SUCCESS IN DONEGAL sport was in plentiful supply in September with some marvelous achievements at home and abroad.
By Declan Kerr (Donegal Sports Star PRO)
All of these successes will be expected to feature in the nominations list for the 40th Donegal Sports Star Awards, which will take place at the end of January. Among the highlights last month were Brett McGinty’s silver medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa; Sinead Jennings reaching the qualification in rowing for the 2016 Olympic Games while Mark English’s return to form continued as the Letterkenny man set new Irish records at both the 500m and 600m distances in the space of a week.
Gymnast Patrick Quinlivan followed up his Olympic success in Los Angeles by winning two silver medals at the 2015 Disability British Championships while Raphoe’s Rachael Darragh picked up gold in both the women’s singles and doubles at the Irish U19 Open Badminton Championships.
Among the other high achievers in September were John Joe McGee (draughts), Ciara Doogan (cycling), Roma McLaughlin (soccer), Triona McMenamin (surf-lifesaving and Triathlon), Pauric McKinney (athletics), Oisin Orr (horseracing), Donegal’s five Ulster GAA All-Stars and Finn Harps who secured their play in the promotion play-offs.
In early September the reigning Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner Mark English set a new Irish 600m record after finishing second in a time of 1:15.71 at the Flame Games in Amsterdam. A week later the Letterkenny man broke the one-minute mark for 500m at the Great North City Games in Newcastle clocking 59.58 seconds for the distance.
In the middle of the month Pauric McKinney set a new national Over 50 record for the 5k with a time of 15.31 at the Donegal senior 5k road championships in Letterkenny where the Inishowen AC man finished second overall.
At the beginning of the month Raphoe’s Rachael Darragh won gold in both the women’s singles and doubles at the Irish Under-19 Open in Baldoyle, Dublin.
Darragh – a niece of double Olympic badminton player Chloe Magee – defeated Holly Newall from Scotland in the women’s singles final with a magnificent display to win 21-18, 21-5. Rachael then teamed up with Sara Boyle to defeat Sweden’s Tilda Sjoo and Ella Soderstrom over two games in the women’s doubles decider (21-15, 21-13). Rachael also won silver in the mixed doubles.
Rachael’s uncle Joshua Magee was selected as part of Badminton Europe’s Future Stars Project. The aim of the project is to help players bridge the gap between Junior and Senior badminton. Three Letterkenny Blaze Basketball Club members Kathleen Kelly, Eilis Dolan and Laura Kealy were members of the Northern Ireland squad who played the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Scotland.
St. Johnston boxer Brett McGinty (pictured above) reached the 69kgs final at the Commonwealth Youth Games by defeating Australian Jack Gipp on a unanimous decision at the Tuana’Imato Sports Facility in Samoa. And while there was subsequent disappointment the following the day after narrowly losing out to English fighter Mohammed Harris Akbar, McGinty had still secured a super silver medal.
At the beginning of September Raphoe woman Hazel Magee captained Strabane Saints to an historic double when the club captured the North West League title. The club had already won the NWCU Ladies Cup.
Team Donegal Oil members Sean McFadden, Arthur McMahon, Gavin Harris and Michael McGarvey finished in fifth place overall after the Race Around Ireland cycle. A second two-man Donegal team of Eunan Quinn and Ted McCafferty Rentwise/ Ted’s Bike Shop were sixth overall. Gerard Callaghan and Michael Russell were members of another Donegal team, Tír Conaill Wheelers who also completed the marathon around Ireland cycle.
Gortahork girl Ciara Doogan finished 28th at the Junior Women’s Individual Team Time Trail at UCI World Road Championships in Richmond, USA. Doogan’s time for the 15k was 23 minutes and four seconds.
Meanwhile Errigal CC members Conor Halvey and Shauna McFadden had very good outings at the British Cycling UK Inter-Regional Road Championships in Nottingham. Letterkenny lad Halvey was 18th in the Street Sprint and played his part in Ulster winning the team event. Shauna McFadden also from Letterkenny was 14th in the 55k Individual Road Race. Shauna won the B section and was fifth overall.
Sean McFadden was third in his age group at the National Triathlon Series race in Lough Key, Co. Roscommon. Sean was also third overall at the Groomsport half ironman in Co. Down. His time for the half marathon was 1.41.16, which he did after a 25min 04sec swim and a 2h 32m 28sec cycle. Sean was also first in the 35-39 category.
In the middle of September a 2014 Donegal Sports Star Award winner Buncrana man John Joe McGee took the Northern Ireland Draughts Open Championship at the Greenvale Hotel Cookstown. While there were players from all over Europe taking part it turned out to be an all Inishowen final with McGee defeating fellow Buncrana man Billy Kelly in the decider. John Joe is the reigning All Ireland Senior Champion.
There was further success for Letterkenny gymnast Patrick Quinlivan as he won two silver medals at the 2015 Disability British Championships in Bolton. The 31-year-old faced very stiff opposition including the winner of three golds at the Olympics in Los Angeles.
Patrick won silver medals in the Vault and Rings. And he was also very proud of the fact that he featured on the front cover of the official programme for Sunday’s finals.
At the start of September five Donegal players Paul Durcan, Neil McGee, Neil Gallagher, Ryan McHugh, and Michael Murphy players were named on the Irish News All-Stars Team of the Year for 2015 at a gala banquet in the Armagh City Hotel.
On the same night Termon Ladies star Geraldine McLaughlin won a Special Merit Award.
Termon’s Olive McCafferty and Karen Feeney (Falcarragh) were on the Scotland side (pictured above) that defeated Derry 1-13 to 2-5 in the TG4 All-Ireland Junior Championship semi-final at Fingallians in Dublin.
