The 1980 and 1981 Donegal Sports Star Award winners were recognised tonight at the Mount Errigal Hotel, 40 years on from their achievements.
The 40th year anniversary winners are recognised every year but due to the pandemic, the 1980 and 1981 winners couldn’t be recognised in 2020 and 2021.
1980 awards were the fifth Donegal Sports Star Awards which were held in the Milford Inn on the 28th of November 1980.
The Awards were presented by the Special Guest Tom Walsh the President of the Handball of Association of Ireland. The schools presentations were made by Donegal County Council Chairperson J.J Reid.
Ronnie Catterson (Moto-Cross)
The first sport recognised this evening was Motocross which was very popular in Donegal in the 1970s and 1980s.
The winner of the Motocross Award in 1980 was the late Ronnie Catterson.
Ronnie’s son Stephen came up and accepted the presentation.
Moto-Cross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing held on enclosed off-road circuits and Ronnie Catterson was one of three nominees for the Award that year along with Sean Shiels, Letterkenny and Eamon O’Donnell (Manorcunningham).
Ronnie was one of the top competitors in that era and was also heavily involved in the administration of the sport along with the late Clement Harvey. He was the winner of the Donegal Championship in 1980. He also took the Workers Championship title and in total had 30 victories that year.
Ronnie Catterson sadly passed away in April 2011.
Audrey Macbeth (Badminton)
The next sport to be recognised was badminton and winner in 1980 was Audrey Macbeth.
The highlight that year for Audrey MacBeth was being the first lady on the Donegal team that won the prestigious Ulster Graham Trophy. Other successes that year included winning the Junior and Senior Mixed Doubles in tournaments in Convoy, Greenbank, and Raphoe.
There is a bit of a badminton reunion this evening as Audrey is meeting with the 1981 Donegal Sports Star Award winner P.J. Patton. Audrey and P.J. enjoyed a lot of mixed doubles success in that era in County and provincial competitions.
1980 was Audrey’s second time to win Donegal Sports Star Badminton Award, having previously done so in 1978. In 1980 she saw off the challenge of two other nominees Alan Graham and David Duncan to take the Award.
Hugh Doherty (Boxing)
We moved on to the 1980 boxing category and the winner that year was Hugh Doherty.
The Buncrana man was the Ulster Junior Welterweight Boxing Champion in 1980. Health and Safety wouldn’t allow it now but Hugh had to win three fights on the one day to take the provincial crown in Belfast. No surprise that Hugh was known in the sport locally as Hat-trick Doherty.
It was the last time where that was allowed to happen as boxing authorities changed the rules making it two fights on the day. In 1980 Hugh Doherty went on to reach the Irish Final at the National Stadium only losing out to a boxer who went on to be ranked third in the world.
Hugh did achieve the dream of being a national champion two years later in 1983 and was also named Donegal Sports Star Boxing Award winner that year.
Eamonn Browne (Cycling)
The next 1980 sport recognised this evening was Cycling.
The Cycling category winner in 1980 was Eamonn Browne who I have no doubt was one of the youngest to be honoured that night in the Milford Inn. Eamonn was actually making a name for himself in cycling as a nine-year-old in national competitions with Donegal Wheelers.
He was racing in Dublin, Belfast and even on the famous Mondello Park track. Eamonn achieved success at the National Community Games representing Donegal. He went on to enjoy senior team success in the All-Ireland Championships and also competed in the Ras twice in 1994 and 1996.
Eamonn has kept his interest in the sport going being involved in the development of cycling routes while working with Derry City Council. He also worked as Road Safety Officer with Donegal County Council where again the interests of cyclists were very much part of his remit.
Michael Carr (GAA)
There were three nominees for the GAA Award in 1980 – Michael Carr, Noel McCole and Michael Lafferty. And the winner of the Award that year was Michael Carr from Kilcar.
Micheal got the nod that year for his Man of the Match performance in Kilcar’s defeat of pre-match favourites Ardara in the County Final at MaCumhaill. It was Kilcar’s first senior title since 1925 and it truly was some performance as Carr edged out a young Martin McHugh who was the top scorer in that decider. He was also captain of the Donegal team that year.
