The 1982 Donegal Sports Star Awards presentation took place in the Milford Inn on Friday 3rd December.
It was the seventh year of the Awards and Paddy Harte the Junior Minister at the Department of Posts & Telegraphs was the Special Guest.
The Awards Chairperson that year was Harry Blaney who had a special work of thanks for Brendan McDaid who was the main organiser of the event. Fr. Michael Sweeney who won the Best Secondary School Sports Teacher also acted as MC for the function.
Athletics – Hugo Duggan
Athletics was the first category 40 years ago in the Milford Inn and it is also the first this evening. The 1982 winner was Milford man the late Hugo Duggan and his son Karol came up and accept on behalf of the Duggan family.
Hugo Duggan had a glorious athletic career that saw him win seven national titles and a World Masters long jump gold medal in 1987. Hugo was named in the Donegal Athletics Board ‘Team of the Century’ and 55 years on he still holds the County and Ulster long jump record. He was the first Donegal man ever to win an Irish athletics title.
But, he was not just an athlete he was an all-round sportsman playing soccer, GAA and rugby. Hugo Duggan got a lot out of athletics as a competitor but when he retired he rolled up the sleeves and set about the task of forming Milford Athletic Club where he was the Chairperson for over 20 years.
Hugo Duggan began his athletic career with Cranford A.C. in 1961 taking part in cross-country events. He wore the Irish singlet on 15 occasions. Hugo joined Finn Valley AC in 1981 and teamed up with Irish Decathlon Champion Sean Carlin to record a national relays long jump victory for the club.
His biggest success was that long jump gold medal at the World Masters Championships in 1987. On that trip he also won the Australian Masters Championship in Tasmania.
Duggan was the overall winner of the Donegal Sports Star Awards in 1988 and the committee inducted the Milford man into its Hall of Fame in 2009. He was inducted in the Donegal Athletics Board’s Hall of Fame in 2017.
Tom Conaghan (Appreciation GAA)
The second category this evening as it was in 1982 is Appreciation. The winner of that honour in 1982 was Tom Conaghan from Donegal Town.
Tom Conaghan’s name is written very firmly into the history of this County’s GAA as the first man to manage Donegal to an adult All-Ireland GAA title. That milestone day came in October 1982 in Carrick-on-Shannon when Tom managed the Donegal U21s to that famous All-Ireland triumph over Roscommon.
As a result of that achievement he was named Ulster Manager of the Year in 1982. That same year Tom Conaghan also created another piece of history managing the Four Masters side who won the Donegal Senior Football Championship title for the first time in the club’s history. He certainly was a man of firsts with his County.
In 1988 Tom was in charge of the first Donegal senior team to be promoted to Division 1 of the National Football League. The following year he came agonisingly close to managing Donegal to an Ulster Senior Football Championship title.
Badminton – Sylvia Kearon, Raphoe
The third category at the 1982 Awards was badminton. The winner of the Badminton Award in 1982 was the late Sylvia Kearon. Sylvia’s daughter Jennifer and brother Jeff were in attendance to receive the presentation.
Formerly a member of the Chambers family from Raphoe Sylvia Kearon was a star performer enjoying a lot of success that year. Better known to family and friends as ‘Vi’, she had a hugely successful partnership with her brother Joey in mixed doubles winning a string of titles in the North West.
Vi was also a winner many times with her sister Hazel in North West Ladies Doubles tournaments. Joey and Vi went on to represent Connacht in the inter-provincials.
Vi Kearon was one of the best ladies badminton players in the North West in those days. She was a wonderful net player and very competitive which made her very hard to beat.
Tragically Vi aged 53 and her husband Leslie Kearon lost her lives in a road traffic accident in December 1994.
Stephen Friel – Boxing
The fourth category at the 1982 Awards was boxing and the winner that year was Stephen Friel from Buncrana. It was a year that Stephen Friel boxed twice for Ireland in the USA and also reached a National Final.
After he retired from competing Stephen has given a huge amount back to the sport in a coaching capacity at local, provincial, national and international level.
He was one of the founders of the Illies Golden Gloves Boxing Club in September 1998. Now in its 25th year Illies has produced over 50 national champions while the club has won numerous Donegal, Ulster and European medals.
