Donegal Sports Star Awards January review

It was an especially good month for martial arts where the three men won gold medals at the European Jiu Jitsu Games in Lisbon.

Two Carrigart men got on to the podium with Paul McHugh and Liam McBride winning gold medals in the novice section.

Convoy’s TJ McMenamin claimed a gold in the Blue Belt Masters Division in Portugal while Emma Dolan from the Three Rivers Shotokan Club was a brilliant second at the Ishoj Karate Cup in Copenhagen.

Danny Ryan continued where he left off last year winning two gold medals at the Irish Indoor Rowing Championships at the UL Sports Arena on the University of Limerick campus. The former Irish boxing champion was first in the 2 km 40-49 age-group and then won the 500m Open Men category. And Ryan also achieved a new Irish record in the 40-49 age category in the 500m event.

January was also good for darts with Buncrana man Sean Wilson winning the Irish National Organisation’s singles title. He defeated Michael Meeney of Kilkenny 3-2 in the final and Sean qualified to play in the British Darts Organisation tournament, the Winmau World Masters and also the Lakeside World Championship Qualifiers. There was also a big snooker success for the CYMS Letterkenny team who were crowned All-Ireland champions. The team included Gareth Kirwan, Phelim McClafferty, Adrian McFadden, Chris Dolan and Chris Gibbons.

Motorsport crew Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett will forever remember Friday the 26th of January when they were crowned Overall winners at the Donegal Sports Star Awards after their superb success in retaining the Donegal International Rally event last June. Kilmacrennan’s Richard Kerr won the ‘Young Rider of the Year’ at the Motorbike Awards in Bangor. The awards recognize the achievements of Ireland’s top riders at home and abroad.  Kerr also confirmed that he will switch to the Dickies British Supersport class for the new motorcycling season and will ride on the Campbell Motor Sport Triumph Daytona 675R. The 17-year-old had been competing in the MotoStar British Championship Moto 3 class over the past three years.

For the second successive year Mulroy College Milford were crowned All-Ireland Senior ‘B’ Girls champions after a great 2-0 win against Cork side Midleton at the Home Farm grounds in Dublin. Laura Dugera was the star of the show as her two goals secured the title for Maria Ryan’s side. There was big news for young Letterkenny lad Shane Blaney who made the move from Finn Harps to Doncaster Rovers.

Staying with soccer St. Johnston’s Tyler Toland played the full game as the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team defeated Portugal 3-1 in an international friendly. Greencastle’s Roma McLaughlin came on as a late sub while also in the Irish squad were Milford’s Amber Barrett and Amy Boyle-Carr from Glenties. Toland and Barrett had both played on the previous Thursday when the ROI women lost 1-0.

Then after returning home from Portugal McLaughlin was named ‘Player of the Tournament’ as IT Carlow won their third successive CUFL Women’s Futsal Cup at the WIT Arena. McLaughlin fired home four goals in the three games on the way to Carlow lifting the national title.

January was good for Trentagh jockey Martin Harley who had winners on Author’s Dream at the Betway Stayers Handicap at Lingfield and then at Kempton Park on the 11/2 backed Thaqaffa in the 32Red Casino Handicap.


In athletics the good form of Letterkenny AC’s Karol Duggan continued as he finished 20th at the IAAF Antrim International Cross-Country Championships. Meanwhile, two other young LAC athletes Matthew Johnston and Donal Farren were members of the Ulster U20 team in Antrim while Glenswilly lad Sean McGinley, a member of the Derry Olympian Club was on the province’s U17 team. And Donegal representation was completed by Teresa McDaid of LAC who was manager of the Irish team while Finn Valley’s Neil Martin was in the charge of the U17s.

Farren and McGinley were also selected to run for the Ulster and Northern Ireland team at the UK Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, which take place at Loughborough in March. Letterkenny AC’s Fionnuala Diver was second in the O35 category and the LAC men’s team took gold at the Northern Ireland and Ulster Cross-Country Championships in Belfast. Letterkenny AC’s Ann-Marie McGlynn won the five mile Raheny 5 in a time of 26.44.

At the start of January there was big news for Finn Valley AC athletes Sommer Lecky and Dempsey McGuigan who were both included in the Northern Ireland team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, which takes place on the Gold Coast in Australia from April 4th to 15th.