Michael Carr had joined the Donegal Senior Football squad in 1973 and played over a decade winning Ulsters medals in 74 and 83. Michael played 23 years for Kilcar and one of his most satisfying successes with them was defeating Killybegs in a Senior County Final in 1993 when he was 39 years of age.
Eamon Harvey (Motorsport)
The next category this evening was Motorsport and the 1980 winner was the late Eamon Harvey from Letterkenny. His son Andrew came forward and accept the presentation on the family’s behalf.
That year Eamon Harvey saw off the challenge of the other two nominees James Cullen and the late Sammy Fisher. In 1980 Eamon had wins in the Donegal Motor Club’s Navigational Rally and was first in his class at the Donegal International Rally and Galway Stages. It was a busy year on the roads as he also had runners-up places at the Sligo Stages, the Harvest Rally and the Longford Stages.
Eamon Harvey died in January 2004
David Vance (Hockey)
The winner of the hockey award was the late David Vance. His son Geoffrey received the presentation on the family’s behalf.
David, from Woodlands, Raphoe played with the Junior team that went unbeaten for six seasons in Ulster picking up a string of league titles along the way.
David was committed to the cause for those years playing in midfield where he could be both creative and strong defensively when required. And it those qualities that earned him the hockey award in the Milford Inn on the 28th of November 1980. When that Junior team was formed in the 1970s most of the players were Manchester Utd supporters and that resulted in the strip being the Red Devils colours in those early years.
David Vance passed away in August 2021. We’re delighted that his wife Ann and son Geoffrey have travelled from Colraine to be us this evening.
Ladies and Gentlemen the late David Vance the 1980 Donegal Sports Star Hockey Award winner
Anne McGrath (Tennis)
There were three nominees for the Tennis Award in 1980 – Ann McGrath, Letterkenny and two from the Butt Hall Club in Ballybofey Ann McCafferty and Peter Bradley.
The winner in 1980 was Anne McGrath.
Anne one of the most promising young tennis players at that time. She represented Donegal in all the major competitions that year including helping the Butt Hall to to take the North West title and she was also the winner of the Donegal Open Mixed Tournament.
Anne was a regular on successful Inter-County teams at Quadrangular Tournaments and on winning Letterkenny sides in the Donegal League when the club scene was vibrant with teams in Donaghmore, Raphoe, Burt, Ballybofey Newtowncunningham, Ballindrait and Letterkenny Hospital. In Ladies Doubles Anne had a number of title triumphs with Anne McCafferty who is also here this evening as she was the 1981 Donegal Sports Star Awards Tennis winner.
John Campbell (Clay Pigeon Shooting)
In the Clay Pigeon Shooting category, the winner in 1980 is a man who had a lot of success at the Donegal Sports Star Awards. The winner that year was John Campbell from Ballybofey.
Unfortunately John couldn’t be at the event on the evening due to ill-health. However, Carmel Diver from the Donegal Clay Pigeon Shooting organisation accepted the presentation on his behalf.
In 1980 John Campbell was an Irish international. He was runner-up in both the Irish and British Opens.
His successes nationally and abroad saw him win eight Donegal Sports Star Clay Pigeon category Awards. And he had the honour of being named the Overall winner in 1982.
Brid Carr (Table Tennis)
The winner in 1980 of the Table Tennis award was the late Brid Carr who sadly passed away in August last year. Her niece Meg Carr came up to receive the presentation. Meg is no stranger herself to the Donegal Sports Star Awards winning three times in 2010, 14 and 18.
In 1980 Brid Car was making it back-to-back Table Tennis Awards after also being honoured in 1979. She had an impressive record in 1980 being the National Youth Club U18 champion. That year Brid was also the Donegal senior champion in single, doubles and mixed doubles. She also won County Junior Singles and Doubles and was a quarter-finalist at the Connacht International Open. She also had a successful mixed doubles partnership with George Peoples. Later in her sporting career Brid Carr also played GAA and scored a goal as St. Eunan’s won the first ever Ladies Donegal Senior Championship Final in 1992. A teacher at Loreto Convent Letterkenny she also managed the school team to a national soccer title.
