There has been many stunning Donegal sporting successes this year and another that most certainly merits inclusion in that category is the history making Termon Ladies side who won the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Club title on the last day of November
That fantastic achievement is set to figure in the nominations for the Donegal Sports Star Awards, which take place at the end of January along with the likes of Mark English and Karl Griffin who won their respective senior and junior Irish ‘Athlete of the Year’ awards last month.
November was good for martial arts as 12-year-old Marykate Finnegan from Rossnowlagh won three gold and a silver medal at the WTKA-WKA Unified World Championships in Carrara, Italy. Illies Golden Gloves club woman Sadie Duffy was a judge at the World Elite Women’s Boxing Championships in South Korea and in the ring Twin Towns BC’s Donna Barr won her third national title.
Four members of the Magee family helped Ireland qualify for the European Mixed Team Badminton Championships while in motorsport Pettigo’s Kevin Eves was shortlisted for the Billy Coleman Award. Three former Donegal Sports Star Award winners also hit the headlines with national awards going to Triathlete Aidan Callaghan and Triona McMenamin (water sport) while Pauric McKinney was honoured for becoming the first male to complete 25 consecutive Irish Cross-Country Final races. All are again expected to be in contention when the 39th annual awards take place on Friday January 30th.
The Termon senior ladies side made history by becoming the first team male or female from the county to win an All-Ireland club adult title after a brilliant second half performance against Cork side Mourneabbey in the final in Tuam where ‘Player of the Match’ Geraldine McLaughlin scored 3-8 in the 3-12 to 1-13 victory. It was a marvelous month for Termon who had defeated the mighty Donaghmoyne in the Ulster Final and Killerin-Clonberne (Galway) in the All-Ireland semi-final. After that game McLaughlin and full-back Emer Gallagher were named on the Gaelic Life ‘Team of the Week’.
Towards the end of November Mark English was named Athletics Ireland ‘Athlete of the Year’ at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Santry, Dublin after his fantastic bronze medal at the European Championships in Zurich in August. English also picked up the ‘Track & Field’ award and another for being a member of the Irish relay team in Zurich. At the same Athletics Ireland event Donegal Town’s Karl Griffin was named ‘Junior Athlete of the Year’ following his outstanding performance at the World Championships in Oregon, USA.
Pettigo’s Kevin Eves was shortlisted for the Billy Coleman Award, which gives elite young drivers the chance to progress to the next level motorsport outside Ireland and the Magees Chloe, Sam, Joshua and their niece Rachel Darragh helped Ireland qualify for the European Mixed Team Championships by overcoming Norwary, Slovakia and Bulgaria in Dublin.
At the start of the month there was success for Letterkenny 24/7 members at the Triathlon Ireland Awards in Dun Laoghaire. Aidan Callaghan took gold, silver and bronze in his age group category. Gavin Crawford took a gold for his achievement in National Duathlon Series and National Duathlon Championship and a silver for the Sprint Championships in Newry. John Cannon was presented with gold for winning his age group in the National Aquathon. Fin Begley was a silver winner for the National Duathlon Series and Ulster Triathlon Championship. Other winners were Lisa Dalton with silver for the National Sprint Championship and Nicholas Fowell took bronze for the National Middle Distance Championships.
Another Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon member Triona McMenamin was named Irish Water Safety Sports Person of the Year in Dublin Castle. In 2015 she came home with eight Masters medals from the World Lifesaving Championships in France. She has also coached and managed national and international teams. Letterkenny AC’s Shauna McGeehan won the Women’s Ulster Novice Cross-Country Championships in Killinkere, Co. Cavan. There were also gold medals in Cavan for Cranford AC juveniles Oisin Kelly (U-11) and Johnny McGroddy (U-13).
Letterkenny AC’s Anne Marie McGlynn and Ruairi Finnegan (U-23) both finished sixth in their respective races at the National Inter County Cross Country Championships in Dundalk. Finn Valley’s Teresa McGloin was 10th overall in the women’s race. McGlynn was subsequently named on the Irish team for the European Cross Country championships.
In Basketball the St. Eunan’s College U-19 team secured their place in the semi-finals of the All-Ireland Schools Basketball.
At the begninning of November Brett McGinty lost in controversial circumstances at the European Junior Championships. The 16-year-old who fights out of the Oakleaf Club in Derry appeared to have done enough to have won the contest but instead it was the hand of his Croatian opponent who was raised at the end of the contest. In darts Donegal men John Flood, John Murray and Sean Wilson were members of the Irish darts team that lost narrowly 15-13 to Northern Ireland in Larne in an international friendly.
Donegal’s Neil McGee was named the Ulster GAA Writers’ Player of the Year at the annual banquet in Bundoran. Jim McGuinness was named ‘Personality of the Year’ and Donegal took the ‘Team of the Year’ award. St. Eunan’s were crowned Donegal senior football champions after defeating reigning title holders Glenswilly 0-9 to 0-6 at McCumhaill Park. Following the controversy over the score at the end of the Ladies Ulster Intermediate Final there was defeat for Four Masters against Monaghan Harps in the replayed decider at Garvaghy.
Meanwhile in the Junior Final at Celtic Park there was also defeat for Carndonagh against St. Dympna’s from Tyrone on a score of 2-13 to 3-7.
