There were plenty of sporting headlines in the Donegal Sports Star Awards February review with fabulous achievements in athletics, badminton, GAA, golf and soccer.
It was a good month for two former Overall Donegal Sports Star Awards winners Sommer Lecky and Mark English. Lecky won the high-jump with a 1.84m leap in Belgium at the IFAM European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting.
At the same event English recorded a time of 1.48.66 to win the 800m Final.
In the middle of February English won the 800m at the International Indoor Grand Prix event at the Athlone Arena in a time of 1.46.94. Four days later the Letterkenny man took a sixth National Senior Indoor 800m title in Abbottstown in a time of 1:51.77 just edging out Zak Curran (Dundrum South Dublin AC) by 0.14 of a second ahead. As a result English was named on the Irish team for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow.
At the same Senior Championships Finn Valley AC’s Lecky won Gold in the High Jump with a 1.86m jump, equalling the Irish U23 & Junior record. As a result she too was named on the Irish team for the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow at the start of March. Also in Abbottstown there was a silver medal for Lecky’s club colleagues Brendan Boyce in the 5k walk in in a time of 20.16 and Lauren Callaghan won silver in the Triple Jump while Tír Chonaill AC’s Geraldine Stewart took Bronze in the Shot Put with a throw of 11.76m. Letterkenny AC’s Nikita Burke ran 9.33 and was the fastest of the Irish four-member team who finished third at the Armagh Races.
In Barcelona, Letterkenny AC’s Anne Marie McGlynn set a new Donegal record time of 71.59 in the half-marathon.
On the first Saturday in February, Sam and Chloe Magee won the Irish Mixed Doubles for the 11th time in 12 years after overcoming their niece Rachel Darragh and Paul Reynolds in the final (21-14, 22-20). The Magee siblings followed that up by advancing in the Barcelona Masters Tournament after a straight two-sets 21-15, 21-18 win over their Danish opponents. There was a marvellous national success for young Gaoth Dobhair golfer Padraig O’Dochartaigh who won the Irish U-15 Junior Open golf competition at Portmarnock Links Golf Club in a 2 over par. He took the Irish title with two shots to spare in a field of over 70 golfers.
In the middle of the month Letterkenny IT won the Trench Cup after coming from behind to defeat Dundalk IT by 0-15 to 2-07 in the final played in Mallow. Co Cork with Michael Langan being named ‘Man-of-the-Match’. St. Johnston man Ronan Curtis scored the third goal as his Portsmouth side booked their place in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy which will take place at Wembley following a 3-0 win over Bury. Three Donegal girls captain Eimear Lafferty (Redcastle) Caoimhe Walsh (Kerrykeel), Emer Gillen (Greencastle) were members of the Maynooth side that won the Third Level Women’s Premier League thanks to a 2-1 win over IT Carlow in Athlone.
On the last day of February three Donegal players Milford’s Rory O’Donnell and Buncrana boys Aaron McDaid and Mark McFadden started for the Republic of Ireland U18 Home Based side which landed the John Coughlan Cup in Wexham after two games against the host Wales. The Irish had a 1-0 win the first game and then it was a 3-2 victory in the second match. McDaid scored the winner while O’Donnell was named man of the match. St. Johnston’s Tyler Toland started for the Republic of Ireland Women’s team while Amber Barrett from Milford played the final half-hour in Marbella in a friendly fixture that ended 0-0 against Wales.
Ballybofey native Laura Feely started for the Irish Senior Women’s team who suffered a heavy 51-7 defeat at the hands of England in a Six National opener at Donnybrook. But, a week later Feely was on a winning Ireland side, playing 66 minutes in the bonus point 22-5 Six Nations away win over Scotland.
The Donegal Ladies made a dream start to their Division 1 League campaign with a 1-11 to 1-07 win over All-Ireland and National Football League champions Dublin in Croke Park. Player of the Match Karen Guthrie got the Donegal goal early in the first half. Eight days later Maxi Curran’s side made it back-to-back league wins by overcoming Mayo 3-10 to 2-07 in Convoy. Glenfin woman Yvonne Bonner’s goal wasn’t enough to give her Greater Western Sydney Giants a victory in her debut AFLW game. The Giants lost 29-27. Bonner was then named on the ‘Team of the Week’ after scoring a super goal for the Giants but it was defeat again 65-34 to the Carlton Blues.
The Donegal men made it back-to-back wins in Division Two of the National Football League, overcoming Meath on a final score of 1-13 to 0-14. Caolan McGonagle’s goal eighth minutes from the end of normal time proved to be the game’s defining moment at a time when Declan Bonner’s outfit was four points behind the visitors. Eight days later Donegal suffered their first defeat of the Division 1 league campaign going down to Tipperary at Semple Stadium on a final score of 3-09 to 0-13.