Dempsey and his brother Fellan were at different venues at Collegiate meetings in the USA during the month throwing the heavy hammer. Dempsey was in action with the 16lb ball and reached out to over 20m at Vanderbilt meet in Nashville and the throw was close to his PB and Donegal best. It also moved him to 17th in the collegiate rankings in the USA. Meanwhile, Fellas McGuigan was out over 15m with his throw.

Raphoe badminton player Rachael Darragh was also included in the Northern Ireland team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia while in basketball there was disappointment for St. Eunan’s College who suffered defeat 44-32 to Colaiste Chiarain from Kildare in the All-Ireland U16 Schools Basketball Final in Dublin.

Letterkenny boxer Stephen McMonagle was also included on the Northern Ireland boxing team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Super-Heavyweight division. Staying in the ring Dungloe’s Matthew McCole secured a place in the Light-Welterweight Final at the National U22 Championships in Dublin after defeating Aaron Daly from Castlebar on a split decision to move into the decider. Near the end of January Labhaoise Clarke just missed out on a 10th All-Ireland title after losing on a split decision to Shauna Blaney at Dublin’s National Stadium.

There was great news for two young St Johnston players Scott Macbeth and Harry Pearson who were included on an Ireland U13 squad for Cricket Ireland’s Cubs Winter Training Programme. At the start of the month Declan Bonner’s first competitive game of his second spell as Donegal senior football team manager got off to an easy start with a 2-15 to 0-6 win over Queen’s University Belfast in Ballybofey in the McKenna Cup opener.

But, a week later ex-Donegal manager Rory Gallagher had satisfaction of putting one over on his former team in Ballybofey as his Fermanagh side defeated the hosts 1-13 to 1-10 in the second McKenna Cup group game.

In the final group game the return of Kilcar men Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty helped Donegal book a place in the McKenna Cup semi-finals thanks to a 10-point win over Monaghan in Clones (4-19 to 0-19).

Bonner’s men then had a comfortable seven-point win over Armagh in the Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final in Celtic Park, Derry thanks to a strong second half performance with Paddy McBrearty scoring eight-points (0-20 to 1-10). 14-men Donegal went down by just a single point to Kerry in an NFL Division 1 opener in Killarney (2-18 to 3-14). Bonner’s side who played from the 20th minute with 14 players following the straight red card received by Nathan Mullins led by a point in the dying minutes but the hosts came back to snatch victory.

Naomh Colmcille hopes of a big day out at Croke Park were dashed by Cork side Knocknagree who had a 2-9 to 0-7 win over the Newtowncunningham outfit in the All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final. On the last Sunday in January and despite a pretty encouraging performance the Donegal Ladies suffered a four-point (2-5 to 0-7) defeat to All-Ireland champions Dublin at the O’Donnell Park in their opening National Football League Division 1 game.

On the first day of January and for the second successive year Raphoe Hockey Club suffered defeat in the Linden Cup Final this time losing out 5-0 to Bangor in Belfast.  Setanta’s brilliant run in the All-Ireland series came to an end when the Killygordon outfit lost 4-12 to 0-13 to Ardmore from Waterford in the semi-final in Navan. Letterkenny lad Joe Dunleavy was named for the first time in the Ireland U-20 squad for the international Six Nations Championship.

It was a memorable month for Ramelton’s Catherine Grier who played her part as the Irish Deaf Sports Futsal team secured qualification for the European Finals in Finland after a 6-2 win over Italy in the Netherlands.

Swilly Rovers midfielder Grier played a key role and scored in opening 3-3 draw with hosts Holland. The Mulroy College Milford student’s performance earned her the Player of the Match accolade award. However, Grier’s participation in the weekend qualifiers was then cut short after sustaining an ankle injury in the game against Germany on Saturday morning.

Seamus Coleman returned to competitive action with the Everton U23s, ten months after suffering a terrible double leg fracture. The Killybegs native played just short of an hour as the Toffees defeated Portsmouth in the Premier League Cup.

On the last Friday of January

Carndonagh CS won the Ulster Senior Schools title for the third-year in a row after defeating St. Columba’s College Stranorlar 1-0 in Traighalough thanks to a second half Corey McBride goal.

The Scoil Mhurie Buncrana U15 girls clinched the FAI Schools Minor Ulster Cup title after a 4-1 victory over Carndonagh C.S.

And Moville Community School secured their place in the All-Ireland Schools Senior Soccer Final after a 3-2 win over Enniscorthy’s Coalise Bride.

In secondary schools GAA, St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny reached the semi-finals of the Ulster McLarnon Cup after an easy 1-16 to 1-4 win over Loreto College, Colraine in Owenbeg.