Sport

Round-up: Find out more about the winners at the Donegal Sports Star of the Year Awards 2019

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Round-up: Find out more about the winners at the Donegal Sports Star of the Year Awards 2019

Over 600 people attended the presentation nights

The 2019 Donegal Sports Star of the Year Awards was a resounding success. Brendan Boyce of Finn Valley AC won the overall award. 

There were more than 180 nominations in numerous categories.

Former race walking world champions and five times Olympian Rob Heffernan was the special guest at the presentation dinner attended by 600 people in the Mount Errigal Hotel.

Athletics nominations

Brendan Boyce, Finn Valley A.C.

Mark English, Letterkenny A.C.

Sommer Lecky, Finn Valley A.C.

Winner: Brendan Boyce, Finn Valley A.C.

The Milford native, who previously competed at the Olympic Games in London and Rio, qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. To take part in one Olympics is a huge achievement, to take part in three is quite a distinction.

Early in the year he finished fifth in the 50km race walk at the European Race Walking Championships in Lithuania, where he set a new PB of 3:48.13 - shaving 42 seconds off his previous record. In April, he set a new Donegal 20k race walk record of 1:24.31. In July, he won silver in the men’s 10,000m race walk at the National Senior Championships in Santry.

The undoubted highlight of the year came in September. Coached by Rob Heffernan, Boyce turned in the performance of his life to finish sixth in the men's 50km race walk at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Finn Valley man excelled on the 2km loop course and finished in a time of four hours seven minutes and 46 seconds in searing heat.

Afterwards, Brendan said he would "go hunting an Olympic medal" in Tokyo. He also had a real quote of the year contender, when he said: "Being Irish, we just love misery so the 50K is perfect for me, being out there and being miserable for four hours!


Basketball nominations

Killian Gribben, Letterkenny Blaze

Maria Kealy, Letterkenny Blaze

Shannon Cunningham, Letterkenny Blaze

Shauna Higgins, Letterkenny Blaze

Winner: Shannon Cunningham, Letterkenny Blaze

Teenager Shannon Cunningham is a rising star.

Part of the Irish U16 Women's Panel, she helped Colaiste Ailigh girls to success by scoring 40 points in the U16 Girls C Cup Final last January,

She captained the Letterkenny Blaze U16 girls that won the U16 North West League, North West Super Cup, Basketball Northern Ireland League and Basketball Northern Ireland Cup competitions. She also helped the Letterkenny Blaze U18 girls that go to the North West U18 Girls Final and the BNI Cup Final.

She captained the Letterkenny Blaze U16 girls to the finals tournament at the All Ireland Club Championship where they won the Division 2 Title fighting off tough competition from the four corners of the country.

She made the transition to Senior Ladies Basketball becoming a member of the Fab Plus Senior Ladies North West Team playing in the National League Division One, and has also been training with the Irish U17 squad.

Shannon was also awarded an All Star Award from Basketball Northern Ireland.


Bowling nominations

Andrew Steele, Greenbank Bowling Club

David Bonner, St. Johnston Bowling Club

Jamie Glackin,Maghery Bowling Club

John Quinn, Ballylennon Bowling Club

Lee Jacob, Ramelton Bowling Club

Rachel McDonnell, Ballylennon Bowling Club

Winner: Andrew Steele, Greenbank Bowling Club

To win the national singles is a mighty achievement. To then win the champion of champions singles in the same year is an even greater achievement.

What a year it’s been for Andrew Steele. After those successes he went on to win the British Isles Singles title in Aberdeen.

So that’s three major trophies in one year for the indoor bowler from the Greenbank Bowling Club in Moville.

And the best could yet be to come.

He still has a chance to win the world singles in Belgium in March.

It’s understood that nobody has ever held all four titles at the same time.

Many people may be surprised to learn that there are more than 40 indoor bowling clubs in Donegal. The Donegal Zone stretches from Malin head down to Bundoran and even takes in Sligo.


Boxing nominations

Anthony Doohan, Dunfanaghy A.B.C.

Brenda Collins, Dunree A.B.C.

Brian McNamee, Convoy A.B.C.

Carlagh Irving, Illies Golden Gloves A.B.C.

Leah Gallen, Raphoe A.B.C.

Matthew McCole, , Illies Golden Gloves A.B.C.

Winner: Leah Gallen, Raphoe A.B.C.

Raphoe B.C.’s Leah Gallen began the year by competing in an international tournament in Bristol.

She won the National ‘Girl 6’ 66kg title and then followed this up with a fifth national boxing title in July as she won the national U18 69kgs title in Dublin.

This meant qualification to represent Ireland at the European Youth Championships in Bulgaria.

Here, she secured a bronze medal after overcoming her Turkish opponent in a three-round bout.

She wasn’t able to attend the awards as she was competing in the National Stadium in Dublin on Friday night, where she won the Women’s 69kg title defeating her opponents on a split decision.


Camogie nominations

Ailbhe Finn, Saint Eunan’s Camogie Club

Caoimhe Doherty, Letterkenny Gaels

Rhianna Gallagher, Carndonagh

Winner: Caoimhe Doherty, Letterkenny Gaels

What a year it has been for Caoimhe Doherty of Letterkenny Gaels.

She captained Donegal to the ‘Strike for Glory’ Minor All Ireland Final in 2019 where they lost out to Louth by just one point.

Caoimhe has had an outstanding year winning the double ‘League and Championship’ at Minor level, where she played for the Saint Eunan’s Minor Team, as the Gaels had not the numbers this year.

Caoimhe won the ‘Minor County Player of the Year, at the recent Donegal Camogie Awards.

She has been a fantastic leader at both County and Club level in 2019, and with the sport going through a period of expansion she has a bright future ahead.


