Donegal enjoyed a range of sporting successes in April with athletics, badminton, GAA, martial arts and soccer all featuring in the monthly review.
Among the highlights was undoubtedly Chloe Magee’s qualification for a third successive Olympic Games (her place in Rio was finally confirmed on Friday).
The Raphoe woman, who represented her country in Beijing and London, defeated a Portagese opponent Telma Santon in France to clinch her place at the Rio Olympics.
It was a good month for martial arts as Convoy’s TJ McMenamin won two gold medals in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the 2016 European IBJJF NO-GI Championships at the Palazzetto dello Sport, Piazza Apollodoro in Rome, Italy. Bryan Gorman from Donegal Town also secured a European NO-GI silver medal in the Masters brown belt category at the same championships.
Meanwhile Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club members Jamie Lee Simpson and Emma Dolan won bronze medals at the Scottish International Open Championships in Glasgow.
There was also the remarkable return to top flight soccer of Ramelton man Conrad Logan after a 16-month injury absence. Just after signing a short-term loan deal the 30-year-old goalkeeper turned in a man-of-the-match performance including two saves in a penalty shoot-out to help Hibernian secure a place in the Scottish Cup Final against Glasgow Rangers.
In the middle of April history was made at the UK Sportshall Championships in Manchester when the Donegal U15 Boys took the international title for the first time in the 40-year history of the event.
The winning team included Pauric Harrold, Liam Keane, Thomas Mullen, Aaron McGrath and Joe Sharkey.
There were also super national athletics successes for Tirconaill AC’s Kate McGowan representing University College Dublin and John Kelly for Letterkenny IT who both won gold medals at the Irish Universities Championship Finals in Santry. Kelly took the Shot Putt title with a throw of 16.16 setting a new Donegal record. McGowan was winner of the 400m hurdles in a time of 63.08.
In soccer Letterkenny Rovers reached their first ever FAI Intermediate Cup Final with a 2-0 replay win over Ringmahon Rangers from Cork at Leckview Park.
In early April, Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin got the first goal as the Republic of Ireland U19s defeated Azerbaijan 3-0 in the second game of the Elite qualifiers in Dublin.
The April GAA highlights included Geraldine McLaughlin’s remarkable personal tally of 4-12 as Letterkenny I.T. won the Higher Education Ladies Football Donaghy Cup Final 4-15 to 3-15 against IT Blanchardstown at the UCD Campus.
Cloughaneely club woman Roisin Curran and Deirdre Foley (Carndonagh) were named on the 2016 Ladies Higher Education All-Star team after playing key roles on the UCD side that took the O’Connor Cup title while Glenswilly’s Philip O’Donnell won an Independent.ie Football Rising Stars Award for his performances with Dublin City University who reached the final of the Sigerson Cup.
An injury-time Aidan McLaughlin goal helped the Donegal Minors make it back-to-back Ulster League title wins in a 3-9 to 1-13 victory over Tyrone.
In early April after a ten-year gap there was national success for Letterkenny Boxing Club when Paddy McShane won the Boy 3 3kgs Final at the National Stadium in Dublin in a unanimous decision against MJ O’Brien.
There was also a national title at the same championships for young Dunfanaghy ABC fighter Bernie McDonagh in the Boy 1 36kg category.
Rory Gallagher’s Donegal senior side suffered a heavy ten-point defeat in the National Football League Division 1 semi-final, 1-20 to 0-13, against Dublin in Croke Park.
In the middle of the month Loreto Community School Milford recorded a 9-18 to 8-6 win over St. Clare’s Ballyjamesduff to win the Corn Mac Neasa (U14 1/2) Ulster Final in Garvaghy while the Donegal Minor Hurlers lifted the Ulster Shield title thanks to a 3-14 to 3-9 victory over Tyrone at Celtic Park.
The Donegal senior ladies booked their place in the Division 2 League Final for the second successive year in a 0-13 to 0-6 win over Cavan in Beragh, Co. Tyrone.
In hockey the Raphoe senior ladies side stayed in the hunt for promotion after 4-2 home win over Ballycastle with the help of Kimberley Porter hat-trick.
Declan and Brian Boyle, in their Ford Fiesta WRC, secured a convincing win the Circuit of Kerry Rally in the second round of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship.
Shaun Sharkey won the Donegal County Pool Championship Final for the second time in three years and also helped Owenie’s Bar to the team title.
In rugby Donegal Town RFC won the Ulster U18 Shield Final 14-10 against City of Derry in Cookstown.
At the beginning of the month Amy Boyle Carr (St Columba’s Comprehensive, Glenties) and vice-captain Tyler Toland (Deele College Raphoe both scored in the Republic of Ireland U15s 5-0 win over Wales in the Bob Docherty Tournament in Wales.
The dream of an Oscar Traynor Cup title came to an end at the semi-final stage for the Donegal Junior League who lost 3-1 to Clare in Ennis.
In April Finn Harps lost three times: 1-0 away to Galway Utd; 2-1 to St. Patrick’s Athletic in Ballybofey and 3-1 to Cork City at Turner Cross. An early Dave Scully goal gave Ollie Horgan's side a fortunate 1-0 win over Bray Wanderers in Ballybofey while at the end of the month, Harps drew 1-1 draw at Wexford Youths.
In the EA Sports Cup, Harps lost 4-2 on penalties to Galway Utd at Eamonn Deacy Park.
Gweedore’s Mark Walsh impressed as the Republic of Ireland U15 side recorded back to back victories over the Czech Republic to finish their international season on a high.
Adrian Delap and Gareth Doherty came on as second half subs while B.J. Banda was a squad member as the Republic of Ireland Schoolboys side defeated Scotland in Killarney.