Successes in athletics, boxing, gymnastics, horseracing, GAA, hockey and soccer all feature in the Donegal Sports Star Awards March Review. Letterkenny man Mark English won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s 800m at the European Indoors Championships in Glasgow.
The UCD medical student’s time was 1.47.39. The final was won by Álvaro de Arriba from Spain who clocked 1.46.83 and the Silver medal went to Great Britain’s Jamie Webb (1.47.13). English had a rollercoaster weekend after finishing fifth in the semi-final after being impeded, but was subsequently put through following an appeal. It was his third European Championships medal after taking a bronze outdoors in Zurich in 2014 and a silver indoors in Prague 2015.
On St. Patrick’s Day Milford’s Brendan Boyce finished 8th at the Lugano Trophy in Switzerland in a time of 1:27:32. It was a good week for Finn Valley at the World Masters Championships in Poland where Mark Connolly was a Gold medal winner as part of the Irish team in the 8k Cross-Country event. The Aghyaran man finished 19th overall in the race. And later in the day, Mark’s club colleague Kay Byrne finished 5th in the 8k Women’s Cross Country which helped Ireland to a Bronze team medal in the 50-55 Masters age category. And another Finn Valley AC member Noreen Bonner won a Bronze individual medal in the World Half Marathon in Poland in the O-60 category. Noreen was also first Irish lady across the finish line and that led to a team gold medal for her country.
On the first Saturday in March, Lifford/Strabane AC’s Brendan O’Donnell set a new Irish Hammer Throw record of 60.45m at the Dunboyne Winter Throws Meet in Meath. The previous record was 58.71m.
Meanwhile, Letterkenny AC’s Nakita Burke's exceptional form continued when she was the third woman home in an ultra competitive Titanic Quarter 10K in Belfast. Nakita's time of 34.33 represented a PB of 19 seconds. The talented Glenswilly lad Sean McGinley won the U17 1,500m at the National Indoor Championships in Athlone in a time of 4.07.51.
Twin Towns boxer Jason Quigley also hit the headlines in March as he maintained his 100% winning record in the professional ranks by defeating Finnish opponent Mathias Eklund on his first competitive appearance at a UK venue. At the Copper Box Arena in London, Quigley made it 16 wins when he stopped Eklund in the second round. On the national stage there were Irish titles for Donegal boxers Bryan McNamee (Convoy) and Danny Boyle (Dungloe) both students at Letterkenny IT and DCU’s Kieran McCole (Dungloe) at the National Colleges Championships in Dublin.
On the global stage, Letterkenny man Patrick Quinlivan was celebrating after winning an amazing seven gymnastic medals on St Patrick's Day at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. The 36-year-old won two gold and five silver medals in huge success story for Team Ireland. The Letterkenny Community Centre man won gold in the pommel horse and as all-round male. Letterkenny swimmer Anna Hennessey took a gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the Swim Ulster Open Disability Championships in Newry
Ramelton man Patrick Bond won a bronze 100m Breaststroke medal at the Ice Swimming World Championship which was held in Murmansk, Russia in the 40-45 age-group category
Early in the month Martin Harley won his first race in Hong Kong on the Anthony T Millard trained High Five who was an incredible 87/1 shot in the Fenwick Handicap at Happy Valley. And on the last day of March Harley won his second race in Hong Kong at the Sha Tin course on Indigenous Star at 5/1 in the Kat O Hoi Handicap for Trainer PF Yiu. The Raphoe Ladies Hockey side clinched the Ulster Hockey Senior 1 League title thanks to a 1-1 draw against CI Ladies with two games left to play.
It was a month to remember for St. Johnston man Ronan Curtis who was named U21 Player of the Year at the FAI Awards in Dublin. Curtis was also a member of the Portsmouth side that won the Checkatrade Trophy for the first time at Wembley. Pompey came from behind to force extra-time and then took the lead but it 2-2 and so the decider wen to penalties where Portsmouth came out on top 5-4.
It was also a memorable March for two Inishowen secondary schools. On the first Monday of March, Moville Community College were crowned FAI Schools Senior Girls National Champions after a 4-0 win over Athlone C.C with Kerry Brown scoring twice while Megan Havlin, and Niamh McDonald also found the back of the net. Then Carndonagh Community School made it back-to-back FAI Schools Dr Tony O’Neill National Senior Cup Boys’ titles and it was a third time in four years to triumph thanks to a 1-0 win over Midleton CBS of Cork at Home Farm FC, Whitehall, Dublin. The match winner was Jack Doherty with an 82nd minute header.
At the end of month three of those Carn players Doherty, Corey McBride and Lee McLaughlin, along with St. Eunan’s College’s Darragh Ellison, were members of the Republic of Ireland Schoolboys who started their International Centenary Shield campaign with a 1-1 draw against Scotland at Somerset Park in Ayr. McBride, McLaughlin and Ellison all started while Doherty came on as a sub. The team was managed by Finn Harps coach William O’Connor while Ollie Horgan was a member of the backroom team along with Milford based physio Mickey McGlynn. St. Johnston’s Tyler Toland setup the winner for the Republic of Ireland women’s side who had a a 1-o win over Wales in an international friendly. Milford’s Amber Barrett was introduced for the closing ten’s minutes.
Just a season after relegation the Donegal senior footballers were back in Division 1 of the National League following a convincing 13-point win over Kildare in Ballyshannon (1-20 to 0-10). Six days later Declan Bonner delivered a second piece of silverware for the Donegal GAA trophy cabinet inside a year after his side staged a super second half turnaround at Croke Park to claim the Division 2 league trophy with a 1-17 to 1-15 win over Meath. On the same day three Gweedore players Odhran McFadden-Ferry, Odhran McNiallais and Kevin Cassidy were named on the Club Championship ‘Team of the Year’.