Clay Pigeon Shooting nominations

Fintan Kilpatrick, Convoy

Jason Irwin, Ramelton

Patrick Boyle, Carndonagh

Winner: Patrick Boyle, Carndonagh

Patrick Boyle from Carndonagh is a member of Inch Gun Club.

Patrick won the Olympic Skeet Co.Championship, and came second in both the Skeet Doubles Co. Championship and the National Skeet Co.Championship.

He was also joint second in the All Rounder Co.Championship and that made him the overall winner on points this year.

He was also a member of the team that represented Co. Donegal in the All Ireland Team Shoot in Ballinasloe in July.


Rugby nominations

Charlie Worth,Letterkenny Rugby Club / Royal School Armagh

Joe Dunleavy, Letterkenny

Kieran O’Gorman, Letterkenny

Laura Feely, Ballybofey / Connacht

Mya Alcorn, Letterkenny Rugby Club

Winner: Laura Feely, Ballybofey / Connacht

Laura Feely first began playing rugby while at school after a new PE teacher arrived. She soon found it was something she really enjoyed and her career took off.

Having played at club and interprovincial level, the loosehead prop is very much part of the Ireland set-up.

Last February, she played in Ireland’s Six Nations opener against England and was the regular loose-head prop for the subsequent games.

While Ireland only won game, Feely’s performances drew much positive comment,

In November, the Ballybofey native started for the Ireland Women's team that lost narrowly 15-13 to Wales in the November international at the UCD Bowl.

She was in the panel for the Irish women’s side who will kick-off their Six Nations campaign this weekend.


Special Athlete nominations

Leon McDaid, North West Special Olympics Club

Siobhan McCay, North West Special Olympics Club

Winner: (Two Winners) Leon McDaid, North West Special Olympics Club &

Siobhan McCay, North West Special Olympics Club

The North West Special Olympics Club nominated two of its athletes, and you can certainly appreciate why.

Leon McDaid and Siobhan McCay both represented Ireland in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in March.

There was a strong Irish representation and they both featured for Team Ireland in Basketball.

There were 91 people on the Irish team that returned to a heroes welcome with an outstanding 86 medals, along with 46 placed finishes and many personal bests.


Cycling nominations

Callum Morris, Clonmany

Mitchell McLaughlin, Drumkeen (Zappi Racing Team)

Odhran Doogan, Powerhouse Sports Team

Sean Og Harrigan, Burnfoot

Winner: Mitchell McLaughlin, Drumkeen (Zappi Racing Team)

Mitchell had a great year in 2019. He won the cycleways cup in the snow by three minutes. He set a course record during a time trial in a league in Strabane.

He also won a race in the four masters league, and two time time trials, was third in a Challenge GP in Galway while in one of Ireland’s toughest races, the Tour of the Mournes he was fifth, getting caught just 200 metres before the line.

A member of the Four Masters Cycling Club he also won the Cycleways GP.

As a result of his great performances he got a contract for 2020 with Zappi, an under-23 continental team based in Spain and Italy and hopefully he will ride in the u23 Giro de Italia for them.

Incidentally, he did a charity 600km Mizen to Malin cycle in 21 hours 32 minutes


Equestrian nominations

Dylan Browne McMonagle, Letterkenny

Kenneth Graham, Muff

Oisin Orr, Rathmullan

Winner: Kenneth Graham, Muff

Kenneth had a truly remarkable year with a string of notable results in showjumping arenas around the country.

Among his biggest achievements were third place in a Longines World Ranking Class event in Bolesworth, fourth place in his class at Hickstead, a class placing at the RDS Dublin Horseshow.

He topped off a successful year, by winning the Cavan International Grand Prix with the Irish Sport Horse mare Beir Bua. This win allowed Kenneth to claim the 2019 Horse Sport Ireland International Show Jumping Challenge Bonus of €10,000. Kenneth was able to claim this bonus as a result of being placed in the top 3 in 2 International Grand Prix’s around Ireland this year.

Significantly, back in November 2018, there was a devastating fire at Kenneth’s Lenamore Sport Horse Stables, outside Muff and two of the horses perished on that awful evening.

Kenneth lost all of his equipment, the housing for the horses and his lorry in that fire as well as the horrific loss of two competition horses. His girlfriend was also hospitalised with burns as a result of their efforts to save most of the horses that were trapped in the stables.

Since then, he has worked hard to rebuild his stables, and has done remarkably well to not only do this but also to have an incredible year on the showjumping circuit as well.


Gaelic Football nominations

Ciaran Thompson, Naomh Conaill

Geraldine McLaughlin, Termon

Michael Murphy, Glenswilly

Róisín Rodgers, Naomh Muire Íochtar Na Rosann

Winner: Michael Murphy, Glenswilly

Michael Murphy led Donegal to a second successive Ulster SFC title in a season that once again illustrated just what a wonderful player he is.

He was named as the football GAA/GPA Player of the Month for July after producing super displays in the win over Meath, the draw with Kerry and against Mayo in the final Super 8s game. He scored 2-25 during the championship.

He was honoured with his third All-Star Award at the PwC Awards at the Convention Centre in Dublin. The Donegal captain had previously collected the award in 2012 and 2014.

And in November, he picked up the Footballer of the Year award at the Ulster GAA President’s awards.

Gymnastics nominations

Amy Fox, Citadel Gymnastics

Leon Hughes, Citadel Gymnastics

Ruby McBride, Dungloe

Winner: Ruby McBride, Dungloe

Of all the nominations, nobody had more supporting documentation than Ruby, who is a member of both Gymnastics Ireland and British Gymnastics.

She was one of ten gymnasts selected to join the WAG (women’s artistic) team in Twisters, and she was selected to train in the British Gymnastics National Development pathway.

She won countless medals in competitions at venues all around Ireland, excelling in the uneven bars, vault, floor and balance beam events.