Margaret McFadden (Handball & Sports Personality of the Year)
The Handball Award winner in 1980 was Margaret McFadden from Falcarragh. Margaret actually picked up two awards that night in the Milford Inn also receiving the Sports Personality of the Year. She started playing handball at 10 years of age under the legendary John Kelly in Falcarragh and from her early teens success began to happen on the national stage.
She first win a Donegal Sports Star Handball Award in 1978 and two years later she was back again after winning an All-Ireland Singles title in Croke Park. That was a stunning success as her opponent Elizabeth Hall from Oldtown Dublin hadn’t been beaten in five years. She also won a Tailteann Games Gold medal that year among other successes. We are delighted that Margaret has travelled from her home in Monaghan to be with us this evening.
Charlie McGinty (rugby)
The rugby award winner was Charlie McGinty from Donegal Town RFC. Charlie was one of the three nominees but as he headed to the presentation function that night in the Milford Inn he didn’t expect to be the winner because he was up against Charlie Mulgrew who was starring for Letterkenny at the time.
The other nominee that year was Ian McDonald (Ballyshannon). Charlie McGinty was best known for his performances at wing-forward and his try scoring prowess was key to Donegal securing promotion in the Ulster League that year. Charlie was a regular in a Donegal Town team that won three cups at Ravenhill in that era. The Townawilly man was also one of the founding members of the club in 1973.
Denis Bonner (Soccer)
The three nominees in 1980 were Denis Bonner (Keadue Rovers) and two Fanad Utd men John Kerr and a young Eddie McGinley.
The winner of the Soccer Award in 1980 was Denis Bonner.
A twin brother of Irish International goalkeeper Packie Bonner, Denis Bonner forged a very impressive career of his own in the League of Ireland.
Before that he played junior football in Donegal with his native Keadue Rovers where he was captain of the team that won the IAWS Cup in 1980 and they were also runners-up in a very competitive Donegal Junior League. A student at the Letterkenny IT at the time Denis Bonner played for the Irish Technical Colleges team against Holland and England that year.
Denis then had a two year spell with Finn Harps. When he started University in Galway, in August 1982, Denis was signed by John Herrick at Galway United and he went on to have seven seasons with the Tribesmen. Denis finished his top flight League of Ireland career in 1993 after three years with Sligo Rovers.
Nancy Buchanan (Appreciation-Tennis)
The next category was Appreciation, an Award that been part of the Donegal Sports Star over the past 47 years.
The Appreciation Award in 1980 went to a woman who put a lot back in to a sport that she loved dearly.
The winner that year was the late Nancy Buchanan a member of the Burt Tennis Club. And I will ask her son David Buchanan to come up and receive the presentation.
Nancy Buchanan had been a very active playing member of the club and continued to be so up to 2009 just a year before her death. Off the court Nancy Buchanan was a volunteer par excellence giving long service to the Donegal Tennis Committee and was its Secretary for more than decade. She worked tirelessly behind the scenes to develop the sport in the County and those efforts were fittingly acknowledged by the Donegal Sports Star Awards Committee in 1980.
Carmel Kelly (Best Sports Girl)
The next category on the evening was Best Secondary School Sports Girl.
The winner in 1980 was Carmel Kelly then a student at Loreto Convent Letterkenny. Carmel set a new Donegal High Jump record of 1.61m that year and she also enjoyed long jump and shot putt success at county and national level.
She was an Irish schools and club medalist in High Jump, Long jump and Shot putt. And there is no surprise that with that versatility Carmel Kelly was a National Heptathlon champion.
Now Carmel Cruise she resides in Foxford, Co Mayo where she is a secondary school PE teacher St Colman’s College, Claremorris. Carmel made the headlines in sport at the beginning of the 80s decade and made further headlines at the end of the decade when she had the honour of being crowned Mary from Dungloe in 1989. As a schoolgirl she was also selected for the Tailtean Games and Bells International in Edinburgh.
