JUNE REVIEW: Donegal stars shine on national and international stage

Ulster titles on the double for Donegal

June Review

Donegal's Kelly McGrory was part of the Irish Mixed 4x400m Relay team at the European Games

The first half of the sporting year has now past as the Donegal Sports Star Awards review looks back at the highlights from the month of June. Badminton, athletics, soccer, cycling, GAA, powerlifting, horseracing, gymnastics, rowing, boxing, motorsport and motorcycling all feature.

There was a joyful end to June for the Raphoe siblings Sam and Chloe Magee who won badminton bronze medals at the European Games in Minsk after defeating their Dutch opponents Selina Piek and Robin Tabeling 21-19 21-17 in the Mixed Doubles quarter final. It was the second time for the Magees  to win Euro bronze having previously done so in Baku four years. Earlier in the month Chloe and Sam Magee had also qualified for the semi-finals of the Spanish International Tournament after a tight 21-18 24-22 win over Hall and MacPherson of Scotland.

June was also good for Tir Chonaill  AC’s Kelly McGrory who was part of the Irish Mixed 4x400m Relay team that set a new national record with a combined time of 3:24.14 at the European Games in Minsk’s Dinamo Arena.

At home McGrory also won the 400m Hurdles Ulster/ANI Senior Final at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast in a time of 61.37 seconds. Finn Valley AC’s John Kelly set a new Donegal and Ulster record in the Shot Putt in Sweden with a throw 17.79 metres, that saw the St. Johnston man finish in fifth place. 

Kelly’s Finn Valley AC colleague Brendan Boyce had a third place finish in the National 20k Walk Championships in Leeds. The newly wed Boyce also got the good news that he will represent Ireland at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar at the end of September.

John Kelly, Finn Valley AC

Letterkenny Athletic Club's 2012 Olympian, Catriona Jennings, had a superb run in the grueling Comrades' Marathon in South Africa. It is one of the world's oldest and most famous road races. In the 94th edition of the 86.83KM race, between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, Catriona was the third woman home in an excellent time of 6.24.12. In a distance of more than double that of a Marathon, Catriona’s average pace was 4.25/km. 

On the first day of June Abbey VS student Niamh Mohan won gold in the Inter Girls 80m Hurdles in Tullamore. Carndonagh man Karol Doherty was the first Wheelchair athlete over the finish line at the Walled Derry City Marathon in a time of 2.39.40. Two Letterkenny AC runners, Annmarie McGlynn and Eoin Hughes, turned in tremendous performances in the Irish Milers'  Track meeting at the Mary Peters track in Belfast. In glorious sunshine, Annmarie stormed to victory in the 5000m race in a time of 16.09. Eoin Hughes had a fine run and his highly creditable time of 15.47 gave him second place in the men's 5000m race.

Ulster titles for Donegal Men and Ladies

The Donegal Senior GAA men’s side made it back-to-back Ulster titles for only the second time in the county’s history with a comfortable five points win (1-24 to 2-16) over Cavan in the Ulster Final at St. Tiernanch’s Park in Clones.

On the last day of June, the Donegal Ladies won their third successive Ulster Senior Football Championship title with a quite superb 15-point (5-12 to 1-9) win over Armagh at St. Tiernach’s Park, Clones. It was manager Maxi Curran’s second time to achieve the provincial triumph after Michael Naughton who had been the manager in 2017. Termon’s Geraldine McLaughlin and surprise starter Niamh McLaughlin from Moville did the bulk of the scoring ending up with a combined total of 4-5.  

For the second consecutive year the Na Dunaibh club was crowned All-Ireland Junior Football Gaeltacht champions after a very comfortable 11-point win over Cork side Ballingeary (2.12 to 1-4). But there was disappointment for Kilcar in the senior All-Ireland Football Gaeltacht Final as Barry Doherty’s side lost to the hosts An Gaeltacht 0-12 0-11 with the winning point coming in the dying seconds of extra-time.

There was no joy either for the Donegal Minors and U20s. The Minors lost their Ulster Football Semi-final 5-10 to 2-11 to Monaghan at Brewster Park. Gary Duffy’s side went in level at the break but were outscored 2-5 to 0-3 in the second half. The Donegal U20s bowed out of the Ulster Championship losing 0-14 to 0-12 to Fermanagh in Brewster Park, Enniskillen.

Finesse Gymnastics Club

Bonagee Utd man Noel O'Donnell was one of the goal-scorers and Milford’s Gavin Grier also played his part as the Republic of Ireland Deaf Men International team won their European Quarter-final 7-5 against Italy in a 12-goal thriller on the Greek Island of Crete.

Creeslough lad Edward O'Reilly and Dungloe’s James Boyle were members of the Bohemians Amputee squad that won the Fussballiade tournament in Munich after coming through the group stages to book a place in the final against Shamrock Rovers. Boyle, who scored 11 goals in total in the tournament, gave Bohs a 1-0 half-time lead and they added a second after the break to take the trophy back to Dalymount Park. The versatile O’Reilly was in goals but is also a fine outfield footballer. He kept five clean sheets as Bohs went through the competition without conceding a goal. 