She has been a valuable member of the Finesse Gymnastics team, who represented Ireland at the World Gymnastrada in Austria where 20,000 gymnasts from 60 countries took part. She also performed with them in London, and has been selected for the Gym for Life world event in Portugal in 2021.

She was selected for Team Northern Ireland for the world championships and is also enrolled in the British Gymnastics Young Leadership Academy.

Last year she travelled to Wales and to Texas for special training camps as well as to New York. She also represented LK Gymnastics in the Community Games and went on to represent Donegal in Limerick.

Ruby trains for around 35 hours a week, splitting her time between Letterkenny, Derry and Belfast (once a month). She is a most worthy winner.


Hockey nominations

Ben Wallace, Raphoe (Annadale Hockey Club, Belfast)

Johnny Long, Raphoe Hockey Club

Megan Frazer, Ulster Elks

Tom Eaton, Raphoe Hockey Club

Tommy Orr, Raphoe Hockey Club

Winner: Megan Frazer, Ulster Elks

Megan Frazer, who has already played for Ireland in the 2018 World Cup, was part of the Ireland Senior Women’s Hockey Team set-up that secured Olympic Qualification last year.

The recipient of an Ulster University Sports Scholarship award, 2019 began in dramatic circumstances.

Last January, an accident during an Ireland training camp required Megan to have an emergency surgery on her hand, in Chile. But Megan returned to Captain her German club team, Mannheimer Hockey Club, where they finished second in the league.

She helped the Irisn team that secured Olympic qualification with a penalty shoot-out win over Canada in November.

Megan, who has strong connections with Carrigans where her family live, is training for the Olympic games next summer. During her Olympic Qualification year, Megan also obtained a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering.


Hurling nominations

Danny Cullen, Setanta

Gavin Browne, Seán MacCumhaills

Jack O’Loughlin, Buncrana

Winner: Jack O’Loughlin, Buncrana

Jack O’Loughlin was a key member of the Donegal senior hurling team last year, putting in some very consistent performances in the National Hurling League.

Having won honours at under-16 and minor level with Buncrana, he stood out as a real prospect and he has carried this on to now establish himself as a regular in the senior Donegal team.

Last year Donegal competed in the Christy Ring Cup which was a step up for many players but he attracted much favourable comment from opposition managers, indicating the high esteem in which he is held.

Committed and determined, and with a great attitude, the wing-back is a hugely energetic player who keeps himself in great shape and is set for a bright future in hurling for many years to come.


Martial Arts nominations

Emma Dolan, Three Rivers Karate Club

Eoin Crawford, Three Rivers Karate Club

Rebecca Burke, North West Shotokan Karate Club

Ruairi Dougal, Moville

Winner: Emma Dolan, Three Rivers Karate Club

Emma Dolan helped the Three Rivers Karate Club team to a gold medal in the England Open Karate Championships in Worcester.

In 2019 she won gold at the Central English open and she is the 2019 Swedish Open champion. She also won bronze at the Ishøj competition in Denmark .

She competed in the K1 youth leagues around Europe in Cyprus, Croatia, and Bulgaria and Italy.

Holder of a number of Irish titles, Emma qualified to represent Ireland at the prestigious World Karate Federation championships in Chile.

Emma is the only Karateka from Donegal ever to be selected to compete for Ireland at this level.

She competed in the Belgium open in November and Italy in December 2019 and has been selected to take part in the WKF European championship in Hungary in February 2020.

Emma has been sponsored as part of a 2 year contract with “Arawaza” which is the leading Karate equipment used by Karate athletes worldwide.

Emma trains in Donegal 5 days per week and travels to Dublin or Cork most weekends for Irish squad training.


Motor Cycling nominations

Caolán Irwin, Kilmacrennan

Rhys Irwin, Kilmacrennan

Richard Kerr, Kilmacrennan

Winner: Rhys Irwin, Kilmacrennan

Motorcycling Ireland selected teenager Rhys Irwin to be the recipient of in excess of €25,000 in funding in 2019 given his status as the most promising Irish rider. He is the first and only rider in Irish racing history to be the recipient of a full spec racebike sponsored by Motorcycling Ireland.

He is competing at the highest level of racing at world level for racers between 13 and 18, and it is equivalent to Formula 1 Racing.

He had Ireland’s first podium finish in 63 years at a World Moto GP event in the Czech Republic. He had three front row starts at the Road to Moto GP BTC series, and finished in fifth place overall in the series.

He is the youngest racer ever to win a PRO Class 600 Race in Ireland, and had four Irish Championship wins and three pole positions.


Motor Sport nominations

Aodhan Gallagher, Carrigart

David Kelly, Donegal Town

Kevin Eves, Pettigo

Winner: David Kelly, Donegal Town

Donegal town’s David Kelly was shortlisted for the Top 3 Young Irish Rally drivers - and in doing so secured a minimum of €15,000 support towards his Rallying in 2020.

He has also been automatically entered into the Motorsport Ireland Academy for 2020 where he will receive driving tuition, fitness tuition and media support.

Kelly’s standout achievement during 2019 was winning the junior category of the Fastnet Rally.

He also had wins on the Cavan and Midland Stages rally events, as well as claiming second overall in the junior section of the Killarney Rally of the Lakes.

He also competed outside Ireland, taking part in four rounds of the BTRDA Fiesta ST Trophy.


Para-Athlete nominations

Catherine Grier, Ramelton

James Boyle, Dungloe

Oisin Merritt, Stranorlar

Winner: Catherine Grier, Ramelton

In January, a memorable run in the Deaf Futsal Champions League came to end for Ramelton’s Catherine Grier in the final on as her Doncaster side lost 3-1 to German side GTSV Essen. So it was a silver medal for Catherine and her mum Monica was similarly rewarded as a member of the coaching staff. Earlier in the tournament Grier scored twice as the English side progressed to the final stages of the competition.