Eddie McGinley (Best Sports Boy)
The winner of the Best Secondary School Sports Boy Award in 1980 was a young man who was a big name in sport in that era Eddie McGinley.
In 1980 he successfully represented his school PCC Falcarragh in four different sports – athletics, basketball, GAA and soccer. When only a first year at PCC he played on the GAA teams in all age-groups up to senior in county and provincial competitions.
Eddie McGinley had a lot of highs in 1980. He was the outstanding player when PCC won the National Junior Schools title. He also won nine Irish international schoolboys caps. Eddie McGinley went on to captain Fanad Utd to an historic FAI Intermediate Cup Final win in 1988 while he also played a number of seasons in the League of Ireland with Finn Harps.
Eamon Harvey (Best Sports Teacher)
The penultimate category in 1980 was Best Sports Teacher.
The winner in 1980 was Eamon Harvey Donegal Vocational School (now the Abbey Vocational School). It was a year that the Donegal Town secondary school enjoyed a lot of success in a variety of sports and Eamon Harvey was central figure in a coaching capacity.
Best known in the sport of athletics Eamon has been a key figure locally in Tirconaill AC and going on to coach at national and international level including with the Irish team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Eamon Harvey was also involved with the Irish Para-Olympic team for 12 years.
Barney Coyle (Hall of Fame)
The final 1980 category this evening is the Hall of Fame and the winner in 1980 was the late Barney Coyle who had a hugely impressive record with the Gweedore GAA Club in the 1940s and 1950s.
We’re pleased that his son Eugene is here with us and will come up to receive the presentation on behalf of the family. Barney Coyle was a member of one of Gweedore’s great sporting families.
His brothers Jimmy, Joe and Paddy all won County Senior Championship medals. Barney Coyle got his first Donegal medal in 1944 and did so again in 1946 and 1947 and went onto to be a member of the three-in-a-row winning squad of 53, 54 and 55 in his favourite left-half-back position. In total he won seven Donegal senior medals.
Barney Coyle also featured on the Donegal senior side and was on the team that played Cork in a league semi-final at Croke Park in 1952. He also played club football in England enjoying success with Warwickshire, O’Hanlon’s in London and Four Masters in Coventry.
The other year that being honoured this evening is the winners of 1981. That year the sixth awards presentation took place in the Milford Inn on Friday 4th of December.
The Special guest that night was the Buncrana born Garda Deputy Commissioner Eamon Doherty. The schools presentations were made by Donegal County Council Chairperson Clement Coughlan.
P.J. Patton (Badminton)
The winner of the badminton award in 1981 was P.J. Patton from Ballyshannon.
P.J. was the Number one player in the County in 1981. He started his badminton career with the Ballyshannon Club before joining Laghey when he became a senior player. P.J. Patton enjoyed a lot of success with his club and Donegal winning a couple of All-Ireland League titles. His talent also saw him play for Connacht in Inter-Provincial tournaments.
This evening sees a very special reunion for P.J. with our 1980 badminton winner Audrey MacBeth. P.J. and Audrey were top mixed double team in the county winning numerous titles in those years.
John Fitzgerald (Boxing)
The next support being honoured tonight was boxing. The winner of the boxing award in 1981 was John Fitzgerald. The Kerry native was one of the top boxers in Donegal in that era.
In 1981 John made it all the way to the Irish Senior Middleweight Final at the National Stadium and came close to taking the title.
That same year he boxed at London’s Albert Hall in the European Police Championship. Similar to Hugh Doherty John Fitzgerald fought three times – winning quarter and semi-finals but again there was to be disappointment in the final.
He did win National Garda Boxing Championships. A long time resident of Kerrykeel, John was also on the Irish Garda Boxing team who took part in a tournament in New York in 1987.
John Loughrey (Clay Pigeon Shooting)
The next category was Clay Pigeon Shooting, an event that has been part of the Donegal Sports Star Awards since 1976 till Covid intervened in 2020.