Stephen was the Head Coach of a Northern Ireland team that won a ‘Best Nation’ Award at an international tournament in New Delhi, India in 2010. He was also Head Coach of a Northern Ireland team in Scotland in 2014.
Stephen Friel is a qualified IBA 3 Star Coach.
Brendan Dalton – Canoeing
The winner in 1982 was the late Brendan Dalton. Brendan’s daughter Lisa came forward to accept the award on the family’s behalf. Brendan Dalton made history by being the first Donegal man to be selected as a member of an Irish Canoe/Surfing team for a home international competition in Cornwall.
A native of Ballyshannon, Brendan resided in Letterkenny where he was a member of the teaching staff at Regional Technical College now the ATU.
He was a founder member of the Letterkenny based Abhainn-Muir Canoe Club. Brendan Dalton was also an instructor with both Irish Canoe Union and the Irish Water Safety Association. He was selected for the six-man Irish team following trials in Easkey, Co. Sligo.
He was one of the first people to recognise the potential of Gartan Lake as a centre for outdoor pursuits and began to take groups to kayak there from the late 70’s and to petition the VEC to develop a centre at its current site. He made the kayaks in his garage and there was never a knife in the house as they were used for the fibreglass!
Brendan Dalton recognised, loved and respected the natural resources that Donegal has. His involvement and enthusiasm for the outdoors has left an indelible mark on the counties water-sports and on many, many people who were lucky enough to share his skills, sense of adventure and his joy in sharing his Dalton’s Donegal.
Martin McHugh (GAA)
The winner in 1982 was Martin McHugh. The highlight of that year for the Kilcar man was undoubtedly being a member of the Donegal team that won the All-Ireland U21 title in 1982.
He was part of an historic achievement as the first team from the County to win an All-Ireland adult title. From centre-half-forward Martin McHugh played a pivotal role with five points in the 0-8 to 0-5 victory over Laois on a wet Sunday afternoon in Carrick-on-Shannon.
That success laid the foundations for the Sam Maguire title ten years later with a team that included McHugh as a star man again.
When Martin’s son Ryan won an All-Star in 2016 he became the third member of the family to do after his dad and brother Mark. The Donegal Sports Star Awards Committee recognised the huge significance of that achievement by presenting Martin, Mark and Ryan with a Sporting Acknowledgement Award that year.
That made it a total of five Donegal Sports Star Awards for Martin McHugh. He had won the GAA category four times. The only footballer to do and that included a three-in-a-row from 81 to 83 and again 1985.
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.
Golf – Fr. Brendan McBride
The winner of the 1982 Donegal Sports Star Golf Award was Fr. Brendan McBride.
Unfortunately Fr. Brendan couldn’t be there this evening as he has returned to his parish in San Francisco after a short break back home over the festive period, but his niece Elaine Gillespie was there to accept the Award on Fr. Brendan’s behalf.
Fr. Brendan McBride has form when it comes to the Donegal Sports Star Awards. He was the winner of the inaugural Golf Award at the first ever Awards in the Milford Inn in November 1976. He was successful again in 1979 and his third and final Golf Award with us came in 1982.
Between 1979 and 1982 the Portnoo native was a very big name in the sport in Donegal. He was a member of the Donegal team that won the Ulster Johnny Walker Championship back-to-back in 1981 and 19882. That team lost out both years in All Ireland semi finals. Fr. Brendan McBride reached the semi final of the North of Ireland in Portrush.
He was third in East of Ireland in Baltray, Co Louth and made it to the Semi final of the South of Ireland in Lahinch. Fr. Brendan played for Ulster against Germany in Portrush. He was Runner-up in Mullingar Scratch Cup and finished 9th in the Willie Gill Irish Amateur Order of Merit.
In December 2015 Fr. Brendan McBride, President of the Irish Apostolate in the United States and founder and head of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco was presented with a Presidential Distinguished Service Award by President Michael D. Higgins at Áras an Uachtarain.
He had played a central role in providing support to the victims of the Berkeley tragedy in June of that year.
Friends say Fr Brendan would have been a professional golfer if he hadn’t become a priest.
Hall of Fame – Brian Anderson (Boxing)
Hall of Fame was the next category this evening. The 1982 Hall of Fame winner was Brian Anderson from Ballybofey. Brian’s son Brian came up for the presentation on his behalf.