In November, Catherine scored twice for the Republic of Ireland in a 13 -1 demolition of hosts Switzerland at the 4th World Deaf Futsal Championships.

She then played her part as the Republic of Ireland had a 6 - 3 win over Finland to finish 9th place at the championships in Switzerland.

Catherine’s international goal tally is now seven in 13 games for her country.


Power Lifting nominations

Caroline Dolan, Finn Valley Vikings

Edyta Piechowicz, Finn Valley Vikings

Jake Coleman, Finn Valley Vikings

Luke Thompson, Finn Valley Vikings

Paulina Coleman, Finn Valley Vikings

Winner: Edyta Piechowicz, Finn Valley Vikings

Edyta has had a fantastic year winning Irish, European and world titles not to mention also breaking eight national records and two world records

A member of the Finn Valley Vikings in the Twin Towns, she won four Irish titles, three European titles and three world titles.

And in October at the IPL World Powerlifting Championships the VikingFit team won five gold and one bronze medal while also setting two world records. Edyta Piechowicz was the top performer with three golds and three world records.


Professional Sport Achievement 

Winner: Ronan Curtis, Kildrum Tigers / Portsmouth

St. Johnston man Ronan Curtis, who played underage football with Swilly Rovers, has certainly excellence since he moved from Derry City to join English Football League side Portsmouth.

He made his debut for the Pompey club in August 2018 after five years at Derry City.

He won a EFL Trophy medal in his first season at the club last March - as Pompey defeated Sunderland on penalties at Wembley.

Curtis was born in London, and supported Arsenal as a boy but often went to watch Crystal Palace.

He moved to St. Johnston in east Donegal when he was young and played at underage level with Kildrum Tigers and Swilly Rovers before joining Derry City where he made 91 league appearances.

In total Curtis has played more than 65 league matches for Portsmouth, scoring in excess of 20 goals.

He has also made his mark at international level with the Republic of Ireland U21s before graduating to the senior squad. He made his senior international debut against Northern Ireland in November 2018.

On Tuesday night he scored a free in Portsmouth’s 2-0 away win over Lincoln City, a result that leaves his side very much in contention for promotion.


Rowing nominations

Cian Sweeney, Donegal Bay Rowing Club

Cormac McKinney, Bridgend

Luke Keaney, Donegal Bay Rowing Club

Michael O Boyle, Donegal Bay Rowing Club

Patrick Boomer, Loughros Point Rowing Club, Ardara

Winner: Patrick Boomer, Loughros Point Rowing Club, Ardara

Last February, Patrick Boomer and Fionnan Crowley won their second race of the day at the Ireland trial at the National Rowing Centre.

A member of the Loughros Point Club Patrick Boomer won the three senior events at the inaugural Ulster Indoor Rowing Championships hosted by the Donegal Bay Rowing Club.

A dedicated rower who trains hard, he has been ranked in the top five in the world in recent years.

Patrick Boomer was part of a Rowing Ireland camp in Varese in Italy and is a member of the Rowing Ireland High Performance team.

He has won Irish off-shore rowing championship titles for the past two years and will be hoping to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in the new FISA class.


Soccer nominations

Barry McNamee, Derry City

Daniel Gildea, Finn Harps Under 15 Squad

Fionnan Coyle, Gweedore

Georgie Kelly, Dundalk

Jamie Mc Kinney Finn Harps Under 15 Squad

Kerry Browne, Sion Swifts

Mark Anthony McGinley, Finn Harps

Sean Patton, Finn Harps Under 13 Squad

Winner: Georgie Kelly, Dundalk

Burnfoot man Georgie Kelly had a great season with Dundalk, and picked up his second League of Ireland Premier Division medal in a row after his side Dundalk defeated nearest rivals Shamrock Rovers 3-2 at Oriel Park.

He capped off a fine season by scoring one of the goals in the final game of the season as they defeated St. Patrick’s Athletic 4-0 at Oriel in the final league game of the season. He has played 36 league games for the Lilywhites, the best team in the country.

He also featured in the EA Sports League Cup Final as Dundalk overcame Derry City , and again in the FAI Cup Final against Shamrock Rovers when they were denied a treble as they lost out in extra time.

In November, Kelly scored twice in Dundalk’s Unite the Union Cup Final second leg 6-0 win (7-1) on aggregate over Linfield at Oriel Park.

Now, another big season beckons for the 23-year-old.


Surfing nominations

Bea Greenberg, Rossnowlagh Surf Club

Neil McCarthy, Bundoran Board Riders

Tiernan McCrea, Rossnowlagh Surf Club

Una Britton, Rossnowlagh Surf Club

Winner: Bea Greenberg, Rossnowlagh Surf Club

In April Bea won two surfing gold medals, the U16 Girls National Surfing title and the U18 Girls National Longboard title, at the Junior Championships held in Tramore.

She was 3rd in the U18 girls at the Celtic Cup and is also the under 17 female Irish champion Windsurfer,

Last August, the final event of the Irish Surfing National Junior Championships and Irish Water Safety National Junior Surf Rescue Championships ended up clashing on the same weekend.

The two bodies co-ordinated their schedule to allow surfers to compete in both, but most opted for one or other. Not Bea- she competed in the U16 girls surfing and U18 girls longboard on Saturday morning in Rossnowlagh, taking the title in both. She then raced to Mullaghmore to compete in the National Junior Surf Life Saving Championships on Saturday afternoon where she finished 2nd in the Beach Flags.


Swimming nominations

Cody Dunnion, Swilly Seals

Cora Rooney, Ballyshannon

Patrick Bond, Ramelton

Winner: Cora Rooney, Ballyshannon

Cora was an Irish 100 and 200 metre backstroke champion in 2019, was the Ulster Junior Backstroke Short Course winner in 2019 for hte 100 metres and 200 metres.

