Mark English and Philip Deignan hit the headlines again in the June review of sporting successes. And the pair will now be expected to figure prominently among the nominees for the Donegal Sports Star Awards at the end of the year. Others who starred in June included the Boyle cousins Declan and Brian who became only the second crew from the county to win the Donegal International Rally, the golfer Brendan McCarroll who won a Spanish title and jockey Martin Harley who made a welcome return from serious injury by saddling 13 winners in June.
At the beginning of the month Mark English ran a season’s best of 1:46:22 for the 800m, inside the qualification time for the European Championships, to finish fourth at an international race meeting in Holland. A week later the Letterkenny man ran a season’s best of 1:45:03 to take second place behind Kenyan world record holder David Rudisha at a Diamond League meeting in New York. And near the end of June English won again this time crossing the line first in an 800 metres at the European Team Championships in Tailum, Estonia in a time of 1.47.63.
On the first day of the month Letterkenny cyclist Philip Deignan finished 43rd overall at the end of the three week Giro d’Italia. The highlight of the tough tour for Deignan was his third place finish in a very difficult 170km, 18th stage. Deignan then came agonisingly close to winning the second stage of the Tour de Suisse. In the end the Letterkenny man had to settle for second place.
Brendan McCarroll kept his dreams of joining the elite golfing world on track by winning the Alps Tour Peugeot Trophy in Madrid while two time winner of Donegal Sports Star awards Martin Harley returned from a long serious injury lay-off to ride 13 winners during the month of June. Declan and Brian became the first Donegal crew since Vincent Bonner and Seamus McGettigan to win the Donegal International Rally. Inishowen man Sean McCarter skippered the Derry/Londonderry Yacht to a fantastic victory in the New York to Derry leg of the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race. The result put McCarter’s team fourth overall with two stages of the race remaining.
Another big news story during June was that Seamus Coleman signed a new five-year deal reportedly worth 75,000 euro annually which will see the Killybegs man stay at Everton until 2019. Also excelling last month was Inishowen AC’s Pauric McKinney who took a silver medal in the Walled City Marathon in Derry. Brendan Boyce finished fourth overall at the British & Irish Race Walking Championships in York and was the second Irish man home. Lifford AC’s Anne Marie McGlynn was fourth in the 3000m at the European Team Championships in Estonia.
Staying with athletics there was success for Tirconaill AC’s Daniel Gallagher who won Gold in the 3000m Steeplechase at the Ulster Championships at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast while his club mate Kelly McGrory was third in the 400m Hurdles. The same championships were also good for Finn Valley with James Kelly lifting Gold three times in the Boys Javelin, Shot and Discus and Sommer Lecky took double gold in the U15 Long Jump and High Jump
FV’s Mark McElhinney had Gold in the U14 Hammer and Silver in the Shot; Aaron McGlynn had double Silver in the U15 Boys 800m and 200m; Amy Boyle Carr brought home Silver in the U-14 200m; Sinead Doherty took Bronze in both the Hammer and Discus; her sister Niamh Doherty got Silver in the U14 Discus and Oisin McElhinney was a Bronze medalist in the U14 Javelin.
There were also medals for Lifford AC with Mark Doherty taking Silver in the Senior Shot and it was the same for Karen Gallagher in the U18 800m; bronze for Conor McKinney in the U18 Triple Jump; double Gold for Niall Quinn in the U14 80m and 800m’s; Gold for Stephen McCallion in the U15 Triple Jump; Claudia Cuskelly Gold in the 2000m Walk; double Silver for Shane O’Donnell in the U14 Discus and Hammer; Tom Mullen Silver in the U15 250m Hurdles and Bronze in the Shot Putt; Conor Breslin Silver in the U15 Hammer and Bronze in the 80m Hurdles and Conor McGinley Bronze in the U14 800m
It was a good month for Lifford AC who also took three Gold, six Silver and three Bronze at the Ulster Track & Field Championships at the Antrim Forum. Brendan O’Donnell took Gold in the U16 Hammer, Silver in both the Discus and Shot. Alan McGinley and Brandon Connolly took Gold and Silver respectively in the U16 250m Hurdles.
Brendan O’Donnell also did Lifford proud by taking gold with a Hammer throw of 56.17m at the Tailteann Games Inter-provincial competition at the Billy Morton Stadium.
Cranford AC’s Claragh Giles took gold in the Shot Putt and Silver in the Javelin at the Ulster Finals at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast while Christopher Murray was second in the U-20 800m in the same finals and the Tirconaill AC Senior Men’s team qualified for the National League Final.
At the European Team Championships in Tailum, Estonia the Finn Valley pair of Tori Pena was fourth in the Pole Vault while Dempsey McGuigan was eighth in the Hammer.
The boxing star of the month was undoubtedly Labhaoise Clarke from Carndonagh BC who won her fifth Irish title at the National Stadium in the Women’s Senior Cadet Championships on the last Sunday of June. She defeated Clonard’s Sophie Tierney in the final on an unanimous verdict in the Bantam Weight Division. Clarke was subsequently named on Irish squad for the European Women’s Youth Championships. Dungloe native Shaun McShane lost out narrowly to John Green in a professional boxing contest in Motherwell.
