There was plenty of success for Donegal sport November. And those fine achievements are reflected in the Donegal Sports Star Awards November Review.
A super season for Shaun Stewart was topped off as the Creeslough man took the National Adventure Race Series after his win in the Westport Sea2Summit. Two Letterkenny AC athletes Nakita Burke and Karol Duggan won their respective Senior Women’s and Men’s events at the Donegal Senior Cross Country Championships. Burke crossed the finish line just ahead of Teresa Doherty of Finn Valley. Duggan was just ahead of Gerard Gallagher of Finn Valley The Men’s Teams event was won by Letterkenny AC with Finn Valley taking the female category.
Staying with athletics and in the middle of November there was no shortage of joy for Donegal at the Ulster Novice and Uneven Ages Cross Country Championships at Scotstown in Monaghan with Niamh Kelly of Letterkenny AC winning the Women’s Novice and her club colleague Eoin Hughes took the male equivalent category. Letterkenny AC also took gold in the Men’s Novice team section. Hughes also led LAC to team gold. The other three counters were Donal Farren, Eoin Kelly and Conor Brennan. Oisin Kelly of Cranford AC was the winner of the U15 Cross-Country title.
At the annual Ulster Athletic Awards which took place in the Four Seasons Hotel, Monaghan there was a Hall Of Fame honour for Finn Valleys’ Patsy McGonagle. There were also awards for FV’s Sommer Lecky, Brendan Boyce, Ben Carr Riona Doherty and Aine Wilkinson, Cormac O’Donnell (Lifford/Strabane AC), Sean McGinley (Olympian AC) and Mark English.
Then there was a great day in Swansea at the Irish & British Cross Country Championships for Finn Valley AC masters athletes. Teresa Doherty won the Women’s individual section and along with her club colleague Catriona Devine (third scorer) was second in the O40 team category behind England. Kay Byrne (second scorer) took home an O55 team bronze. There was also a silver for Noreen Bonner (second scorer) in the team O60 category again behind England. Kieran Carlin (fifth scorer) also won a team bronze O50 medal. Also in Swansea Rosses AC’s Emer McGee had a brilliant run to come seventh and 3rd counter on the Irish team that won Silver medals in the 50-55 section at the British and Irish Masters Cross Country International in Swansea
On the last Sunday of the month in the National Senior and Junior Cross-Country Championships at Abbotstown in Dublin it was a memorable day for Donegal athletics. In the Senior Women’s race there was a silver medal for Anne-Marie McGlynn of Letterkenny AC. The Donegal Senior Women’s teams of McGlynn, her LAC club colleagues Nakita Burke and Caitriona Jennings along with Teresa Doherty (Finn Valley) took the Inter-County title. Letterkenny AC club won a silver medal in the Inter-clubs category through McGlynn, Jennings, Burke and Niamh Kelly.
At the end of November there was plenty of success for Donegal at the National Athletics Awards in Dublin with Finn Valley Sommer Lecky being named Junior Athlete of Year after winning a silver medal in the High Jump at the IAAF World U20 Athletics Championships in Tampere, Finland. Lecky set a new national U20 record of 1.90m on her way to that runners-up spot. Milford native Paddy Marley received a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award while Tirconaill AC’s Eamonn Harvey was presented with a ‘Services to Coaching’ award. Cranford AC’s Eamonn Giles was made an Honorary Life Vice-President of Athletics Ireland.
Another Milford man Brendan Boyce was one of the nominees for Endurance Athlete of the Year award but lost out to Irish Race Walker colleague Alex Wright. Letterkenny woman Caitriona Jennings helped the charity Orbis Ireland to reach the €1 million fundraising mark after 11 years by running in the Great Ethiopian Run.