Her mixed club 200m Medley relay team were Junior Ulster Short Course Champions 2019.

Cora now trains with Enniskillen Lakelanders SC. She has around 11 hours a week of swim training plus one to two hours of strength and conditioning sessions.

She was selected onto the Regional Squad for her third year and her second year qualifying onto the Irish 'In-Touch' programme in Dublin.

She has also been selected on the Irish F4-24 swim programme based in Dublin, which is a female selection in preparation for the Female 4 x 200 free relay for Olympics 2024.

In June 2019, her Ulster girls relay set the Ulster Junior Long Course Relay Record in Aberdeen at the Scottish National Open Championships.


Triathlon nominations

Aidan Callaghan, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Anne Robinson, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Margaret Kelly, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Natasha Kelly, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Peter O’Donnell, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Winner: Aidan Callaghan, Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club

Despite battling with injuries all season and not making Ironman Cork, he made a return to the podium on home turf to race at the Gartan Sprint Triathlon in July where he finished 3rd overall in a very competitive field. At the Lough Neagh National Series Standard Distance triathlon he finished third overall.

He raced the Donegal Half marathon finishing in 1:21:03. This was all in preparation for his Ironman 70.3 World Championships which took place in France in September. He had another superb race in the event in Nice and finished and finished seventh overall and was the winner in the 35-39 age category in a time of 4:44:04.

He also won the Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club’s Overall Male Triathlete of the Year Award.

Primary School Sports Boy nominations

Caolan Mc Fadden, Schoil Mhuire, Creeslough

Luke O’Donnell, St. Oran’s N.S, Cockhill, Buncrana

Max Campbell, St. Riaghans N.S., Drumnacrosh, Glenties

Winner: Caolan Mc Fadden, Schoil Mhuire, Creeslough

Caolan McFadden had an outstanding year in athletics, winning a string of titles in Donegal, including first in the 800m at the Donegal Track and Field Championships, first in the long jump and first in cross-country in Donegal and Regional Championships.

He is also a county schools champion and in July he was the winner of the prestigious John Carlin Award for the Best Athletics Sports Boy in Donegal.

At All-Ireland level, in cross-country events, he has won five gold, six silver and six bronze medals.

Apart from athletics, he also enjoys soccer, Gaelic football, swimming and golf.


Primary School Sports Girl nominations

Caitriona McKinney, St Mura’s N.S., Tooban, Burnfoot

Cara Eaton, Raphoe Central N.S.

Jaime Mc Ginley, St Columba’s N.S., Ballylast, Castlefinn

Lauren Ní Chearrbhaill, S.N. Taobhóige, An Clochán

Orlaith McCrory, St Patrick’s N.S., Lifford

Winner: Cara Eaton, Raphoe Central N.S.

Cara Eaton captained the girls under-11 hockey team to victory in the Ulster Plate competition. More than 30 teams took part and this was the first time a girls’ team from Raphoe won this title.

In badminton, she represented the school and reached the quarter-finals in the All-Ireland National Schools championships. Arising from this she was selected for an Ulster under-13 team who competed at the interprovincials in Dublin.

In javelin she competed in the Donegal Schools Athletics Finals Day.

She also captains the school soccer team and as well as the local team in Raphoe at under-12 level.


Secondary School Sports Boy nominations

Conchúr Mac Meanman, Coláiste Ailigh, Leitir Ceanainn

Darragh Kirk, Mulroy College, Milford

Fionnán Mac Giolla Chomhaill, Pobal Scoil Ghaoth Dobhair

Jude Mc Crossan, Deele College, Raphoe

Luke Mac Fhloinn, Gairmscoil Chú Uladh, An Clochán

Ross Henderson, The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, Raphoe

Shane Breslin, Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town

Winner: Jude Mc Crossan, Deele College, Raphoe

Jude McCrossan won gold in the hammer event at intermediate level in the Ulster District C Schools Track and Field Championships and then just over a week later won gold in the Ulster Schools Final with a 47 metre throw.

He got a new competition PB with a 50.17 metre throw in the Tailteann Games in Dublin and just missed out on a medal in the boys 400 metres hurdles.

The highlight of his year was taking part in a Schools International Track and Field competition in Wales where he got a superb fourth place in the hammer competition.


Secondary School Sports Girl nominations

Adrienne Gallen, St. Columbas College, Stranorlar

Anna Hennessy, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Aoibhín Randles, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Ellie Long, Carndonagh Community School

Emma Doherty, Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana

Emma Dolan, The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, Raphoe

Emma Gribben, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Lauren Callaghan, The Royal and Prior Comprehensive School, Raphoe

Lucy McGlynn, Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon

Maria Kealy, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Michaela Galvin, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Molly Nulty, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Mya Alcorn, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Niamh Moohan, Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town

Sarah Bradley, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Shannon Ní Chuinneagáin, Coláiste Ailigh, Leitir Ceanainn

Una O’Donnell, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Winner: Niamh Moohan, Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town

Niamh Moohan represented Ireland at the International Schools Pentathlon in Glasgow in January where her performance helped the Irish team win bronze on the day.

She was on the Donegal Sportshall u15 team who finished 3rd overall in the British Sportshall Athletics Finals.

She won gold in the Ulster Schools 80m Hurdles and went onto win gold at the All Ireland Schools Track & Field Championships in Tullamore. This achievement was exceptional, considering she was competing a year out of her age group in the under 17 category.

She was selected to compete for Ulster in the Tailteann Games where she won gold in the u17 80m Hurdles.

At an International Schools competition in Swansea she won bronze in the 75m hurdles.


