegal Sports Star ‘Basketball’ Awards title holders twins Cian and Tadhg Hickey from the Letterkenny Blaze Club helped the Ireland U-18 team to win an Invitational Tournament in France. It was the first time an Irish team had won an international tournament since 2001. And at the end of May there was further good new for Letterkenny Blaze who were crowned ‘Club of the Year’ at the annual Basketball Ireland awards ceremony at the National Arena.
It was a good month for Inishowen underage soccer with Liam Monagle’s Candonagh CS winning the school’s first ever national soccer title by overcoming Calasantius College from Oranmore, Galway 1-0 in the First Year Boys Final at the Sligo Rovers Showgrounds thanks to a stunning free-kick from Conor O’Donnell.
That success was followed up by the Inishowen Youth and Schoolboys Academy who won the National Inter-League title for the first time with a 2-0 victory over North Eastern Counties with Lee McColgan and Aidan Friel getting the goals for Diarmaid O’Brien’s side.
During May three athletes from Donegal clubs set new county and provincial records. Finn Valley AC’s Dempsey McGuigan set a new record for Donegal and Ulster with a 66-62 hammer throw at Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University. Another Finn Valley AC member John Kelly broke both the Donegal and Ulster shot putt records with a throw of 15.46m at the official opening of the new Lifford AC track.
And Tirconaill AC’s Kelly McGrory set a new 400m county record time of 62.93 at an international meeting in Greystones. In the middle of the month her club colleague Karl Griffin achieved another ‘B’ standard time for the World Junior U-20 Championships by finishing second in an 800m in a British Milers event in Watford in a time of 1.49.80.
At the end of May in his first outdoor race of the season the current Donegal Sports Star ‘Athletics’ Award holder Mark English won an 800m even at the IFAM International Meeting in Flanders, Belguim in a time of 1:46:39. Milford man Brendan Boyce competed at the World Walking Race Cup in China and an international event in Germany while at home Letterkenny AC’s Ciaran Doherty won the North West 10k in a time of 32.12 and the first woman home was Lifford AC’s Natasha Adams (35.32).
The Donegal U-15 team won an Ulster Youth Badminton title in Lurgan and the Glenties second year pupils made it a double in the schools basketball finals for ‘second years’. The girls overcame PCC Falcarragh by just a single point (30-29) while the Glenties boys had a more convincing win over PCC in their final (31-11).
Michael ‘Owen’ McLaughlin made it eight wins in his professional career defeating Pedro Gonzalez in Dorchester, Boston. Four Donegal female boxers took home titles from the National Finals. Raphoe ABC’s Cody Lafferty won the Girl 1 31kgs category; In the Youths 46kg category Ciara Anderson (Twin Towns ABC) won her final bout after a first round TKO and two Carndonagh ABC fighters Laobhrise Clarke and Rachel Dixon became champions after taking titles in their respective Girl 4 54kg and Girl 2 57kg categories.
At the end of the month Illies Golden Gloves fighter Darryl Moran won his fifth national title by defeating Stephen McKenna from Monaghan in the U-18 49kgs Final at the National Stadium. And Austeja Auciute landed her ninth national title by defeating Ciara Sheedy in the U-18 64ks Final at the National Boxing Stadium.
In cycling Errigal CC’s Ciara Doogan won the Road Race in the U-14 Category and was second overall in Kanturk, Co. Cork. On the May Bank Holiday Monday and for the fifth successive year the Termon Ladies side lifted the the County Senior Gaelacht title thanks to a 4-11 to 2-9 victory over Glenfin. On the same day Kilcar won the County Senior Gaelacht title with a 1-9 to 0-8 win over Glenswilly at the Naomh Mhuire grounds while Naomh Columba had an easy 2-15 to 0-5 win over Na Rossa in the County Junior Gaelacht Final.
In underage club GAA there were county titles for Gweedore (Minor League Division 1); Glenswilly (U-14 Division 3); St. Michael’s (Minor Division 2); McCumhaills (U-14 Division 1); Kilcar (U-14 Division 2) and Downings were crowned U-14 Division 3.
Donegal got their Ulster Senior Football Championship campaign off to the perfect start with a 1-11 to 0-11 win over pre-match favourites Derry at Celtic Park. The County Minors also advanced to the provincial semi-final with a 1-10 to 0-8 win over Derry in the curtainraiser at same venue.
Four Master and county senior player Luke Keaney a student at Ulster University Jordanstown was named on a Colleges All-Star team at a function in Belfast. Karen Feeney (Cloughaneely) and Kate Keaney (Four Masters) were members of the Ulster Senior Ladies Football team that won the Inter-provincial title with a 2-8 to 0-7 victory over Connacht in Kinnegad.