On the first day of November Raphoe’s Joshua Magee secured another badminton win at the Saarlorlux International in Germany reaching the last 16 in the men’s singles after beating Jaromir Janacek of Czech Republic, 21-17, 20-22, 21-11. Joshua’s niece Rachael Darragh and Sara Boyle also made it to the last 16 after defeating Horvath and Wurm of Germany. At the same championships’ Raphoe siblings Sam & Chloe Magee who lost out to World Number 14 Marcus Ellis & Lauren Smith of England 14-21 21-18 11-21.
But a big triumph was to follow for Sam and Chloe Magee the following week when they were crowned Irish Mixed Doubles Champions after overcoming Harley Towler and Emily Westwood from England (21-13, 21-12) in the final. Sam and Chloe Magee booked their places in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Open after a two sets to one win over a French pair (25-23, 20-22, 21-16). Joshua Magee and Paul Reynolds also advanced at the Scottish Open after a 21-19, 21-19 victory over Bulgarian opposition.
In Basketball the Letterkenny Blaze U16 Girls team qualified for the quarter-finals of the National Cup at Gormanstown, Co. Meath. There was Indoor Short Mat Bowls success for Convoy’s John Quinn who plays for Ballylennon Bowling Club as he captained the Ireland team to victory in the British Isles Championship where the team took home 10 of the 12 trophies on offer. PJ Gallagher from Burtonport was also a member of the team
For the sport of GAA it was a good start to November as Kilcar clubman Ryan McHugh was the only Donegal player named in the 2018 All Star team. It was the second time for McHugh to win an All Star having previously been honoured in 2016.
The Glenfin Ladies hopes of an historic first Ulster Ladies Senior Football Club Championship title were ended by Donaghmoyne of Monaghan who were seven point winners in the final at Killyclogher on a score of 1-15 to 1-08. St. Eunan’s defeated Moville 7-9 to 7-4 in the Donegal Ladies Minor A Final while Milford took the honours in the B decider with a win over St. Nauls.
In the middle of the month the Donegal GAA County Board announced their 2018 award winners with Eoghan Ban Gallagher being named Senior Player of the Year while Glenfin’s Yvonne Bonner took the Lady Footballer of the Year honour. Gweedore’s Odhrán Mac Niallais was named as the Gradam Shéamuis Mhic Géidigh 2018 award winner after playing a huge role in his club’s first Donegal Senior Football Club Championship success in 12 years, scoring eight points in the final win over Naomh Conaill.
It was certainly a November to remember for Red Hugh’s as the Killygordon Club won the Ulster Junior Club Football Championship at Celtic Park in Derry overcoming Limavady Wolfhounds on a score of 1-11 to 1-09.
Here in Donegal, St. Eunan’s took the Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure U21A Football Championship title with a very comfortable 5-11 to 1-08 win over Glenfin at MacCumhaill Park, Ballybofey. Gweedore secured their place in the Ulster Senior Football Club Championship Final following a 4-11 to 0-16 win over Crossmaglen Rangers with the help of three first half goals from Dáire Ó Baoill.
Letterkenny IT men’s footballers won the Higher Education Senior League Division Two Final 3-14 to 2-15 against Dundalk IT in Garvaghy with the help of a brace of goals from John Campbell and one from Michael Langan. And Milford were crowned U21 B champions following a narrow 2-09 to 1-11 win over
St. Naul’s in a final replay at McCumhaill Park. The St. Eunan’s Minors completed the double after winning the League Final easily 3-20 to 3-3 against Four Masters in Glenfin.
In hockey the Raphoe Ladies’ First XV secured their place in the Ulster Cup Final winning 8-7 on Penalty Runs against Club KV. The semi-final had ended 3-3 at full-time in Cookstown. Sabrina Barnett with two and Amy Wauchope were the scorers. Later in the month they made it four wins from their opening five games in Section 1 of the Ulster Ladies League after Richard Tinney’s side defeated CI Ladies 2-1.
