The spin-offs from the Termon’s Ladies historic success continued in January as star forward Geraldine McLaughlin picked up two more major awards while the team and manager Francie Friel were also honoured at the Donegal Sports Star function at the end of the month.
And on the weekend that he was crowned the Overall 2014 ‘Donegal Sports Star of the Year’ Mark English again demonstrated his pedigree as one of Ireland’s elite athletes by running a new 800m personal best (1:46:59) in an international medley relay in New York helping his country to second place just behind the USA. English’s Irish team also set a new record themselves for the distance medley with a time of 9:25:37.
Geraldine McLaughlin’s stunning performances for Termon in the run to the All-Ireland Final triumph was marked twice in the last week of January when the star forward was named ‘Ulster Ladies Club Player of the Year’ and she also received the ‘Brendan McDaid Memorial Special Achievement’ Award at the Donegal Sports Star Awards in the Mount Errigal Hotel. On the same night the Termon Ladies were also named ‘Team of the Year’ while Francie Friel was a most popular winner of the ‘Manager of the Year’s accolade.
Tirconaill AC’s Karl Griffin became the first winner of the ‘Young Sports Person of the Year’ category. The previous week Griffin had won the U-23 800m in a time of 1.51.18 at the Irish National Junior and U-23 Indoor Championships at the AIT International Arena. At the same championships Finn Valley’s John Kelly took the Junior Men’s Shot Putt title throwing 17.65 and the medal colour was also gold for his club colleague Arlene Crossan in the Long Jump (5.64) which was a new personal best while the Letterkenny girl took silver in the 400 metres.
Following her European cross-country senior bronze medal for Ireland before Christmas the Irish captain Anne-Marie McGlynn was named the Irish Times ‘Sportswoman of the Month’ for December. The Raphoe Men’s Hockey side progressed to the Irish Trophy semi-finals thanks to a 5-4 penalty strokes win over South Antrim after the match had ended 2-2 following extra-time.
Mulroy College Milford booked their place in the FAI Schools Senior ‘B’ Girls All-Ireland Final with a 4-2 win over Our Lady’s Secondary School, Belmullet at the Showgrounds in Sligo. Martin McHugh’s Sligo IT scored a super win over Queen’s University in a preliminary round Sigerson Cup tie in Belfast. His two sons Mark and Ryan were members of the team that recorded the 1-9 to 0-8 victory along with Stephen Doak (St. Michael’s) while other squad members included Eoin McHugh (Kilcar), Ciaran Thompson (Naomh Conaill), Stuart Johnston (St. Nauls) and Ryan Malley (Ardara).
It was a good month for badminton as the Donegal U17 Division 1 and Division 2 sides successfully defended their respective Ulster Inter-League Championship titles at the Jim Watt Centre in Garvagh. In athletics Letterkenny AC’s Peter Gibbons had an excellent run in the U-20s race at the Celtic Nations International in Dunboyne, Co. Meath. He was a member of the four-man Ulster team that picked up a bronze medal.
There was plenty of success for Donegal at the Ulster Indoor Championships in Magherafelt but it was disappointment for St. Eunan’s College in the U19A All-Ireland Cup Final losing out to Ard Scoil Rathangan 70-67 after having a commanding lead earlier in the decider. In the middle of the month Letterkenny man Stephen McMonagle, who fights out of the Holy Trinity Club in Belfast, lost out in his bid for a place the Irish Senior Heavyweight Boxing Final going down to Kenneth Okungbowa. Buncrana lad Jordan McGinley secured a move to full time cycling after signing up with Team iTap having previously been with the North Pole and Errigal clubs.
On the first Sunday in January Rory Gallagher’s reign as Donegal senior football team manager got off to a poor start as his team lost heavily to Derry in a McKenna Cup group game at Owenbeg. The following week Gallagher got a first competitive win under his belt as Donegal defeated Queen’s University Belfast 2-16 to 1-8 at McCumhaill Park. However, despite a narrow one point win over Fermanagh in Ballyshannon the Donegal senior football team made their exit from the McKenna Cup. On the last night of the month Gallagher and his Donegal side opened their Division 1 campaign with a 1-15 to 0-12 victory over Derry at McCumhaill Park.
