Donegal Sports Star Awards – November review

The Donegal Sports Star Awards November review reveals a very special month for talented Kilcar and Donegal player Ryan McHugh. On the first Friday of the month McHugh received his GAA/GPA All-Star at the annual awards function in Dublin. It was Ryan’s reward for an outstanding season and completed a unique family achievement as both his father Martin and brother Mark were previously honoured at the All-Star Awards. The younger McHugh was also named the Donegal County Board’s Senior Player of the Year and traveled with the All-Star team to Abu Dhabi and Dubai along with fellow Donegal players Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy. Ryan was also a member of the University of Ulster Jordanstown side that won the Ryan Cup, defeating DCU after extra-time at Inishkeen. His father Martin was the manager while Paddy McBrearty scored 0-7 and Downings man Lorcan Connor came on as a second half sub.

The Donegal Sports Star function takes place on Friday the 27th of January in the Mount Errigal Hotel with a number of the November sporting achievers expected to feature among the nominees for the 41st Awards. Staying with GAA there was a national success for the county as Donegal took the Masters Shield title with 0-13 to 0-10 victory over Offaly in Clonberne, Co. Galway.  Following her U.S. triumph Avril McNamee was named the Donegal County Board’s Handball Player of the Year. And in hurling there was a similar accolade for Danny Cullen from the Setanta Club who was named Senior Player of the Year. At the beginning of the month Cullen and Padraig Doherty of Burt picked up their GAA/GPA Nicky Rackard awards.

Young Kilmacrennan motorcyclist Rhys Irwin was confirmed as the 2016 Irish Masters 125/300cc champion. Irwin enjoyed a memorable year on his 125 CC Asprilia with two new lap records for both the National and International Mondello race tracks and 100% race wins scoring maximum points all season. Irwin so impressed the Judges at this year’s Masters series that he became the youngest of only six riders nominated for the prestigious ‘Young Rider of the Year Award’.

In November Trentagh jockey Martin Harley had top three finishes in four races in less than two hours at Lingfield Park Racecourse in Lingfield, Surrey. He had two winners as well as a second and a third place. His first winner was on Alfred Hutchinson at odds of 11/4. Harley then came second on Keep It Dark (12/1). That was followed by a third place on Costa Filey (9/2) and his second winner was on Seve at odds of 5/2.

In the middle of the month Letterkenny’s Meg Carr and Patrick Quinlivan brought home a combined total of 12 gold medals from the Special Olympics Northern Regional Gymnastics Finals, which took place in Lisburn. 15-year-old Meg from Hawthorn Heights won gold on the floor, beam, bars and vault as well as picking up gold overall in her category. 34-year-old Patrick from Long Lane in Letterkenny won gold on the floor, parallel bars, high bars, rings, vault and pommel horse as well as picking up gold overall in his category.

In badminton there was an impressive victory for Sam Magee and Joshua Magee at the Bitburger Grand Prix gold event in Germany. The Irish pair defeated their higher ranked opponents of Yong Kai Terry Hee and Kean Hean Loh from Singapore in two games 21-15 21-16. At the same tournament Sam and his sister Chloe lost 2-0 in the semi-finals of the Mixed Doubles to Swedish opposition.

The Ryan family from Kilmacrennan had to battle desperately to make it through to the third round of the RTE 1 Fittest Family Show. Up against three other families the Ryans struggled in the two challenges ending up fourth. But dad Danny and his two sons Keane and Jordan with daughter Alannah battled back in the eliminator to qualify for the third round. And on the last Sunday of November the Ryans family remained on course to reach the final after producing arguably their best performance of the season to date when knocking out one of the favourites the Broadhursts from Louth.

And there was more success for the Ryan family at the Irish Provinces Rowing Championships in Limerick. Dad Danny, from the Boxfit Club, took the lightweight men’s 2000 metre title in the 40-49 age group with a time of 6:34. He was also second in the 500m sprint open age group event and son Keane was third, Another club member Bernard Doohan, was third in the Heavyweight 2000m 30 -39 age group and a new PB. The Donegal men took second in the team relay 2000 m with Paul McGonagle of Kincasslagh Rowing club joining the Ryans and Doohan.

William Duffy, a student at Deele College Raphoe won an ISKA K1 kickboxing title at the White Horse Hotel in Derry. And his older brother Damian had a ‘Four Nations’ win in the 72kg category. There was success for Loreto Community School’s Grainne Russell at the Loreto Schools National Swimming Finals at the Aquatic Centre in Dublin. Grainne won gold in the 50m Freestyle. Two days later she was in the medals again taking bronze in the 50m Butterfly with the Swilly Seals at the Ulster Grammar Schools Finals in Ballymena. Grainne was also recently on a training trip with the Ulster Schools Swimming squad.