There was a good start and end to the month for the two young Orr brothers. First the Rathmullan jockeys had winners at separate race meetings. Conor Orr was on Eight Till Late that won the 2m Handicap Chase for trainer Peter Casey at Down Royal. Oisin Orr, meanwhile took Freescape to victory in the 6f Handicap at Dundalk for trainer David Marine. Then at the end of November there was a fantastic five race winners coup for the Orrs brothers at horseracing meetings in Limerick and Dundalk. Conor had a treble in Limerick while in Dundalk, Oisin rode two winners.
The hugely successfully season for Trentagh jockey Martin Harley continued. He had his 75th win of the year who was on 16/1 Kasperenko in the 32Red Floodlit Stakes at Kempton at the start of the month.
And by the last day of November Harley had made it 80 wins for the season with a double at Kempton Park on 4/1 shot Roman Spinner and 13/8 favourite Wallflower.
It was a memorable November for hurlers Declan Coulter and Stephen Gillespie, members of the Nicky Rackard championship winning Donegal team, who were named on the the GAA and the GPA Team of the Year. Coulter was also named Nicky Rackard ‘Hurler of the Year’. Padraic Doherty was named as the Donegal Senior Hurler of the Year. The Burt man played corner back in Donegal’s Nicky Rackard victory and helped his club to reclaim the county senior title. There was a bronze martial arts medal for Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club member Ciaran Crawford at an Open International event in Belgium
In Motorcycling Kimacrennan’s Caolán Irwin was named as the 2018 ‘Young Racer of the Year’ at the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship awards ceremony at the Westgrove Hotel in Clane, County Kildare. Irwin’s reward was prize package of support worth more than €10,000 to assist him in furthering his motorcycling career. It was also confirmed that Caolan’s younger brother Rhys would be competing again in the British Talent Cup next year. Two rally drivers Darragh McNern, Bruckless and Letterkenny’s Marty Gallagher were included in the list of nominees for the Billy Coleman Young Driver of the Year award. McNern, in a Toyota Corolla, finished second in the Triton Showers National Junior class. Gallagher’s inclusion came as he was the highest placed Junior in the Valvoline National Forestry Championship in a Peugeot 208.
Kincasslagh Rowing Club members Niamh Duggan and Aidan Greene won gold and set new Irish records in their respective Lightweight finals at the National Provinces Indoor Championships at the University of Limerick. In rugby there was a big breakthrough for former Letterkenny RFC player Joe Dunleavy who made his senior Ulster debut in a 21-5 win over Uruguay at the Kingspan Stadium.
On the second day of November, Finn Harps had a 2-0 (3-0 on aggregate) win over Limerick F.C. in the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off Final at the Markets Field to make a quick return to the League of Ireland Premier Division. There was further good news for Harps after Ollie Horgan was announced as one of the three nominees for the Professional Football Association of Ireland’s ‘Manager of the Year’.
Then it was announced that Harps U17 lad Daragh Ellison was named SSE Airtricity U-17 League Player of the Year. Ellison captained the Declan Boyle managed side to an historic league and cup double. Finn Harps player Fionnan Coyle played the entire match as the Republic of Ireland U-16s recorded a 4-0 win over Wales in the Victory Shield at Mounthawk Park in Tralee. Former Cappry player Luke McGlynn and ex-Eany lad Conor Campbell who are now with Finn Harps were on international duty with the Republic of Ireland U15s who had a 1-0 friendly victory away in Poland. McGlynn played the full game while Campbell was introduced as a second half sub. Two days later Campbell and McGlynn both started in the 4-2 loss to the Poles.
Seamus Coleman got one of the goals as his Everton side recorded a 3-1 win over Brighton at Goodison Park. It was a winning start for the Donegal Junior League who defeated Inishowen 2-1 in an Oscar Traynor Group game at Diamond Park in Ballyare thanks to first half goals from Kevin McHugh and Ryan Shields after a Shaun Doherty had put the visitors ahead. Burnfoot man Georgie Kelly was an unused substitute but still picked up his first FAI Senior Cup medal as Dundalk defeated Cork City 2-1 in the final at the Aviva Stadium. But Ramelton man Barry McNamee’s hopes of winning a second FAI Senior Cup medal were dashed with Cork’s loss to Stephen Kenny’s side.