Coach / Manager nominations

Chris McNulty, Bonagee United

Declan Bonner, Donegal Men Senior Football Team

Karen Lavin, Killybegs Rowing Club

Mick Coleman, Finn Valley Vikings

Ollie Horgan, Finn Harps Senior Team

Trevor Alcorn, Termon GAA

Winner: Declan Bonner, Donegal Men Senior Football Team

Declan Bonner managed the Donegal senior men’s team that won the Allianz National Football League Division Two title as they defeated Meath in the final in Croke Park. Under his direction, Donegal’s brand of attacking football reaped dividends and with a number of fine young players coming through, there was a renewed optimism in the camp.

In the Ulster Championship Donegal defeated Fermanagh and then got one over great rivals Tyrone to set them up for another Ulster Final. Donegal proved to be too strong for Cavan and were comfortable winners as they retained their title. It was a second successive provincial title and Donegal, and a fifth in ten years.

In the Super 8s, Donegal got the better of Meath, and then drew with Kerry in a pulsating encounter at Croke Park before bowing out of the All-Ireland Championship as they went down by four points to Mayo in Castlebar.

Donegal are very much part of the big four in Gaelic football, and Bonner deserves considerable credit.

Incidentally, Declan was a winner of a Sports Star Award here many years ago in the soccer category.


Appreciation nominations

Ardara LGFA-Ability Rocks Inclusion Programme

Dessie McGlinchey, Finn Harps Schools Programme

Gerry Hannon, Letterkenny Blaze Basketball Club

Malachy Price, Letterkenny Boxing Club

Manus O’Donnell, Figary, Fahan

Winner: Malachy Price, Letterkenny Boxing Club

Malachy Price is synonymous with boxing in Letterkenny, and anyone who is connected with the club will know that he is both a gentleman and a legend in local boxing circles

His unstinting work and support for boxing was a factor in him being inducted into the Donegal Boxing Board’s Hall of Fame in 2019. He was a noted boxer in his day, and was the first Letterkenny man to win both an Ulster and a National title. On three occasions in the 1950s he won both honours. In his Ulster title success in 1959, his opponent lasted only 30 seconds. Tar barrels were lit at the Port Bridge to welcome him home.

This was a great period for the club with many great characters, including George and Jack McLaughlin (sons of John and Susie), Mickey ‘The Boy’ O’Donnell, Jim and John Price, Seamus Hoolihan, Peadar and Donal Higgins, Mickey Duffy, Andy and Jimmy McGranaghan, John McMonagle, James and Robert Callaghan, Hugo and Tommy Daly.

His family has strong links also with sons John and Jim and nephew Seamus having been involved down through the years.

And many a young boxer coming through the ranks has benefitted from his words of wisdom, and encouragement.


Team Award nominations

Bonagee United Ladies Soccer Team

Carndonagh Community School 1st Year Girls Football Team

C.L.G. Naomh Columba, Glencolmcille Ladies Team

Cumann Rámhaíochta, Cloich Cheann Fhaola

Donegal Masters GAA Team

 Donegal Ladies Senior Football Team

Donegal Men Senior Football Team

Donegal Schoolboys League 2007’s

Finesse Gymnastics Club, Letterkenny

Finn Harps Under 13 Team

Finn Valley Vikings Powerlifting Team

Glengad United Football Club

Illistrin FC U12 Boys Soccer Team

Killybegs Rowing Club

Lagan Harps U12 Girls Team

Letterkenny A.C. Senior Ladies Marathon Team

Letterkenny Blaze U14 Girls Basketball Team

Letterkenny Blaze U16 Girls Basketball Team

Loreto Secondary School Letterkenny Second Year Basketball Team

Naomh Muire Íochtar Na Rosann Ladies Team

Raphoe Senior Ladies Hockey Team

Winner: Donegal Men Senior Football Team

The Donegal senior men’s team bounced back from being relegated the previous year to get promotion from Division Two of the Allianz National Football League Division having won five of their seven games. In the Division Two League Final they beat Meath by 1-17 to 1-15 in Croke Park.

Blending in some younger players with some older heads, Donegal defeated Fermanagh and Tyrone en-route to an Ulster Final where they defeated Cavan by 1-24 to 2-16 in Clones. It was a second successive provincial title and Donegal.

In the Super 8s, Donegal beat Meath, and drew with Kerry in an absolute thriller before bowing out of the All-Ireland Championship as they went down by four points to Mayo.


Primary School (Small <100) nominations

Faugher N.S., Dunfanaghy

Scoil An Chaisil, Gleann Colm Cille

St. Columba’s N.S., Ballylast, Castlefinn

Winner: Scoil An Chaisil, Gleann Colm Cille

For a small school with less than 100 pupils, Scoil An Chaisil had a memorable year in 2019.

The school won the Cumann na mBunscol Boys Roinn 5 and Cumann na mBunscol Girls Roinn 5 titles.

They also won the Cumann na mBunscol Tráth na gCeist.

In the South Donegal Primary Schools Athletics, the schools had seven medal winners, and in the Donegal Primary Schools Cross Country Championships, there were ten medal winners from the school.

The school actively promotes sportshall athletics. In soccer, it competes in the FAI boys and girls sevens annual event while it also participates in an indoor Gaelic Football initiative, and now also promotes basketball.

The school runs a Rinka programme geared towards improving fitness levels and also has an active school week.

Despite its remote location - which means a lot of travel - the school continues to actively promote sport.


Primary School (Large >100) nominations

Glenswilly National School, Newmills, Letterkenny

Scoil Eoin Baiste, Carrigart

Scoil Mhuire, Doire Beaga

St. Eunan’s N.S., Raphoe

Winner: Glenswilly National School, Newmills, Letterkenny

Glenswilly National School has a highly successful year in 2019 in numerous sports.

