Success in soccer, swimming, athletics and motorsport headline the Donegal Sports Star Awards April review.
It was especially a good month for women and will surely live long in the memory of Milford’s Amber Barrett who scored that dramatic late goal to help the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s side to a 2-1 win over Slovakia in the first of a double header of World Cup qualifiers at the Tallaght Stadium. However, there was disappointment for Barrett four nights later as Colin Bell’s team lost 2-0 to the European Champions the Netherlands at the same venue in front of a record attendance of 4,047. Barrett was then shortlisted for the first Women’s National League Player of the Month award of 2018. The 22-year-old had also enjoyed a great start to the season with Peamount United where she had been in superb scoring. The NUI Maynooth student scored seven times in four games including a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Kilkenny.
Another young woman who enjoyed big success in April was Marlins Ballyshannon Swimming Club member Mona McSharry who won three gold and a bronze medal at the Irish Championships in Dublin. McSharry’s golds came in the 50m Freestyle where she set a new Irish record along with 50m and 100m breastroke while bronze came in the 200m breastroke.
In athletics a very strong Letterkenny AC Male Masters M35-49 team, comprising Raymond Birch, Karol Duggan and Ciaran Doherty, returned from the National Road Relays in Raheny, Dublin with silver medals. They were deprived of gold by only a fraction of a second.
At the same championships the Finn Valley AC Masters Ladies team including Teresa Doherty, Marie Harvey and Catriona Devine won the Over-35 race. And the FV team of Kay Byrne, Noreen Martin and Mary Hippsley took silver in the O50 category.
The all conquering women of Letterkenny Athletic Club enjoyed a hugely successful day in Omagh. They achieved outstanding individual and team results in the Omagh Half Marathon. Annmarie McGlynn was an impressive winner of the women's race in 1.14.28. In the process, she eclipsed the course record, which had stood for 18 years. Nakita Burke had an excellent half marathon debut by claiming second place in 1.21.17. A fine run of 1.37.28 by Shauna McGeehan ensured first prize in the team event. The three LAC ladies garnered 33 points, leaving them a comfortable 27 points clear of the second team, Armagh AC.
Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club member Karen Crawford won gold in the 800m event and silver in the 400 metres at the Irish Masters Long Course Swim Championships in Limerick.
Finn Valley’s Sommer Lecky finished 10th in the final of the High Jump at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. The 17-year-old Castlederg girl jumped 1.80m in front of 40,000 spectators at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. Lecky’s jump was just short of the 1.83 which won her gold in last year’s Commonwealth Youth Games. Her club mate Dempsey McGuigan finished 5th in the hammer last weekend.
Also at the Commonwealth Games, Raphoe’s Rachael Darragh won her Round of 64 match in the Women’s Singles at the Carrara Sports Arena by 2 sets to nil win against Cameroon’s Stella Ngadjui (21-6, 21-3). However Darragh was subsequently beaten by Malaysian Soniia Cheah in the next round on the Gold Coast. Darragh and Sinead Chambers also lost to Cheah and Jemie Shevon Lai in the women’s doubles last 16 (21-19 21-7).
There was also disappointment for Letterkenny’s Stephen McMonagle at the Commonwealth Games. missing out on a bronze medal after losing to New Zealander Patrick Mailata.
In early April Donagh Kelly in a Ford Focus WRC won the Circuit of Kerry. It was round two of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship and the Frosses man finished 16.4 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta WRC of another Donegal man, Declan Boyle from Leitirmacaward. Muff driver Joseph McGonigle finished fourth position. Then at the end of the month Kelly and Conor Foley won the Monaghan Stages Rally in their Ford Focus with just 1.8 seconds to spare over Sam Moffett and Karl Atkinson in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Dunfanaghy Boxing Club’s Bernie McDonagh won the second Irish boxing title of his career at the National Stadium in Dublin. Bernie overcame Che Devine from Oliver Plunkett Club in Belfast in the semi final and Donnacha Sayers from Cashel Vale Munster in the decider in the Boy 3 44kgs category. There was also a national title for Shane McConigley from the Letterkenny Boxing Club who defeated Rathkeale’s Mark Moore-Long at the National Stadium in Dublin in the Boy 1 52kgs section.