On the same day and despite battling all the way Amber Barrett’s dream of an FAI Women’s Senior Cup medal came up just short at the Aviva Stadium as her side Peamount Utd lost 1-0 to pre-match favourites Wexford Youths. Tyler Toland was confirmed as one of three nominees for the International Women’s Player of the Year.
Letterkenny IT pulled of a super national Rustler’s Cup home 2-1 win over a highly fancied Carlow IT who had taken an early lead. A quick Sean McBride equaliser was followed midway through the second half by Conor Gormley’s winner from the penalty spot after Liam Walsh was taken down. Letterkenny Rovers player Padraig Murphy is to represent the club at the Aviva Stadium after being crowned Provincial U12 penalty-kick champion at the Brandywell when successfully converting all his three penalties in a keenly contested final.
Amber Barrett was a double winner at the Women’s FAI Awards scooping the ‘Top Goalscorer’ accolade after bagging 30 goals for Peamount Utd in the National Women’s League. Barrett was also named in the ‘Team of the Year’.
It was a November to remember for Ronan Curtis who turned in a man-of-the-match performance as his Portsmouth side had a 4-0 win over Maidenhead in the FA Cup. Then in the middle of the month the St. Johnston man made his debut for the Republic of Ireland coming on for the second half in the 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Curtis then made his competitive debut four days later coming on as a sub for Robbie Brady midway through the second half of the scoreless away draw against Denmark in the final Nations Cup group game. At the end of the month Curtis was among the goals again as Portsmouth defeat Walsall 2-0 to go four points clear at the top of League One.
Newtowncunningham’s Ronan McKinley came on as a second half substitute for the Republic of Ireland U17s who lost 3-2 to the Czech Republic in an International Tournament in Dublin. The Derry City Club member then started for the Republic of Ireland who lost 4-1 to Germany at Tallaght Stadium in the final match of the Tournament. Letterkenny Rovers booked their place in the last 16 of FAI Intermediate Cup after a 5-1 victory over Pegasus/ St James in Dublin and also a place in the first round of the FAI Senior Cup thanks to a double from BJ Banda while Conor Tourish, Darren McElwaine and Kevin McGrath also got on the scoresheet. At the end of the month former Letterkenny Rovers player Dale Gorman turned in a man-of-the-match performance for Leyton Orient who drew 0-0 at home and a result that kept his side top of the National League
Loreto Community School Milford won the Donegal U16A Final after a 2-15 to 4-7 win over Abbey VS at the Convoy Centre of Excellence grounds. In the B Final at the same venue it was St. Catherine’s VS Killybegs who came out on top 0-14 to 0-8 against Moville CS. Two Ronan Frain goals helped St Eunan’s College Letterkenny’s senior side secure an important second MacRory Cup group win after Colm McFadden’s men defeated St Paul’s of Bessbrook, Cavan 2-11 to 0-6 at Drumragh. St Eunan’s also booked their place in the Loch an Luir Cup Final following a narrow one point 3-8 to 4-4 victory over St Joseph’s of Donaghmore in Dungiven.
The Ulster Schools soccer side came so close to success in the FAI Schools Interprovincials after just missing out on a draw in the final game against Connacht that would have won the title for the team managed by Paul Browne and Martin Cavanagh. They had wins over Munster (3-1) and Leinster (2-1) but it was Connacht who claimed the title after a 2-1 over Ulster.
Coláiste Ailigh Letterkenny’s U16 girls basketball team produced a super All Ireland Quarter final performance to overcome very strong Glenamaddy Community School from Galway on a final score of 44 to 21.