Brian Anderson had a hugely successful boxing career. He competed in the men’s light welterweight category at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
As a featherweight he won the All-London Championships and then in May 1964 at the British Amateur Boxing Association Championships Anderson, now at light-welterweight was the subject of a controversial decision with the judges giving the winning verdict to Robert Taylor in the final.
He was selected for the English boxing team for an international match in Hungary in August 1964, and won both his bouts, including one against the Olympian Istvan Toth.
Brian Anderson was in the mix to be picked for the British team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He did go to Tokyo but it was with the Irish Olympic Team as a replacement for the injured light-welterweight Jim Neill. His close friend Jim McCourt won a bronze medal, with Anderson and team coach Harry Enright in his corner.
Anderson created history in 1965 when he became the first boxer from Donegal to win an Irish senior title, claiming the light-welterweight crown. In 1979, he founded the Twin Towns Boxing Club with his brother, Peter.
In February 2020 Brian Anderson was one of the 1964 Olympians honoured by the Ulster Boxing Council. His grand-daughter, Ciara, has followed the family tradition and is a two-time Irish champion.
Motorsport – Eamon Harvey and Sammy Fisher
We had joint winners in 1982 and two men who are sadly no longer with us Eamon Harvey, Letterkenny and Sammy Fisher a native of Ramelton who later settled in the St. Johnston area.
On January 3rd 2002 rallying lost one of its most memorable characters when Sammy Fisher passed away. In a career which spanned over 20 years he drove only one type of car – a Mini Cooper, usually yellow.
Sammy Fisher was highly successful, scoring countless class wins at all levels from his home Donegal International to the Circuit of Ireland. In the sport he was regarded as one of the best competitors in Clubman rallying.
He began his motorsport career in 1976 while working in McMcMahon’s Garage in Milford. His first big success was a class win in the Donegal International Rally that made him a hero in his hometown of Ramelton. He was also had eight class wins in the National Rally and went on to capture the Shellsport Championship.
An engineering teacher at the Deele College secondary school in Raphoe, Sammy was also a talented musician and played on the local showband scene for a number of years. Sammy Fisher died, aged just 46, while working on his beloved Mini at his home in St. Johnston.
The other joint winner in 1982 was Eamon Harvey.
It was the second Motorsport Award success in three years for Eamon Harvey having also won in 1980 when ironically Sammy Fisher was also a nominee along with James Cullen.
Eamon had plenty of wins in those years including the Donegal Motor Club’s Navigational Rally and was first in his class at the Donegal International Rally and Galway Stages. Eamon Harvey also had runners-up places at the Sligo Stages, the Harvest Rally and the Longford Stages.
Eamon Harvey died in January 2004
Rugby – Stephen Loughlin
The winner of the rugby award that night in the Milford Inn was Stephen Laughlin a member of Letterkenny Rugby Club.
Stephen Laughlin was a highly regarded open side wing-forward who was one of the mainstays of Letterkenny First teams in that decade. Stephen had a rugby backgrounds from secondary school at Coleraine Academical Institution.
A native of Ballybofey he was a member of the historic Forester Cup winning side of 1987 after defeating Malone 21-9 at Ravenhill. That team was captained by Allen McCrea and also included the likes of Robin McDowell, Charlie Mulgrew and Marty Carlin. Stephen Laughlin went to captain the Letterkenny Firsts in what was a fine career.
Eddie McGinley (Best Sports Boy & Soccer)
We take two categories together now Best Sports Boy & Soccer for our next person to be honoured from 1982. The double winner that year was Eddie McGinley. From his mid-teens Eddie McGinley was making a big name for himself in sport locally especially in soccer. And there was success on the national stage that saw him gain international recognition.
Eddie’s first award in 1982 recognised his starring role for PCC Falcarragh which earned him the 1982 Best Secondary School Sports Boy honour.
Eddie was a key figure as PCC Falcarragh took the national Senior Schools soccer title in 1982 after a fantastic 4-1 win over De la Salle Waterford in the Final at Belfield. Johnny Kelly scored a hat-trick that day and at the time was only the second player to do so following in the footsteps of former Sligo Rovers and Finn Harps star Paul ‘Ski’ McGee who had achieved that feat a decade earlier with Summerhill College.