The Donegal Town U16 Girls Basketball team won the Division 2 national title after three victories at the All-Ireland Club Championships weekend.
In the middle of the month Ramelton’s Marty Lynch created history by becoming the first man to win ‘The Race’ in two successive years and in a record time. He is also the only person to have won 255km endurance event twice. Lynch’s time was 13 hours, 32 minutes and 26 seconds.
The boys from PCC Falcarragh produced a remarkable fightback to win the FAI Schools Minor B Boys National Cup Final at IT Sligo. PCC were 2-0 down against Coola Post Primary School when their captain Blake McGarvey showed the ultimate leadership by scoring twice to draw PCC level with their opponents. And then to round of a really memorable day for the Falcarragh school Paul Johnston got the winner just past the hour mark to secure the national title. There was also success for Carndonagh Community School who won the Dr. Tony O’Neill Senior Boys Cup Final.
Over 650 completed a very successful Run Donegal Women’s 5k which took place in the Twin Towns. It was the 12th staging of the charity event based at the Finn Valley Centre and was held in memory of Lisa McGranaghan a married mother of two who died from cancer two years ago. Catriona Devine was the winner in a time of 19 minutes and four seconds. Young Ramelton athlete Shane Irwin ran a fantastic 200 metres tin France. The LYIT student set a new Personal Best of 22.1 having run 22.9 last year.
Shane dropped down to the 200m event to improve his speed for his more regular 400m distance later in the season.
In snooker Ronan Whyte defeated his North West Snooker Club colleague Sean Devenney 3-0 in the first ever all Donegal RIBSA U-18 qualification ranking final which took place in the Ivy Rooms Snooker Club in Carlow.
Meanwhile Devenney secured his place in the U18 National Snooker Final after defeating his North West Club colleague Whyte 3-2 also at the Ivy Rooms in Carlow.
On the GAA front here was to be no National League semi-final spot for the Donegal Ladies despite their big 4-11 to 2-3 win over Cork in Ballybofey. That’s because other results on that weekend didn’t go in their favour. In the middle of April the Donegal U17s suffered a disappointing 2-21 to 1-12 defeat at the hands of Monaghan in the Jim McGuigan Cup Final at Drumragh. The Minors also suffered a heavy 5-12 to 1-10 defeat by Tyrone in the first round of the Ulster Championship at McCumhaill Park.
Kilcar’s PatrickMcBrearty was named on the first ever GAA Club Players’ football team of the championship. The Donegal U16s booked their place in the Buncrana Cup Final with a big 4-10 to 0-8 win over Monaghan at the O’Donnell Park. St. Eunan’s College won the Ulster Schools Treanor Cup title (U15 and a half) after defeating St. Louis Grammar, Ballymena in Coleraine by 0-7 to 1-2.
In Martial Arts there was medal success for the North West Shotokan Karate Club at the 19th Annual Rising Sun Karate Championships in Cork. There was gold for Lucas McColgan, Elaine Dullaghan and Ciara Dullaghan. Elaine also took two silvers. Lucas won a silver also. Rebecca picked up a bronze. The three girls also won silver I the mixed Senior Team Kate.
On the first days of April Kilmacrennan brothers Rhys and Caolan Irwin were both in motorbike action at Donington Park. Rhys underwent a testing first weekend in the all new British Talent Cup as the championship joined the British Superbike Championship for its 2018 season opener. Despite a tough weekend the 15-year-old left the Derbyshire venue feeling confident having been third quickest in free practice before mechanical issues upset his championship debut.
Meanwhile, beginning his first full season in the highly competitive category for standard 600cc machines, Rhys’s brother Caolán Irwin put in a brilliant performance in the race to climb from 19th on the starting grid to take tenth place at the flag and outstrip the teams expectations for their maiden weekend at the highest level of British Motorcycle Racing.
The Irwins brothers followed that up as both finished eighth in their respective categories after competing at the British Superbike Championships at Brands Hatch.
Caolán then had a hat-trick of runner up places at Mondello Park in the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship riding in the Supersport Pro class.
Motiv 8 Powerlifting Gym member John McHugh won the Best Lifter of the Day at the Irish Drug Free Powerlifting National Championships in Dublin.