The school won the Girls Medium Schools FAI 5-a-side County and Ulster title and were All-Ireland Finalists. They were also county champions in the 7-a-side competition.

The boys 7-a-side team were FAI County champions and won the Letterkenny 11-a-side Cup as well.

In GAA, Glenswilly boys won The Cumann na mBunscol Roinn 2 County title and also the Letterkenny & District GAA League.

The girls were runners-up in their Cumann na mBunscol category and runners-up in the Letterkenny & District GAA League.

In rugby, Glenswilly were the IRFU ‘Aldi Play’ District winners, and represented Donegal at the All-Ireland Rugby Festival in the Aviva Stadium.

There was also success in athletics, and other sports promoted range from tennis to hurling, basketball badminton, hockey, swimming and tug o war.

The school also has a Work Out Wednesday for the whole school that gets everyone moving.


Primary School Sports Teacher nominations

 Ciaran Gallagher, Scoil Naomh Fiachra, Illistrin

Joleen Mc Hugh, St. Columba’s N.S, Ballylast, Castlefinn

 Miriam O'Donnell, St. Mary’s N.S.,Stranorlar

 Triona McMenamin, Faugher N.S., Dunfanaghy

Winner: Triona McMenamin, Faugher N.S., Dunfanaghy

Triona McMenamin certainly loves her sport. The emphasis in the school is on participation in sport and developing an interest in sport and fitness.

The children participate in “Wake and Shake” and “Revive at 1:45” daily which involves running and developing fundamental movement skills.

All children participate in a six week swimming programme and there is also gymnastics.

Through active schools week children participated in a huge selection of sports including hockey, tug of war, tag rugby, dodgeball, circuits, athletics, yoga, hip hop, dance, golf, boxing and surfing.

Children participate in a lot of sporting activities with other local schools including a St Patrick’s Day Ceili, Cycle to Surf, Cycle Glenveagh, duathlons and GAA Blitz.

During the year, she coached and encouraged pupils to take part in the Donegal Athletics Championships and the Donegal Fastest Feet competition.

And they scaled new heights in 2019. She also led a group of third to sixth class children who climbed Muckish Mountain...and that is just a snapshot of the many things she did.


Secondary School nominations

Carndonagh Community School

Coláiste Ailigh, Leitir Ceanainn

Loreto Community School, Milford

Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Winner: Coláiste Ailigh, Leitir Ceanainn

For Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny, 2019 was unquestionably a year to celebrate on the sporting front. So let’s just pick out some of the many, many highlights.

In Basketball, the school became the All-Ireland U-16 Champions and Sannon Ni Chuinneagáin represented the school and her club on the Irish under-16 team.

In Soccer, the under-15 girls team won Ulster and All-Ireland titles, while the under-17 team were Ulster champions. In GAA, the under-18 boys side won a county title while an under-20 girls side won an Ulster title.

In rugby, Coláiste Ailigh were Donegal under-15 boys champions. Conor Mac Meanman played for the Irish Schools under-19 team and Ruairi Mac Fhionntaí was selected for the Ulster under-18 schools team. In athletics, the first year girls got bronze in the county cross country championships, and the junior girls has success at Ulster schools level.

That is just a flavour of things. The school boasts tremendous sporting facilities and works closely with sporting organisations and clubs as well and held a 5k event. One of its teachers, Maistir O Maolagáin ran every day for a month in April, and raised €6,500.

A group of students were BT Young Scientist winners with a project focussing on dehydration in athletes.


Secondary School Sports Teacher nominations

Adrian Doherty, Loreto Community School, Milford

Blaine Ó Maolagáin,Coláiste Ailigh, Leitir Ceanainn

Conor Doherty, Carndonagh Community School

Kate Kenny, Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Winner: Conor Doherty, Carndonagh Community School

Conor has been actively involved in introducing first year lunchtime indoor soccer leagues for first years to get students physically active early on in their new school. This helped to develop one of the key indicators of wellbeing including being active, responsible, connected and respected.


He managed and organised the travel for the Carn soccer team that won the prestigious Rod Houston Cup in England, as well as leading a fundraising drive.

He invested considerable time in recruiting TY students to get involved in the coaching/mentoring younger students.

He also recruited a female coach from Carndonagh Boxing club to complete a mixture of boxing and boxercise training with the students.

He coached sides that were Futsal Ulster and Irish Champions and coached several soccer and gaelic football teams.

And he also promoted student involvement in refereeing.


International Achievement nominations

Winner: Finesse Gymnastics Club, Letterkenny

Finesse competed at the Gymstart Challenge in the National Sports Campus Dublin which is the national arena for Gymnastics Ireland.

The club also competed in Gymnastics Ireland’s national flagship competition ‘The Floor’. The teams won an unprecedented five out of a possible six national trophies, this has never been achieved before.

In July, the Finesse gymnastics display team were selected by Gymnastics Ireland to represent them as the national team at this year’s World Gymnaestrada (WG) in Austria. It is held every four years around the world and is attended by over 20,000 gymnasts from 50 plus counties and six continents.

In August, Finesse gymnasts travelled to England to perform at the London festival of gymnastics. This is the biggest display event in the UK and is attended by over 1500 gymnasts.

As the year drew to a close, the club was awarded the highest accolade that it can achieve in Irish gymnastics. Finesse was awarded the best Gymnastics display team in Ireland. This trophy was awarded to them by Gymnastics Ireland and Sport Ireland for their outstanding contribution and achievements in gymnastics both national and internationally.


Brendan McDaid Memorial Special Achievement 

Winner: Manus O’Donnell, Figary, Fahan

Manus O’Donnell is well known throughout the county for his passion regarding sport. A previous winner of the Primary Schools Teacher Award, his influence over pupils attending St. Mura’s National School in Burnfoot was considerable.