The St. Eunan’s U-16 side won the Division 1 League title overcoming Ardara on a 2-15 to 0-5 scoreline in Glenfin. Cloughaneely lifted the County Intermediate Football title with a 0-15 to 0-8 win over Buncrana at the O’Donnell Park and just a day later defeated Derry’s Castledawson in an Ulster quarter-final at Owenbeg
Fanad Gaels won their first ever Reserve Championship silverware winning the final against Cloughaneely at the O’Donnell Park by 2-8 to 0-12. St. Michael’s U-16s reached the Paul McGirr Ulster semi-final after a super 0-13 to 0-7 victory over Carrickmore in Dromore. The Ardara Club were presented with the Ulster Club Maith (Governance) Award. In the middle of November St. Eunan’s Reserves made it a championship double for the club by winning the County Final replay against Dungloe.
One of the younger members of the Termon Ladies team Lauren McElwaine, a Loreto Milford student, was named on the Ulster Colleges All-Star team along with Aine McMenamin of St. Eunan’s and Marie O’Reilly, Creeslough both students of Loreto Convent Letterkenny
There was huge disappointment for both St. Eunan’s and Cloughaneely who lost their respective Ulster Senior and Intermediate semi-finals. Eunan’s went down by 1-9 to 0-8 against St. Enda’s Omagh in Celtic Park while in Clones it was a 2-16 to 1-8 defeat for Cloughaneely against Warrenpoint. Milford’s Marty Barrett was presented with the Ulster Ladies Gaelic Football Association Volunteer Award at the annual provincial LGFA presentation function in Kelly’s Inn, Ballywawley. Pettigo native Laurence McGrath became the first Donegal man to be elected President of the New York GAA Board. There was disappointment for captain Michael Murphy and fellow Donegal player Neil McGee as Ireland lost the single International Rules game against Australia 56-46 at Paterson’s Stadium in Perth.
St. Eunan’s College secured their place in the quarter-finals of the McRory Cup with a 1-8 to 1-4 win over St. Macartan’s Monaghan at the Tyrone Garvaghy Centre of Excellence. There was disappointment for Urris who suffered a heavy defeat in the Ulster Junior Football Final going down by 2-12 to 0-7 to Tyrone side Rock at Owenbeg.
The Finesse Gymnastics Display Team finished their season at the Gymfusion Northern Ireland Championships, which is part of the British National Festivals Programme. At the Millennnium Forum in Derry, Finesse performed their Charleston fusion routine for the very last time. Raphoe Hockey Club boys Ben Wallace and Alexander Tinney were members of the Ulster U-16 squad that won the Irish Inter-provincial tournament in Dublin. Richard Fairman an ex Raphoe player was the Ulster coach.
The Buncrana Minor hurling team made history by the being the first team from the club to win the Ulster Shield by overcoming Fermanagh’s Lisbellaw in the final. In the middle of the month Cage fighter Joe Duffy defeated French man Julien Boussuge with a first round knockout in London. Mixed Martial Arts man Steve Coll was crowned ‘Irish Battlezone’ Champion after stopping Kilkenny’s Michael Brennan in the third of a scheduled five round contest.
In snooker Letterkenny man Anthony Bonner was beaten by number three seed Darren Morgan in his last 32 match at the World Amateur Masters Snooker Championships in Bangalore, India. At the beginning of November Ramelton’s Conrad Logan saved his third penalty in the space of a month when he stopped a spot-kick for Rochdale in their 3-0 home win over Preston North End which helped his side to fourth place in the League One table.
There was a disappointing day for Donegal players at the Aviva Stadium. Letterkenny’s Ciara Grant was on the UCD side that lost 2-1 after extra-time to Raheny Utd in Women’s FAI Cup Final. In the men’s final there was defeat for Ramelton’s Barry McNamee, Sean Houston (Letterkenny), Mark Timlin (Buncrana) and Ciaran Gallagher as their Derry City team went down 2-0 to St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Leitircmacaward’s Karl McHugh was nominated for the Sky Bet League Two ‘Player of the Month’ for October after impressive central defensive displays for Plymouth Argyle. Shane Duffy, the young Derry man with strong Letterkenny family links, scored his debut goal for Blackburn Rovers in a 2-2 draw with Milwall at the New Den in a Championship clash.
There was defeat for Seamus Coleman’s Republic of Ireland in a European Championship qualifier going down 1-0 to Scotland at Parkhead. Shay Given won his 127th cap in a friendly fixture at the Aviva Stadium where the Irish won 4-1 against the USA. Dungloe lad James Boyle was named on the Republic of Ireland squad for the Amputee World Cup in Mexico. Just two years James was a member of the first Irish team ever to play an Amputee international and since then has won 15 caps and is his country’s top scorer.
The LYIT soccer side booked their place in the semi-finals of the Colleges & Universities League with a 5-3 away win over Carlow. Lifford Celtic goalkeeper Lee White was in goals for all three of the Irish Defence Forces games at the European Championships in France which included a 1-0 defeat by France, a 3-2 win over Germany he also played in the final match as the team finished third at the Championships after losing to the Netherlands.
Another former Donegal Sports Star Award winner Leon Vaughan of St. Eunan’s College took a swimming silver medal in the 100 metres backstroke and bronze 100m butterfly at the Ulster Schools Championships in Ballymena.
For further information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to the website donegalsportsstarawards.ie or on Facebook at Donegalsports Starawards.