The man who made sure the nominations were in every year was the late John Diver from the Mulroy Club in Milford.
The Clay Pigeon Shoot winner in 1981 was John Loughrey from Ramelton. His big success that year was winning the County Championship and an achievement that he is very proud of to this day. John had an interest in the sport from his mid-teens and was a loyal member of the Mulroy Clay Pigeon Shooting Club for many years until tendonitis forced his retirement. John turned 83 last month.
Ivan Wray (Cycling)
The next 1981 category is Cycling.
The winner in 1981 was the late Ivan Wray from just outside Carrigans. Robbie McCollum from the Four Masters Cycling Club was on hand to accept the presentation on his behalf.
It’s is especially fitting that it is Robbie as he was with Ivan in the Milford Inn 41 years ago for those Awards.
Ivan Wray’s big achievement that year was winning the Donegal League as a member of the Donegal Wheelers Club (now the Four Masters Club). He also finished 8th in the Irish Road Race Championships which was one of Ivan’s best performances. Stephen Roche who had just turned professional was second that day .
Ivan took part in all the big events in Ulster and down south. He also had a lot of success in local races and was renowned for being a tough competitor who had the ability to produce fast finishes.
A clear demonstration of his legacy to cycling is the fact that two annual Donegal road races are named in his memory – the Ivan Wray Time Trial and the Ivan Wray Memorial Road Race
Ivan Wray sadly passed away in February 2015. One of his life long friends, Tommy Burns, said at the time that “He was the Philip Deignan of the 1980s”. This framed scroll will be displayed by the Four Master Club in the Castle Cycle Shop in Raphoe.
Martin McHugh (GAA)
GAA wass the next sport on the list this evening.
The winner in 1981 was Martin McHugh. Martin McHugh made his senior debut for Donegal that year and went on to become one of county’s finest ever forwards. He had made his mark the previous year with his club Kilcar winning the senior club championship and that fine form continued in 1981.
He was a member of the Donegal county team that won the All-Ireland U21 title in 1982 and the Sam Maguire ten years later. We are delighted that on the 30th anniversary two more members of that team are with us Anthony Molloy and Joyce McMullin. Martin McHugh also won three Ulster Senior Football Championships, two All Stars and, in 1992, the Texaco Footballer of the Year. He is also the proud holder of four senior club championship medals with Kilcar.
Michael McCallion (Handball)
The 1981 winner was Michael McCallion from Falcarragh. Unfortunately Michael cannot be with us this evening as he is residing in North Carolina, USA but our 1980 winner Margaret McFadden is going come up and accept the presentation.
Michael McCallion does recall that night in the Milford Inn 41 years and one thing big thing that still stands out for him to this day is just simply being at a such big event as teenager.
But, enough of that the award for that year in handball was successes in both singles and doubles. With another young Falcarragh man Seamus Sharkey they had taken an Ulster title and went through to the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny in the U18 age-group.
McCallion and Sharkey also won the Ulster Colleges Final representing PCC Falcarragh. Michael McCallion also took the singles title that year and is the last person from PCC to do so.
Representing Falcarragh and Donegal Michael McCallion won over 20 Ulster titles over the years. In North Carolina he continued playing and took senior state titles and represented the US in the World Handball Championships. Michael wanted to especially remember the late John Kelly who he said was the big influence for so many in the area in handball as shown with the numerous titles in male and female competitions.
Michael McCallion was a multi talent sportsman winning a 1985 McKenna Cup medal with Donegal as well as soccer successes with Fanad Utd
Paul Shiels (Moto-Cross)
The winner of the 1981 Moto-Cross Award was Paul Shiels from Letterkenny. Paul was honoured on the back of a very successful Donegal Championship run on a league basis which he won but only after a very competitive run-in with Ronnie Catterson and a couple of other local entrants and he was also up against competitors from Northern Ireland who were allowed to take part. The final round of the series was here in Letterkenny at the back of the Pin Tavern where Moto-Cross competitions still take place. Paul also picked up valuable points that year at Fintra House in Killybegs and Downings.