The St. Eunan’s U-21 side advanced to the semi-final of the Paddy McLarnon Club competition thanks to an extra-time 1-8 to 0-9 win over St. Peter’s, Warrenpoint in Belfast. It was a late Lee McMonagle goal that forced the quarter-final to extra-time where the only two points scored during both periods came from the Letterkenny side courtesy of Darragh Mulgrew and Jordan McBride. Three Donegal girls Marie O’Reilly and Aine McGettigan (both Loreto Convent Letterkenny) and Lauren McElwaine (Loreto Community School Milford) received Ulster Post Primary All Star Awards at a function in Kelly’s Inn.
In the middle of the month Rory Kavanagh announced his retirement from the Donegal senior football team after nearly a dozen years. Coaliste Ailigh won their first senior school’s GAA title thanks to a 1-12 to 0-9 triumph over Ballinamore College while St. Catherine’s Killybegs took the U16B County Vocational Schools title with a narrow 2-10 to 2-9 win over Coaliste Ailigh, Letterkenny at the Pobailscoil Gweedore grounds.
In motor cycling Kilmacrennan’s Caolan Irwin was presented with his Ulster Champion title for his success in the 125cc GP Newcomers Short Circuit Championship at La Mon Hotel in Belfast. There was also good news for the 14-year-old Kilmacrennan lad who will step up to compete for Team Wylie Racing in the British Championship Moto 3 Class. In the first week of the month Burtonport man Joseph Duffy signed a multi-fight deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) the biggest Mixed Martial Arts organization in the world.
In rugby Letterkenny native Kieran O’Gorman was named in the Ireland Club extended 32-man squad for two international fixtures. O’Gorman plays his club rugby with Old Belvedere in the Ulster Bank League. The Donegal Youth League advanced to the knockout stages of the national competition thanks to Gareth Doherty’s goal in a 1-0 win over Inishowen at Maginn Park at the beginning of the month. Two Donegal girls Amy Boyle-Carr and Tyler Toland were named on the Republic of Ireland U-15 squad for a trip to Scotland in April. Boyle-Carr is a student at Glenties Comprehensive School while Toland is from St. Johnston.
In the middle of January five Donegal girls the Lagan Harps trio of Caoimhe Walsh, Ciana Brogan and Zoe Green along with Niamh McLaughlin (Greencastle F.C.) and Aoife McColgan (Illies Celtic F.C.) were members of the Republic of Ireland U-16 squad that had a 1-0 over Northern Ireland at Oriel Park in Dundalk. Carndonagh C.S. won the FAI Schools Senior Girls Ulster Cup Final by overcoming Loreto Convent Letterkenny 4-2 in Inch. And there was to be a double success for Carndonagh who also lifted the FAI Schools Ulster Junior Girls title thanks to a 4-3 penalties win over Mulroy College Milford after the final had ended 2-2 following extra-time.
Cockhill keeper Lee McCarron and Oisin Hassett, Newtowncunningham made their international debuts for the Republic of Ireland Schoolboys in a 1-1 draw with Australia in Dublin while Quigley’s Point Swifts Aaron McColgan featured twice for the Republic of Ireland U15s against Scotland in Listowel, Kerry. The LYIT secured their place in the quarter-finals of the CFAI Umbro Cup with a 1-0 home win over IT Carlow thanks to a goal from Cathal McDaid.
Six Donegal lads attended a Republic of Ireland U19 training camp in Dublin including Chris Flanagan (Letterkenny); Aidan McCauley (Moville), Ronan Curtis (St. Johnston), Joe McIntyre (Donegal Town) and Burt duo Patrick McClean and Georgie Kelly. Four Letterkenny Rovers players Adrian Delap, Daire O’Baoill, Jason McGee and Gareth Doherty were part of a home based squad involved in trials for the Republic of Ireland U-18 side.