Certainly for a small school it punched above its weight. He coached Gaelic Football, hurling, handball, rounders, camogie, judo, cross-country athletics and other athletics related disciplines as well as basketball.

No fewer than five pupils at the school have won Donegal Sports Star Primary School Awards. The school itself has also been an award winner.

Among those who he has helped coach and watch with interest over the years are Georgie Kelly, one of the nominees here tonight, and Nora Stapleton, the former Irish rugby international.

His enthusiasm, commitment and dedication have rubbed off on so many, and he is a worthy and popular recipient of this award.


Sporting Acknowledgement

Winner: Geraldine McLaughlin, Termon

Geraldine McLaughlin, the Terminator, was recognised for outstanding performances in June by winning the Croke Park / LGFA Player of the Month award.

In September, she scored hitting as Termon won the Donegal Senior Ladies title against reigning champions Glenfin at MacCumhaill Park on a final score of 5-6 to 2-13.

She was also one of the nominees for the 2019 Ladies All-Star team in the full-forward line. There were 45 nominees in total but McLaughlin was the only Donegal woman on the list.

In October, the Termon Ladies defeated St Macartans of Tyrone 1-9 to 2-5 to secure a place in the Ulster Ladies Senior Football final for the first time since 2014. Star forward Geraldine registered 1-8 of her team’s 1-9 total.

In November, she was one of four Donegal players named on the 2019 Gaelic Life Ulster Club All-Stars Ladies Team of the Year as one of the corner-forwards.


Special Recognition (Two Winners)

First Winner: Charlie Worth, Letterkenny Rugby Club / Royal School Armagh

In August, rising Letterkenny talent Charlie Worth captained the Irish U18s Sevens to victory in the European Championships in Poland.

The Irish took the title after defeating Spain 26-12 in the final.

One of a number of young rugby stars coming through from Letterkenny, a bright future beckons.


Second Winner: Mya Alcorn, Letterkenny Rugby Club / Loreto Secondary School, Letterkenny

Mya has represented Ireland in U18 girls rugby sevens and was part of the successful Ulster U18 girls XV again this season, her second in that team.

Letterkenny Rugby Club member Mya Alcorn scored a try for the Irish U18s in a 52-0 win over Georgia at the European U18s Sevens Championships in Poland. Ireland also defeated Latvia but lost to Scotland.

She’s Mya, who plays her club rugby with Letterkenny, is an outstanding talent, hard worker and will go very far in the game.


Hall of Fame

Winner: Seán Ferriter, Donegal GAA

This year’s Donegal Sports Star Awards Hall of Fame Award inductee is former Donegal GAA star Sean Ferriter.

Sean Ferriter was born in Milford on the 15th of September 1938.

He enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the county colours. He was on the 1956 Donegal Ulster Minor Football Championship winning team and made his senior debut as an 18-year-old against Tyrone.

Ferriter was the goalkeeper on the St. Eunan’s side that reached the McRory Cup Final in 1956.

At club level, Sean won a league medal with Dungloe and three Donegal Senior Football Championship titles with St. Eunan’s.

He had the honour of captaining the first ever Donegal team to reach an Ulster Final in 1963.

Ferriter played on many fine Donegal sides but there was to be no Ulster or All-Ireland medals for the big midfielder.

However, the retired Garda did play a significant role as the Dublin based ‘eyes and ears’ for Brian McEniff in the run-up to the historic Sam Maguire coming back to the County in 1992.

He played on two Ulster Railway Cup winning teams.

Interestingly his first time to play in Croke Park was as a 19-year-old for the Na Fianna Club in a Senior Championship semi-final in 1958.

Sean has a pretty special record when it comes to Croke Park as he played on the hallowed turf for four different teams - Club (Na Fianna); County (Donegal NFL semi-finals); Province (Ulster Railway Cups) and also for the Gardai.

In May 2012, Ferriter was named in the Irish Independent Donegal's "greatest team" spanning the previous 50 years.

He was also included in a Donegal Democrat Millennium team in January 2001.

His hometown club St. Michael’s in Dunfanaghy are among those who send him words of congratulations here tonight.

Sean is the 44th inductee into the Donegal Sports Star Awards Hall of Fame following in the footsteps of other household names like Fr. Michael Sweeney, Brian McEniff, Jim Sheridan, Danny McDaid and Eunan ‘Busty’ Blake.


Overall Donegal Sports Star 2019 Shortlist

Brendan Boyce, Finn Valley A.C.

Edyta Piechowicz, Finn Valley Vikings

Leah Gallen, Raphoe A.B.C.

Michael Murphy, Glenswilly

Patrick Boomer, Loughros Point Rowing Club

Rhys Irwin, Kilmacrennan

OVERALL WINNER: Brendan Boyce, Finn Valley A.C.

Brendan Boyce had a year to remember in 2019.

The Milford native, who previously competed at the Olympic Games in London and Rio, qualified for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. To take part in one Olympics is a huge achievement, to take part in three is quite a distinction.

Early in the year he finished fifth in the 50km race walk at the European Race Walking Championships in Lithuania, where he set a new PB of 3:48.13 - shaving 42 seconds off his previous record.

In April, he set a new Donegal 20k race walk record of 1:24.31.

In July, he won silver in the men’s 10,000m race walk at the National Senior Championships in Santry.

The undoubted highlight of the year came in September. Coached by Rob Heffernan, Boyce turned in the performance of his life to finish sixth in the men's 50km race walk at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Finn Valley man excelled on the 2km loop course and finished in a time of four hours seven minutes and 46 seconds in searing heat.

Afterwards, Brendan said he would "go hunting an Olympic medal" in Tokyo.

He also had a real quote of the year contender, when he said: "Being Irish, we just love misery so the 50K is perfect for me, being out there and being miserable for four hours!”