James Cullen (Motorsport)
The winner in 1981 was James Cullen. The highlight that year for the Letterkenny man was winning the Harvey Rally with co-driver Cathal McGettigan.
It was the first big success for James which was made even sweeter as he got the better of Austin McHale’s 2 Litre Escort. McHale one of the country’s top drivers at the time. And James says there was even an examination of his 1600 Sunbeam Car afterwards because it was such a remarkable achievement. James started rallying in the mid-70s as a navigator before getting into the driver’s seat in 1979.
The highlights of his career were undoubtedly his two Donegal International Rally wins in 1991 and 1999. He also had ten podium finishes in that rally. James Cullen went on win the Donegal Sports Star Motorsport Award five more times over an 18-year perior
Dessie Doherty (Soccer)
The winner in 1981 was Dessie Doherty from Carndonagh. A very highly regarded goalkeeper Dessie Doherty won two Republic of Ireland Junior International caps that year and was a member of a Carndonagh side that reached an FAI Junior Cup semi-final.
Carn went on a great cup run that year only losing in the national semi final to Diamond Celtic (Dublin) 2-0 in a game that was played in Buncrana. As a result of his performances with Carn in 1981, Dessie Doherty was called up to the Republic of Ireland Junior international squad. He was in goals for two games against Scotland.
The first resulted in a 1-0 victory in Dublin and in the return fixture in Edinburgh it ended in a 4-1 defeat. Since we announced Dessie as one of the anniversary winners there has been an extraordinary avalanche of good wishes for a man who is clearly very highly thought of especially in the Inishowen community.
Paula Martin (Table Tennis)
The winner in 1981 was Paula Martin from Fanad.
Like Brid Carr, Paula Martin was one of the stars of the sport in that area when Fanad enjoyed a huge amount of success at local and national level. In 1981 Paula was was a singles and doubles winner with Brid Carr and was also a mixed doubles champion in Donegal. Paula Martin was also member of the Fanad team who won the Donegal League.
Paula Martin and Brid Carr were a successful Ladies Doubles partnership for many years. In mixed doubles Paula partnered John Scott to many victories.
Ladies and Gentlemen the 1981 Donegal Sports Star Table Tennis Award winner Paula Martin.
Ann McCafferty (Tennis)
The winner in 1981 was Ann McCafferty from Ballybofey who enjoyed a lot of success that year with the Butt Hall Club in Ballybofey. She had one of the nominees for our Tennis Award in 1980 and four years earlier in 1976 she made history as being among the winners at the first ever Donegal Sports Star Awards on the 29th of November 1976.
Ann McCafferty also had victories outside the County in 1981. She was a regular on successful Inter-County teams at Quadrangular Tournaments and on winning Butt sides in the Donegal League when the club competition was intense.
In Ladies Doubles Ann McCafferty had a number of title triumphs with Anne McGrath and great to have the tennis winners of 1980 and 1981 with us this evening.
Paddy Gallagher (Rugby)
Rugby is the next category from 1981
The winner that year was Paddy Gallagher a member of the Letterkenny Club. Paddy was a key member of a team that won a couple of Ulster leagues in those years. Many people might think that Paddy’s rugby playing stemmed from a number of years spent in New Zealand.
But, despite earning the nickname name Kiwi he tells me that it was only some time after he came home that he began playing the game with Letterkenny RFC. The other sport that Paddy enjoyed success in was GAA with St Eunan’s winning a County senior title along with his brothers Anthony and the late James Gallagher. While the game of rugby is very competitive and physical Paddy Gallagher not only enjoyed that challenge but also the social element.
Kathleen Gallagher (Judo)
Kathleen Gallagher from Carrigart won the Judo Award in 1981. The then 13-year-old had a year to remember in a sport that was very new to her. She became Ulster Judo Champion after winning the U16 Final three years above her age group. That secured Kathleen a place in the National Community Games Finals in Butlins. She produced a terrific performance in the 50 kilos final against the reigning Irish champion and there was a lot of surprise when Kathleen didn’t get the gold medal and had to settle for silver.