In underage GAA an U16 side from the St Eunan’s Club reached the Paul McGirr Final with a big 4-13 to 1-5 win over Magherafelt in Dromore.  At the start of the month Letterkenny A.C.’s Nikita Burke and Noreen Scanlan were first and second respectively in the Ulster Novice Cross-Country Championships at the Finn Valley Centre. Donegal also won the women’s team event.  A week later Chris Johnston (Finn Valley) and Catriona Jennings (Letterkenny A.C.) were the respective winners of the Donegal Senior Cross-County titles in Stranorlar. The pair also led their teams to gold medals in the respective categories.

Arlene Crossan, Janine Boyle and Summer Lecky were all honoured at the Ulster Council Athletics Awards in Monaghan after representing Ireland at the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi. Meanwhile Milford’s Mary O’Donnell and Alysha Heron from Fanad picked up Senior and Youth Volunteer Awards respectively at a Community Games function in Salthill, Galway. In boxing three Donegal fighters from the Illies Golden Gloves Club claimed Ulster senior titles at the Dockers Club in Belfast – Martin Lynch (Middleweight), Garbhain Friel (Light Heavyweight) and Davitt Tsotsoria (Heavyweight).

But there was a massive disappointment for Brett McGinty who suffered a controversial defeat ending the St. Johnson lad’s World Youth Championships ambitions in a last 32 contest against Slovakian Andrej Csemez at the Sibur Arena in St Petersburg. Welterweight McGinty who fights out of the Oakleaf ABC in Derry appeared to have done enough to qualify for a place in the last 16. Kilcar were crowned Donegal All-County League Division 1 champions after a 2-16 to 3-8 victory over Naomh Conaill in Glenties. The LYIT Ladies Gaelic football side had a huge 19-point win in Belfast with Sarah Jane McDonald, Lucy O’Flynn and Áine O’Reilly scoring the goals.

But the Downings dream of a first Ulster Final appearance came to a disappointing end when Andy Connor’s side lost 0-13 to 0-6 to Monaghan outfit Blackhill in Owenbeg. In Gymnastics the Finesse Gymnastics Club enjoyed major success at the GymStart Challenge held at the DCU Sports Complex in Dublin winning a gold and seven silver medals. At the start of November the Donegal Jiu Jitsu team took the overall title at the inaugural “Irish Brazilian National Championships held at the Aura Centre in Letterkenny. There was double gold for Laghey blue belt William Timoney. Other gold medal winners were John Brown, T.J. McMenamin, Marcus Monaghan, George Henderson, Stephen McGlynn, Jevgenjis Kurakins, Igors Devours, Raymond Hutman, Niall Timoney, Edgars Gailis and Francie McGinley

On the soccer front Letterkenny won Julianne Herrity had another super season with the Carson-Newman Eagles in America. On the back of her performances the 27-year-old, was named on the South Atlantic Conference team of the year after scoring 16 goals. Herrity, who is studying for an MBA at Carson-Newman, in Tennessee, won the SAC regular season title and her club also defeated Wingate Bulldogs to win the SAC Tournament final. Herrity scored the opening goal in the final for the Eagles with Holly Talbut-Smith from England getting the second.

Ballybofey man Johnny Dunleavy was a member of the Cork City squad that won the FAI Senior Cup with a dramatic last minute injury-time victory over Dundalk at the Aviva. Seamus Coleman captained the Republic of Ireland to a superb 1-0 win over Austria in Vienna that keeps Martin O’Neill’s side firmly on course to qualify for the 2018 World Cup Finals. And Coleman’s late goal earned a dramatic draw for Everton at Goodison Park in an English League Premiership match against Swansea. Ramelton native Conrad Logan kept a third successive clean sheet as his club Rochdale recorded a fine 4-0 home win over Walsall in League 1. The 30-year-old also played his part in keeping Swindon scoreless as Rochdale also won 4-0 at home and he didn’t concede in the FA Cup replay against Maidstone the previous week.

In Secondary Schools swimming St. Eunan’s College had a number of medal winners at the Ulster Grammar Schools Finals in Ballymena. In the Junior Boys (11-14 yrs) there was silver for Cian Mulligan in the 50m Breastroke; in the Intermediate Boys (15-16 yrs) both Thomas Keys and Filip Blazesczek were bronze medal winners in the 50m Butterfly and 50m Breastroke respectively. In the Seniors (17+ yrs) where Nathaniel Giddy, Matthew Hegarty, Thomas Coyne and Jonathon Martin won bronze medals in both the Medley and Freestyle in the Team Relays. Martin also won bronze in both the 50m Breastroke and 50m Butterfly events. Coyle took gold in the Individual Medley and there was bronze for Giddy in the 50m Breastroke.

For further information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to, on Twitter Donegal Sport Stars or on Faceook at Donegalsport Starawards.