In cycling there was success for Errigal CC’s Michael McBride who won the ‘Best Young Rider’ category at the Donegal Ras. Errigal also had a good weekend at the North Down GP in Donaghadee with Donal Walsh and Odhran Doogan first and second in the U-12 race while Conor Halvey and P.J. Doogan were the winner and runner-up respectively in the U-14 event.
On the first Sunday of June the Termon ladies won the All-Ireland Senior Gaeltacht title for the fifth successive year with a 4-15 to 2-10 win over Clonbur in the final in Moycullen. Also in Moycullen, Kilcar won the All-Ireland Senior Gaeltacht title for the sixth time with a 3-14 to 0-13 victory over Michael Breathnach in the final. The McHugh cousins Ryan and Eoin scored a combined 3-7 in the decider.
Michael Murphy picked up the GAA/GPA May Player of the Month for his superb performance in Donegal’s win over Derry in the Ulster Senior Football Championship quarter-final clash at Celtic Park. And for his display in the same game the 2012 Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner Karl Lacey received the Ulster GAA Writers Association May Player of the Month award.
A little of bit of history was created by Aaron Bradley who became the first member of the Letterkenny Gaels Club to play in an All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Inter-County game when he lined out for London who lost to Limerick in a qualifier tie at Gaelic Grounds. Donegal booked their place in a fourth successive Ulster Final following 3-19 to 0-10 win over Antrim in Clones. And the Minors made it a double for the county with a 2-19 to 1-10.
In gymnastics Letterkenny girl Maria Gallagher won the Northern Ireland All Round Gymnastics Championships at Level 8 taking gold for her floor, vault and team routines and bronze on the bars.
And the Finesse Gymnastics Display Team took silver at the Dublin Fleadh. Buncrana defeated St. Eunan’s in the U14 A Donegal Hurling Championship Final in Convoy while for the first time in the club’s history Dungloe took the U-14 Division 2 county title by defeating Letterkenny Gaels
The Donegal ‘B’ pool team were beaten in the All-Ireland Championship Final in Ennis by Tyrone. In snooker John Connors took the David Hanna Donegal Snooker Championship title for the fifth time with a 5-0 win over Anthony Bonner in the final.
On the international soccer front there was disappointment for Ramelton’s Kyle Callan-McFadden as the Republic of Ireland U-19 side’s hopes of reaching the Elite UEFA Finals were ended after losing 3-1 to Serbia in a final group qualifier at the Tallaght Stadium. McFadden was captain for one game and played in all three group fixtures in Dublin over the week with the Irish winning 2-1 against Iceland before losing 2-1 to Turkey.
Letterkenny’s Ciara Grant came off the bench as a late sub for the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s team who got an injury-time winner to defeat Croatia in a crucial World Cup qualifier at the Tallaght Stadium. The Irish followed that up with an excellent draw in Russia. Meanwhile, Shane Duffy, whose father Brian is from Letterkenny, made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland senior team in a friendly 1-1 draw against Costa Rica in Philadelphia.
Cockhill Celtic’s gallant effort for a shock win over Premier Division outfit Drogheda Utd came up just short as Donal O’Brien’s side ended up losing 4-2 after leading 2-1 going into the final 20 minutes of the FAI Ford Senior Cup second round tie a the Co. Louth venue. On the same Finn Harps advanced to the third round of the FAI Ford Senior Cup with a hard earned 1-0 win over non-league Belgrove/Home Farm in Dublin thanks to an eighth minute Pat McCann goal but the hosts had played most of the game with just ten men.
In the league it was a mixed month for Ollie Hogan’s side as late goal saw Harps slump to their fifth league defeat of the season losing 1-0 to Longford Town in Ballybofey. However, on the last Friday of June the Donegal outfit recorded only their second home win of the campaign when a Ruairi Keating goal gave his side a 1-0 victory over Waterford Utd.
Ramelton’s Barry McNamee, the current Donegal Sports Star Soccer title holer, scored the first goal in a ‘Man of the Match’ performance for Derry City in a 2-0 win over Cobh Ramblers in the second round of the FAI Ford Senior Cup at St. Colman’s Park. Former Letterkenny Rovers and Derry City player Cillian Morrison completed his transfer from UCD to Cork City signing a two-and-a-half year professional contract with the Leesiders.
The Donegal Women’s U-14s side finished third at the Gaynor Cup in Limerick with an Amy Boyle-Carr giving the side managed by Brid McGinty and Johnny Baird a 1-0 win in the final. St. Catherine’s defeated Bonagee Utd 4-2 to win the Donegal Schoolboys U-14 Champions League Final at Finn Park. Ballyshannon man Matthew McGarrigle won the Metalman Swimming series at Rosses Point in Co. Sligo while Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon member Aidan Callaghan finished second at the ‘Hell of the West’ Olympic distance event in Kilkee, Co. Clare. In Primary School’s sport ssKilmacrennan NS won their fourth piece of silverware of the year by taking the county Cummann na mBunscoil Roinn 2 county title. The success came after also winning the Donegal and Ulster indoor GAA titles and the boys County FAIS soccer final.