The Gallagher family of Creevy, Carrigart enjoyed a lot of success over the years. And that has been recognised by the Donegal Sports Star Awards. The Gallaghers won the Sports Family Award in 1994 and Kathleen’s father Hugh took the Veterans Award in 2002. He won medals at the World Masters Championships after his 90th birthday.
Enda McMenamin (Golf)
Tthe winner in 1981 was Enda McMenamin. The Ballybofey man was a hugely talented sportsman and it was a very good year for Enda as he was on the Irish International team and also in 1982.
Enda McMennamin made it all the way to the Irish Amateur Close Championship Final in 1981 finishing runner-up to another big name of that era Declan Brannigan.
He was also on the Inter Provincial team that year where he was to be a regular for over a decade playing 29 Matches. He also had second places finishes twice at the West of Ireland Championship and also at the East of Ireland Championship where the winner was Gareth McGimpsey. At his home Ballybofey & Stranorlar Enda McMenmain set the Course Record of 63 which has been equalled just one since.
Joyce McMullin (Best Secondary Schoolboy)
The winner in 1981 was Joyce McMullin then a student at the Donegal Vocational School in Donegal Town (now Abbey VS). While Joyce would later become best known for his exploits with the Donegal senior footballers he was also a talented soccer player and as well as other sports including basketball and athletics where Eamon Harvey was one of his mentors. In 1981 Joyce captained Donegal VS to a County title.
Joyce McMullin went to win Ulster and All Ireland u21 championships in 1982 under Tom Conaghan and two men were also part of a great time for the Donegal Town club as they won Senior Championships with Four Masters in 1982 and 1983.
Joyce went on to win Ulster Championships with Donegal in 1983, 1990 and 1992. He was also an Allstar in 1990 and I’m not forgetting that he was a member of the historic All Ireland winning team in 1992.
Grace Fields (Best Sports Girl)
The next secondary school category for 1981 is Best Sports Girl.
The winner in 1981 was Grace Fields a student then at the Royal & Prior School in Stranorlar. In 1981 Grace was successful in a number of sports including hockey, javelin, shot put and basketball.
From Stanorlar, she was a goalkeeper that played on Royal & Prior sides that won both Ulster League and Cup Finals. Those performances saw Grace called up to play for the Ulster Schools team that year. Hockey wasn’t the only sport that Grace excelled in that year as she also won County Athletics medals in both the shot put and javelin.
While still at the Royal & Prior Grace Fields also played for the Raphoe Senior Ladies side. She continued to play the game when she moved to Derry but her work in the travel industry cut short her career. Some people here will be thinking that with a surname Fields is there any connection to the legendary Finn Harps Chairperson and former FAI President. Yes Grace is the daughter of the late Fran Fields who followed her hockey career very closely.
Ann Carroll (Best Sports Teacher)
The winner in 1981 was Ann Carroll who won the Best Sports Teacher Award that year after managing a Loreto Convent Girls side to an Ulster Junior Schools Camogie title.
On the 21st of February 1981. Loreto had a 4-1 win over Cross and Passion Ballycastle in the final thanks to a brace of goals from Andrea McHugh with Celine Kelly and Sinead McLaughlin also finding the back of the net. A native of Tipperary she moved to Kilkenny and played camogie at the highest levels in both Counties.
Ann Carroll played in five All-Ireland senior inter-county camogie finals, with the two counties in the 1970s, and won two (1974 and ‘76). She captained and top scored for Tipperary in her first final (1965).
Ann also won six All-Ireland club medals, two with St Patrick’s Glengoole in Tipperary (1965 and ’66), and four more with St Pauls, Kilkenny, famously bagging four goals for the latter in the 1968 decider.
At end of her career she played for a third county Donegal in the Junior Championship. She went on to become a director of camogie’s national coaching programme.
Ann Carroll’s contribution to the sport was recognised in her native Tipperary earlier this summer with a special award at a gala sports function.
PCC Falcarragh (Secondary school award)
The Secondary School Award is next on the list and we are doubling up here for 1980 and 1981.