Finn Harps made their exit from EA Sports Cup on Bank Holiday Monday evening in Ballybofey after local rivals Derry City came back from a goal down to secure their spot in the third round draw with a 2-1 win. Skipper Ciaran Coll had put Harps in front on 11 minutes.
In the league and despite performing well Harps lost 3-2 to UCD at Belfield in the League of Ireland First Division. Burnfoot man Georgie Kelly grabbed a super hat-trick for the Students.
A week later there was a much better result as for the second successive game Sam Todd scored for Ollie Horgan’s side to grind out a 1-0 victory over Cabinteely in Ballybofey. On the last Friday in April Todd’s rich scoring streak continued, this time against Longford Town as the Carndonagh man’s 91st minute gave Finn Harps a crucial three points in the Midlands in what was a very fortunate 2-1 victory.
Meanwhile Harps underage players Patrick McGarvey and Fionnan Coyle both featured for the Republic of Ireland U15s against the Czech Republic.
For the second year in a row Fanad United Youths were crowned Dick Duffy Memorial league champions after Niall Doherty’s side secured the title when they defeated Kilmacrennan Celtic in a hugely entertaining game in Traighalough. Milford lad Conor McHugh proved to be the match winner as the midfielder scored twice which included the goal that clinched the title just past the midway point of the second half.
Hopes of reaching the FAI Intermediate Cup Final for the second time in three years came to a very disappointing end for
Letterkenny Rovers as Eamonn McConigley’s outfit lost 2-0 to Firhouse Clover in Dublin. It was a semi-final replay after Rovers had failed to take advantage of Leckview Park a fortnight to book their place in the decider. Rovers also made a disappointing exit from the FAI Senior Cup losing 1-0 to CIE Ranch in Dublin.
The Inishowen League’s run in the Oscar Traynor Cup competition ended at the Kells Road Astro pitch in Kilkenny. Early goals in both halves by winger Emmet Nugent sent the Kilkenny League through to the last four and ended Inishowen’s hopes of another Oscar Traynor victory.
There was huge disappointment also for the Letterkenny Rovers U15 who went down 3-1 to favourites St. Kevin’s Boys in a SFAI National Cup semi-final. A controversial late penalty put St. Kevin’s 2-1 in front and on their way to the final. Rathmullan’s Adrian Delap got another significant career boost when he made his debut for the Ireland Colleges and Universities side coming on for the second half in the 1-0 friendly win over Scotland at Oriel Park.
Although missing through suspension himself Carl McHugh’s Motherwell still secured their place in the Scottish Cup Final thanks to a 3-0 win over Aberdeen at Hampden Park. In the middle of April there was penalty heartache for the Donegal Women’s League U18 side who lost 6-5 on penalties to the Metropolitan League from Dublin in the Inter-league Cup Final which had 1-1 after extra-time.
There was a very special night for Lifford native Shay Given who received the ‘Donegal Person of the Year’ award at a gala dinner in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin.
Inishowen man Stephen McLaughlin was one of the scorers for Southend Utd who had a 4-0 victory over MK Dons in an English League One game.
And on the last Monday of the month Donegal Town’s Jack Keaney scored his first senior League of Ireland goal as Sligo Rovers recorded a 2-1 Premier Division win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds.
There was huge disappointment for PCC Falcarragh who missed out on a place in the FAI Schools Senior ‘B’ Boys National Final. After the semi-final had been scoreless at half-time against Greenan College, Thomastown in Gortakeegan, PCC took a 2-0 lead through Carlos O’Reilly and Ultan Boyle. However, Greenan came back to draw level and then got a 90th minute winner. There was heartache also for Scoil Mhuire U15s who suffered a 3-0 defeat against Claregalway College in the FAI Schools Minor National Final at McSharry Park in Sligo.
Carndonagh Community School’s Kieran Farren and Daniel Houghton started for the Republic of Ireland Schools team that won the International Centenary Shield after overcoming Scotland 3-1 at Home Farm FC in Dublin. Houghton saved a penalty in the second half. St. Eunan’s College pupil James Carolan was also a squad member which was managed by Cockhill Celtic player and Finn Harps coach William O’Connor. Milford’s Mickey McGlynn was the Irish physio while Harps manager Ollie Horgan is on the coaching staff.
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