Defending champions Donegal bowed out of the Nicky Rackard Cup at the semi-final stage losing by two points (2-11 to 1-12) against Fingal at the O’Donnell Park after leading 1-8 to 0-1 at a stage in the first half. St. Eunan’s won the County Minor B Hurling League Final with a 1-16 to 0-13 victory over Carndonagh in Burt.
And the Donegal Minor hurlers came close to causing an upset only losing by two points to Derry in an Ulster Championship quarter-final at the O’Donnell Park on a final score of 3-8 to 1-12.
In motorsport Wesley Patterson and Johnny Baird won the Mark II Escort Challenge Rally in Carlow while there was a first place finish for Willie McFadden and Brendan McElhinney in an Escort G3 at the Lark in the Park. Dungloe’s Shaun Sharkey won the county pool championship title with a 7-2 final win over Shane Faulkner from Donegal Town at Jameson’s Bar, Drumkeen.
After suffering two 1-0 defeats at the beginning of May in the league to Shamrock Rovers B and the EA Sports Cup to Galway Utd, Finn Harps drew their next three First Division games against Galway, league leaders Shelbourne and Ollie Horgan’s side came from 2-0 down to earn a share of the spoils with Wexford Youths at Ferrycarrig thanks to goals from Kevin McHugh on his 400th appearance for the club and a late equalizer from Packie Mailey. But Harps had a sixth player sent off this season when Tommy Bonnar was dismissed for a second yellow card offence.
For the first time since joining Derry City the McNamee brothers Barry and Tony from Ramelton started in a competitive game together and it was a winning experience 1-0 against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds in the EA Sports Cup. Letterkenny man Cillian Morrison came of the bench to score the winner for UCD who bounced back to take the three points on a 2-1 final score against Drogheda Utd at the Belfield Bow.
Letterkenny Rovers player Gareth Doherty featured in all three games for the Republic of Ireland in a UEFA Development Tournament in Switzerland.
The Swilly Rovers U-15s bid for national glory ended at the semi-final stage as the Ramelton side were hammered 9-1 by one of the top schoolboys teams in the country St. Kevin’s Boys from Dublin.
Cranford FC retained their place in the Premier Division but only just after overcoming Castlefin Celtic 4-2 on penalties in a Promotion/Relegation Play-off at Ballyare. For the first time Illistrin FC won a Champions League title as their U-16s defeated Keadue 4-2 in a penalty shootout. Glenea Utd Reserves were crowned Downtown Cup champions with a 1-0 victory Castlefin Celtic Reserves.
Castlefin Celtic won the Brian McCormick Cup title for the first time thanks to a dramatic last minute extra-time goal from J.P. Malley goal that finally saw off nine men Milford by 2-1 in the end.
There was bitter disappointment for the Donegal U-15 Schoolboys side who lost 3-2 after extra-time to Cork in an SFAI U-15 Inter-League semi-final played in Donegal Town.
In the middle of the month Ramelton’s Kyle Callan McFadden played for the Republic of Ireland U-19s in a 2-0 international friendly defeat by Mexico at Dalymount Park. Letterkenny Rovers defeated Swilly Rovers 4-1 to win the Letterkenny and District U-16 Schoolboys League Cup Final at Bonagee thanks to a hat-trick from B.J. Banda.
Raphoe Town won the Ulster Junior Shield for the first time with a 2-1 victory over Aileach FC in the final at Maginn Park with the two goals coming from Jamie Gallagher. Eamonn Sheridan from Premider Division champions Rathmullan Celtic won the ‘Player of the Year’ award at the Donegal Junior League’s annual presentation function.
There was heartbreak for the Donegal U-12 side who lost 5-4 on penalties in the SFAI Final to Waterford in Tipperary. Swilly Rovers U-12s won the Donegal Champions League Final with a 3-0 victory over Gweedore Celtic in the final with the goals coming from Aaron Curran and a double from Dylan Dorrian.
The Letterkenny Rovers youths completed a treble of domestic trophies by winning the Ulster Cup by defeating Cockhill Celtic 3-0 at the Aileach FC grounds. There was disappointment for young Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club member Christine Russell whose hopes of qualifying for the Junior Olympics in China were dashed despite finishing well after a bike crash at the European Championships in Holland.
Lifford AC members had success at the Ulster Secondary Schools Championships at the Antrim Forum with golds for Brendan O’Donnell (St. Eunan’s College) in the Junior Boys hammer and Brandon Connolly, Royal & Prior in the Junior Boys 80m Hurdles.
Scoil Colmcille Greencastle won the FAI Primary Schools’ 5-a-side girls title at the Aviva Stadium defeating the champions from the other three provinces on the final. And one of their players Kate McClenaghan was awarded ‘Player of the Tournament’.