Coláiste Ailigh Letterkenny took the Ulster Ladies U20 Schools Championship title thanks to a 6-8 to 2-7 win over Thornhill College of Derry at the Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane. Shannon Ní Chuinneagaáin had a personal tally of 2-4 while Laoise Ní Riain scored two goals. In the middle of February - St Columb’s Derry defeated Abbey Vocational School 2-11 to 3-5 at the O’Donnell Park in Letterkenny in the Ulster Schools Markey Cup Final. Gaoth Dobhair’s dream of making a first ever All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Final ended at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-On-Shannon as Mervyn O’Donnell’s men lost 2-13 to 1-12 against reigning title holders Corofin defeated.
The Letterkenny IT Ladies booked their place in the national Moynihan Cup semi-final thanks to a 2-15 to 1-6 victory over Mary Immaculate College of Limerick at the Connacht Centre of Excellence in Mayo with the goals coming from Zoe McGlynn and Emma McMahon. Dungloe man Shaun Sharkey was a beaten finalists at the European 8 Ball Championships in Killarney. Sharkey lost out to Northern Ireland’s Dylan O’Leary in the decider.
There was disappointment for the Donegal Junior League who made their Oscar Traynor Trophy exit after losing out on penalties to Limerick at the Gweedore Celtic grounds An Screaban. Limerick won 5-3 winners in the shootout after having taken the lead early in the second half. Ronan McHugh equalised for Donegal in the 58th minute. The women’s LYIT soccer team had a 1-0 cup win at Abbottstown over Cork IT courtesy of a Lauren Creggan who scored the game’s only goal. But, the men’s team lost their Rustlers CFAI Cup quartet-final tie 4-1 against GMIT at the Port Road Campus with goal coming from Finn Harps player Liam Walsh.
Mulroy College Milford and Coláiste Ailigh Letterkenny suffered defeats in national cup competitions. Mulroy lost by the narrowest of margins 1-0 in the Senior B Girls National Cup Final to St. Laurence College of Loughlinstown Dublin at United Park in Drogheda. Coláiste Ailigh went down 4-1 to St Clare’s of Manorhamilton in the semi final of the Junior B National Cup. But, there was better news for Moville Community College who booked their place in the FAI Schools Senior Girls National Cup Final for the second successive year after a 4-1 win over Ursuline College Sligo at the Curragh in Killygordon thanks to goals from Kate McClenaghan, Niamh McDonald, Megan Havlin and Bronagh McGuinness.
There was double disappointment for the LYIT in the knockout stages of national soccer competitions. First the the men lost to NUI Galway in their league quarter final. Then in the semi final of the CUFL Premier Division the ladies were beaten 4-0 by IT Carlow. In the middle of February Culdaff girl Erin McLaughlin was named in the Republic of Ireland Women's U17 squad for a friendly double-header against Iceland next week.
The Raphoe Ladies went top of the Senior 1 League after a 3-0 win over Caste at the Royal & Prior School thanks to second half goals from Wendy Patterson who scored twice and one from Leanne Patterson
On the second Saturday of the month the Letterkenny First XV rugby side had a 28-21 win over Newry at the Glebe to extend their winning run to six games. Illies Golden Gloves Club woman Donna Barr secured her place in the semi-finals of the Light Featherweight National Elite Championships with a unanimous win at the National Stadium
Finn Harps player Luke McGlynn was one of the penalty scorers after the Republic of Ireland U15s drew 2-2 with the Netherlands in the second match of their International Tournament in Spain’s Pinatar Arena on Friday. However, it was the Dutch who won the developmental penalty shoot-out 4-2. McGlynn came on as a 52nd minute substitute while another Harps player Conor Campbell was also in the Irish squad. Both players had started in the 1-1 draw with the hosts Spain in a previous game.
Two more young Harps players Michael Gallagher and Niall McGinley took part in a Republic of Ireland U19 training camp. Meanwhile, another Harps player Sam Todd was a late sub for an Irish U21 Home Based squad who played the Irish Amateur team. Also coming on as a sub for the U21s was Donegal Town lad Jack Keaney who plays with Sligo Rovers and Letterkenny Rovers central defender Conor Tourish was introduced from the bench for the Amateur side
Finn Harps lost 1-0 in their Premier Division opener against Bohemians at Dalymount Park. The game’s only goal was scored by Dinny Corcoran four minutes before the break. On the same night Donegal Town lad Jack Keaney put Sligo Rovers ahead in their Premier Division opener against reigning champions Dundalk at Oriel Park but the hosts came back to earn a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw. Goalkeeper Ed McGinty also produced a super performance in goals. A week later Ollie Horgan’s side produced a huge performance to secure a 1-1 Premier Division draw against the 2018 double champions Dundalk in Ballybofey. Keith Cowan put Harps in front just before the break but Dundalk drew level on 70 minutes through Brian Gartland. That was followed with Harps securing a useful 0-0 draw against St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
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