PCC Falcarragh won the Award in 1980 and 1981 making it back-to-back successes. I will ask Principal Meave Sweeney and Fr. Sean O’Gallochoir to come up and accept the presentation
It was a golden era in terms of success for PCC especially in soccer and GAA. PCC won the U14 Corn Cholm Cille Cup in 1980. They were also crowned the 1980 U-16 Soccer All-Ireland Champions.
In 1981 they took the U-18 Ulster senior soccer title and won the Ulster U15 Loch an Iuir Cup title. Basketball also triumphed that year with the PCC U-14 girls winning a title. That was significant as it was the beginning of many golden years of success for basketball in PCC. Handball was also massive in Falcarragh in those years with one of their students Michael McCallion having huge success in 1981. In order to achieve those triumphs there were was a huge input from staff including Fr Michael Sweeney and Fr. Sean O’Gallochoir.
Ladies and Gentlemen the 1980 and 1981 Donegal Sports Star Best Secondary School Award winners PCC Falcarragh
19. Ian Smith (Appreciation Rugby)
Appreciation is our next category this evening.
The Appreciation Award in 1981 went to an English man the late Ian Smith who came to live in Ballyare, Ramelton in 1973 who went on to make an immense contribution to Letterkenny Rugby Club.
I will ask Letterkenny Rugby Club’s Marty Moylan to come and receive the presentation.
The story goes that couple had been planning to move to Ireland for some time and Ian’s wife Peggy wanted to settle in a county where there was no rugby team. What happened that year after they arrived – Not one but two Rugby Clubs were formed in Letterkenny and Donegal Town.
So that put an end to his wife’s wishes and Ian joined Letterkenny RFC who will celebrates their 50th anniversary next year.
Ian Smith who had played with Wilmslow Rugby Club made a huge contribution as an administrator moving up the ranks to become Chairperson and then President.
He was one of the key men who laid the foundations that ensured Letterkenny would be a club that would grow and just look at the fine facilities at Dave Gallaher Park now
He had extraordinary contacts in high places across the water that led to a number of club tours to England, Scotland and Italy with Letterkenny players staying in five-star hotels that Ian Smith was able to secure for way below the going rate.Some years later Ian Smyth moved to live with his son in Colraine where he passed away in May 2012.
20. James L Rankin (Hall of Fame)
The penultimate presentation of the evening is for Hall of Fame.
The winner in 1981 was the late James L. Rankin a native of Carrigans for his outstanding badminton career. James L is represented here this evening by his nephew Johnny who I will ask to come forward and accept the presentation.
James Rankin was a top badminton player in the 1930s and really was an international star winning the All-English Doubles Championships in 1939 at the Royal Horticultural Hall, in Westminster.
At the time the competition was considered the unofficial World Championships. He had a lot of success in singles competitions taking titles also on Scotland and Wales. His sister Kate and brother Jack also played for Ulster. James won ten Irish Open titles. James L Rankin passed away in 1997
Sean Carlin (Athletics 1980, 1981, Overall 1981)
The final category of the evening is the 1981 Overall Award
The Overall Winner in 1981 was Sean Carlin, Finn Valley Athletic Club.
Sean was also the Athletics category winner in both 1980 and 1981.
In 1980 Sean Carlin got the judges for the athletics category ahead of the late Hugo Duggan and club colleague Christine Gallen. Sean competed in the Long Jump for Ireland against Holland. That year he held the highest score ever for a native Irish man in the Decathlon and the national record. In 1980 he also held Donegal records in the high jump, discus, pole and of course the Decathlon.
Sean came agonisingly close to securing a place at the Olympic Games. He went into athletics full-time spending time in California with top US coach Sam Adams and in London with Illford AC where he won a Southern Counties Championship.
Sean Carlin enjoyed a lot of success on the national stage and set a Donegal records in the High Jump, Long Jump, Pole Vault and Discus. His late father John was a great athlete and Sean is full of praise for what the Finn Valley Club did for him and so many athletes for the past 50 years.
Last month Sean Carlin was induced in to the Donegal Athletics Board’s Hall of Fame.