Seamus Coleman captained the Republic of Ireland in a 2-0 win over Gibraltar at the Aviva Stadium that sees Micky McCarthy’s side go into the summer five-points clear at the top of Euro 2020 qualifying Group D. 

Amber Barrett sealed a big move in her soccer career with the news that the Milford woman has signed for German Bundesliga side FC Köln.  The 23-year-old Republic of Ireland senior striker is turning professional and has landed a a two year deal with FC Köln.  In the middle of the month Finn Harps Academy Girls made history by winning the prestigious Antrim Rovers Summer Football Festival Plate competition. It was the first time ever that any female team representing Finn Harps has won an inter-club tournament. 

Newtowncunningham man Joe Barr won his category (age 60-69) at RAAM (Race Across America). The elite endurance cyclist completed over 3000 miles (5000 kilometres) in just 11 days, 16 hours and 12 minutes. RAAM is reputed to be the world’s toughest endurance cycling race and this time it proved especially challenging in the extreme weather conditions. Barr was taking part in the event for the third time.

Dunfanaghy Boxing Club Member Bernie McDonagh won the Irish Boys 452kg boxing title in Dublin to pick up his third All Ireland title by defeating Thomas McDonnell from Bray City ABC in a  final in the National Stadium in Dublin. The Twin Towns based VikingFit Club came home from the European Powerlifting Bench Press and Deadlift Championships in Limerick with 13 gold medals. 

Oisin Orr’s fine form continues

It was a June to remember for Rathmullan jockey Oisin Orr who had winners in Tipperary, Navan,  Limerick, Gowran Park, Sligo, Ballinrobe and the Curragh. Oisin’s brother Conor had a winner in Wexford. 

Dylan Browne McMonagle

Letterkenny jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle had a string of winners in June including a double at Loughrea, one on Ballybunnion Beach; four at the third meeting in the Northwest; five at Ballinagare Co Roscommon and five in  Shanahoe in Co Laois. That brought Dylan’s total to 30 for the season. 

In the middle of the month Kilmacrennan motorcyclist Caolan Irwin finished in third place at Brands Hatch in a race where there was less than a second between the front runners in the Pirelli National Superstock 600 Championship.

Caolan’s younger brother Rhys exceeded all expectations as he made his debut in the Dunlop Masters Supersport Championship at Mondello Park. Battling changing weather conditions and a field of much more experienced riders the 17-year-old old took a fantastic debut outright win as well as a hat trick of victories in the cup class for less experienced riders. 

Another Kilmacrennan lad Richard Kerr moved into fifth place in the Dickies SuperSport championship in the British Superbike championship (BSB). Kerr, riding the Campbell Motorsport Triumph, qualified in 11th position for round 5 of the series at Brands Hatch. Then on the last day of June, Richard had his best weekend to date riding in the Supersport class at the British Superbike Championship (BSB) in Knockhill, Scotland. The result there now leaves him in sixth place place overall and just four points off fourth place. 

In motorsport Declan and Brian Boyle were runners-up finishing 21.1 seconds behind the winner Monaghan’s Josh Moffett and co-driver Andy Hayes in the Limerick Circuit of Munster Rally, which was round four of the Triton Showers National Rally Championship. Letterkenny brothers Paul and Karl Reid returned to competitive motorsport with a two wheel drive victory. Declan Gallagher and Co-Driver Derek Heena won the Heartlands Rally in Laois in their Toyota Starlet. The Donegal crew were 1 minute 32.4 seconds ahead of fellow county men Mark Alcorn and John O’Donnell.

There was a good start to June for the Finesse Gymnastics Display Club as their Junior and Senior Display Teams won five out of the six possible awards at the National Indoor Arena in Blanchardstown, Dublin. And 13 members from the Finesse Club will represent Ireland at this year’s World Gynaestrada.

Young Inishowen rower Cormac McKinney won double gold at the Belfast Sprints event on the River Lagan. Representing the City of Derry Rowing Club, the 17-year-old from Bridgend was first in both the Open Club and Single Skulls races.

Finn Harps moved off the bottom of the League of Ireland Premier Division with a 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers in Ballybofey thanks to a goal either half from striker Nathan Boyle.

Raymond Foy, a member of the Castlefinn Celtic who won the Donegal Junior League Premier Division title, was named Player of the Year a the annual awards function in the Radisson Blu Hotel Letterkenny.

The Donegal Masters suffered their first defeat of the campaign going down 2-16 to 3-8 to Tyrone in Killyclogher.  And there was also defeat for the Donegal Hurlers who went down 2-11 to 1-4 to London in the Christy Ring Cup relegation play-off in Crossmaglen which means Mickey McCann’s side will be playing in the Nicky Rackard Cup next season. 

CYMS Club players Enda McMenamin and Robert Orr won the prestigious Creggan Veterans Pairs Open Tournament in Derry. McMenamin and Orr defeated Tracey’s Bar men Charlie Connaghan and Alan Healy 2-0 in the final.

For further information on the Donegal Sports Star Awards go to donegalsportsstarawards.ie or visit Facebook Donegalsport Starawards and Twitter @DLsportstars. 

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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