In the middle of the month the Termon Ladies won the Donegal Senior Football Championship Final with a 4-13 to 1-11 victory over Glenfin in Convoy to make it four titles in a row. On the last weekend of September reigning champions St. Eunan’s secured their place in the County Final with a comfortable 2-15 to 0-11 win over St. Michael’s to set up a meeting with Naomh Conaill who had an equally untroubled passage to the decider thanks to a 4-10 to 0-11 victory over Kilcar.
Ballybofey & Stranorlar Golf Club became the first team from the county to win the J.B. Carr Diamond Trophy Tournament. Representing Ulster the team defeated Tullamore and Tuam in the semi-final and final respectively at the Woodenbridge G.C. in Wicklow.
Raphoe Hockey Club players Alexander Tinney, Ben Wallace and Luke Witherow (pictured above) were all members of the Ulster team who won gold at the U18 Sainsbury School Games in Manchester. Wallace was among the goalscorers while Tinney was vice-captain of the provincial team.
In horseracing young Ballyare jockey Oisin Orr continued his excellent start in the saddle by winning at a big race meeting in Naas. The teenager rode the Eddie Lynam trained Louis Leroy to victory with just a half a length to spare. It was the fifth victory of his career to date.
On the hurling Burt lifted their fifth successive Donegal Senior Hurling title (pictured above) with a hard earned and narrow 2-7 to 0-12 win over McCumhaills at the O’Donnell Park.
In Martial Arts 10-year-old Ciaran Crawford from the Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club in Lifford won a silver medal in the U12 section at the British International Open Championships at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. There was further success for Ciaran who won another silver in the U12 Kumite section at the first ever CIKA Ireland International Open Championships held in Dublin. And at the same championships there was a bronze medal for Three Rivers Natasha Doherty in the U12 Kunite section.
At the end of September Ramelton man Brian Coyle won a bronze medal at the World Masters Jiu Jitsu Championships in Las Vegas. Coyle came third in the brown belt Master Light Featherweight Division 1.
Kilmacrennan’s Richard Kerr had a mixed weekend at round 10 of the Motostar Championship outing at Oulton Park in Cheshire but still managed a 13th place finish to secure three valuable points.
On the first Saturday in September, Letterkenny woman Sinead Jennings and her partner in the lightweight women’s double sculls, Claire Lambe took a giant step towards qualification for next year’s Olympic Games by finishing third in the World Rowing Championships B final at Aiguebelette in France.
Three Letterkenny RFC players Joseph Dunleavy (wing-forward), Daniel Faulkner (centre) and Peter Scott (full-back) started on the Ulster U18 team who lost 15-8 to Connaught in an opening Intro-provincial developmental match at Rainey RFC in Magherafelt.
At the beginning of September Leitirmacaward’s Carl McHugh scored the winner for Plymouth Argyle in the Football League Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at AFC Wimbledon in a 3-2 victory. It was a good month for Rathmullan’s Zoe Green, who played two the full 90 minutes in back-to-back international friendlies against Scotland. In the first match the Irish defeated Scotland 1-0 but lost the second 3-0.
Shay Given, Seamus Coleman and Ciaran Clark were members of the Republic of Ireland starting 11 that defeated Georgia 1-0 at the Aviva Stadium to keep alive their hopes of qualification for next year’s European Championships.
Ballybofey’s Johnny Dunleavy captained Cork City to a 3-0 replay win over Derry City at Turners which secured the Leesiders a place in the FAI Senior Cup semi-final against Bray Wanderers.
Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin (pictured above) featured at stages in all three games as the Republic of Ireland U19 Ladies secured a place in the UEFA European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers after three group games in Slovenia. Fanad woman Maz Sweeney was a member of the Irish U19 coaching staff.
The Donegal team won the National Special Olympics Soccer League for the seventh time in nine seasons by defeating Sporting Fingal 6-2 in Killygordon.
On the last Friday of September, Finn Harps made sure of second place in the League of Ireland First Division play-offs with a 3-0 win over UCD in Ballybofey. It was a result that also meant Ollie Horgan’s side would have home advantage in the second leg of the play-offs.
Amber Barrett scored twice as her new team Peamount United came from behind to clinch a place in the FAI Women’s Senior Cup semi-finals at the weekend. The Milford woman saw her side fall behind 1-0 before she swooped with two late goals to win the quarter-final for the Dublin outfit. Also in the Peamount squad was Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin who is a current Republic of Ireland U19 international.
Former Kilmacrennan Celtic striker Julianne Herrity was named the South Atlantic Conference’s AstroTurf Player of the Week after twice scoring winning goals for Carson-Newman Eagles in Jackson, Tennessee.
At the European Lifesaving Championships in Spain, Letterkenny woman Triona McMenamin won gold in the Board Race and Ocean Woman, silver in the Beach Flags and bronze in the Surf race in the 30-35 age category.
Ballyshannon’s Sara Meehan had silvers in the Ocean Woman and Surf Race and bronze in the 200m Obstacles Race, 50m Manikin Carry and Surfski Race in the 50-55 age category. In the 35-40 age category Letterkenny’s Paddy Bond won a silver medal in the Line Throw with Seamus O’Neill from Ballyshannon. Bond also had three 5th place finishes in taplin relay, 100m manikin tow with fins and the 100 manikin carry with fins.
Triona McMenamin was a coach to the Irish Junior Team that won gold in a number of categories and finished sixth overall.
McMenamin was also the highest placed member of the Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon club finishing fifth and first in her age group at the National Series race in Lough Key, Co. Roscommon. Jack Brennan and Orlaith Fogarty were also successful in the age group categories. Jack was first in his age group while Orlaith was third in her category.
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