In the middle of March three Letterkenny IT girls Aoife McColgan, Aisling Nee and Clare native Emma McMahon were named on the GFP Rising Stars team for 2019 in recognition of their impressive performances during the Ladies Higher Education Finals weekend in Dublin. And another trio of Donegal girls Lauren Carr (Loreto CS, Milford & Gaeil Fhánada), Bronagh Gallagher (St. Columba’s CS, Glenties & Naomh Conaill) & Julie Trearty (Loreto CS, Milford & Downings) were named on the Ulster Ladies Schools All Star Awards 2019.
March was also good for Donegal basketball as Letterkenny Blaze won the U14 Girls All Ireland Club Championship Division B title in Gormanstown. And the Mulroy Hoops Basketball Girls U14s squad won the All Ireland Club Championship Division C title in Gormanston.
There were seven medals for Rosses AC at the All-Ireland Indoor Masters Championships in Athlone. Aidan Gillespie won three gold in High Jump, Long Jump and 60m Hurdles; Joe Joyce took gold in the Shot Putt and silver in the in Weight for Distance while there was a silver and bronze for Nicole O’Donnell in the 60m and 200m respectively. In Badminton defending champions Donegal won the Gilbert Cup Ulster Inter-League Badminton competition in Lisburn
A boys team from Raphoe Central National School defeated Banteer N.S. from Cork In the All-Ireland Primary Schools Badminton Final in Dublin
In Bowling John Quinn, Ballylennon, chalked up his fifth win in Donegal tournaments when he overcame a spirited effort from Stanley Browne, Ardstraw, in the Scott Shield Charity Final in Laghey. Ardara man Ronan Whyte won his first two matches in the snooker qualifying stages at the Gibraltar Open which put him through to the last 64 of the competition. On the first Sunday in March, Four Masters Cycling Club member Mitchell McLaughlin won the Cycleways GP As event in Navan on the opening weekend of the 2019 cycling season
The Donegal Ladies’ maintained their super winning run as they qualified for the Ladies National Football League Division 1 semi-finals after a 3-11 to 3-09 win over Tipperary. The goal scorers for Maxi Curran’s side were Karen Guthrie and the Termon duo of Roisin Friel and Geraldine McLaughlin. There was a big disappointment for the Letterkenny IT Ladies who lost the GAA Moynihan Cup Final in Dublin after having led by five points at the interval against Dundalk IT who won the decider in injury time by a point (DKIT 2-11 LYIT 1-13).
In Greyhound Racing, brothers Adrian and Cathal McGee from Lifford the owner and trainer of were celebrating after their dog Ardnasool Jet was named ‘Sprinter of the Year’ at the 2018 National Greyhound Racing Awards. The news wasn’t so good for the Donegal Senior Hurlers who will be playing in Division 3A next year after losing to Warwickshire in the National League Division 2B Relegation playoff (2-10 v 0-14) at Pearse Park, Longford. The Three Rivers Shotokan Karate Club won three gold, four silver and two bronze medals at IKKU Open in Dublin. Letterkenny man Joe Dunleavy was included in the Ulster A squad for the Cara Cup in the USA
It was far from a memorable month for Finn Harps who lost five times, leaving Ollie Horgan’s side with just two points on the Premier Division table.
Finn Harps underage player Luke McGlynn was a member of the Republic of Ireland U15 side that secured a 1-1 draw against Cyprus in an international friendly at the Sofira Municipal Stadium. The Letterkenny Rovers U16s secured their place in the semi-final of the National Cup after 2-0 win over Bohemians in Dublin. And on Sunday the 10th of March there was a great result for Glengad FC who reached the Semi-finals of the FAI Junior Cup after a 3-1 win over Clonmel Town down in Tipperary.
There was good news for the Letterkenny Rovers Club after their central defender Conor Tourish was nominated for the FAI Intermediate Player of the Year. Buncrana man Kieran McDaid played his part as Carlow IT won the national Rustlers Cup Final by defeating the University of Limerick 3-2 in the decider. A milestone was marked in the career of Seamus Coleman who made his 50th appearance for the Republic of Ireland in their Euro 2020 qualifiers opener with a 1-0 win away to Gibraltar in Group D. The following Tuesday Coleman also captained the Republic of Ireland to a a 1-0 win over Georgia at the Aviva Stadium, putting Mick McCarthy’s men top of their Euro 2020 qualification group thanks to a first half Conor Hourihane goal.
The Kerrykeel 71 Club won the Donegal Junior League Division 2 title after overcoming Deele Harps 5-2 at Rabs Park. Inishowen girl Erin McLaughlin won her second Republic of Ireland U17 cap after coming on as a sub in the Elite Qualifying Round game against Germany in Edinburgh. Coláiste Ailigh Letterkenny’s U15 girls soccer team reached their first ever All-Ireland soccer final following a 3-2 semi-final victory over St Patrick's College, Lacken Cross, Co Mayo at Ray MacSharry Park, Sligo. The CA girls went behind twice but goals from Erin Ní Dhochartaigh and Aobha Ní Aragáin brought the game to extra-time. And team captain, Clodagh Ní Shioráin scored the all important winner.
At the end of the month there was despair for Rosses Community School who suffered a 1-0 defeat by Lucan CBS at Ray McSharry Park in Sligo in the FAI Tom Ticher U17 National Junior Cup Final. Despite the Dublin school having a player sent-off early in the game the Rosses boys couldn’t capitalise with the winning goal coming in the 60th minute of the decider.
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