As a result of their success PCC qualified to take part in an international tournament in Belgium. Eddie McGinley’s second award was in recognition of making his senior debut for Finn Harps as a 16-year-old and winning Republic of Ireland Youth international caps.
He played alongside boys that went on to cross-channel clubs and senior international football with the Republic of Ireland. Eddie was the centre-half, Denis Irwin was the right-back, the goalkeeper was Gary Kelly and in midfield was John Sheridan. Eddie McGinley went on to captain Fanad Utd to an historic FAI Intermediate Cup Final win in 1988.
Kathleen Gallagher (Judo)
The 13th category sport that we are remembering this evening is Martial Arts with Judo the successful discipline in 1982.
Kathleen Gallagher from Carrigart won the Judo Award in 1982 and it was back-to-back successes for her. The then 14-year-old was enjoying success in a sport that was relatively new to her. Her achievements included an Ulster Judo title in the U16 age group. She was competing against girls two years older than her.
That Ulster win 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.
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.
Athena Gallagher (Table Tennis)
The 14th sport that was recognised at the 1982 Awards was table tennis. The winner that year was Athena Gallagher from Fanad. Athena resides in Nashville, Tenneesse and cannot be here this evening.
Athena Gallagher started playing when she big enough to reach the table that her dad John bought to keep the children entertained at night. So it all started playing her brothers and sister in Moross.
Athena quickly began to love the sport. She played in the Community Games for several years. She represented Ulster and went on to play at international level for Ireland. Athena Gallagher became the No. 1 in Ireland after defeating the reigning and unbeaten champion.
Athena wanted to me acknowledge the huge role her parents Isabelle and John played in getting her to all competitions and the incredible coaching she received from John Scott.
Athena Gallagher has continued to play table tennis and as she told me pretends to most that she doesn’t know how to play but “I will give it a Go” – Opponents soon realise the opposite. This girl can certainly still play.
Sinead McLaughlin and Carmel Kelly
Best Secondary School Sports Girl
We move on now to our 15th category Best Secondary School Sports girl which had joint winners in 1982. The winners were Sinead McLaughlin and Carmel Kelly both students at Loreto Convent Letterkenny.
Sinead McLaughlin was an elite athlete in that era with her school and also with Finn Valley Athletic Club. She was a national champion and excelled in the long jump and also competed in the high jump and the 100m.
Sinead was a member of a Loreto Letterkenny team that won a National Schools title. In 1982 she ran a 100m in 13.90 seconds. She went on to set Donegal records in both Long Jump and High Jump in 1988.
Sinead McLaughlin’s feats in both disciplines still ranks her in the top three in the County. She also competed in Masters Athletics competitions nationally and abroad up to a couple of years ago.
The late Hugo Duggan who we have honoured this evening was one of Sinead’s mentors. Sinead’s achievements weren’t only limited to athletics she was also a member of a successful Loreto Convent Letterkenny camogie team that won an Ulster title.
The other part of that double act in 1982 was Carmel Kelly as Best Secondary School Sports Girl.
Carmel was winning the Award for the second time in three years as she set a new Donegal High Jump record of 1.61m. Carmel was a member of the Loreto Letterkenny team that achieved success on the national stage. 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 also a National Heptathlon champion.
Now Carmel Cruise she is residing in Foxford, Co Mayo where she is a secondary school PE teacher at St Colman’s College, Claremorris. Off the track Carmel made headlines in 1989 when she was crowned Mary from Dungloe.
The 16th category and sport that we are recognising this evening is Best Sports Secondary School
The winner in 1982 was PCC Falcarragh who were taking the Award for the third successive year.
It was a very close contest for the Secondary School Awards in 1982 as Loreto Convent Letterkenny was very much in the reckoning with their performances in athletics including those great achievements at the All-Ireland Finals.
However, PCC got the judges nod after winning the All-Ireland Schools Soccer Final and the fact that were going on to represent their country at a world competition in Belgium.
That came after a 4-1 in the national final. In the Ulster Final PCC had defeated St. Eunan’s 3-2 at Finn Park. PCC twice came from behind to draw level with goals from Sean Ferry and the late John O’Brien whose second anniversary occurred just yesterday.
PCC took the title thanks to a late winner from Killybegs man John Cunningham who went to star with the Donegal Senior GAA team. The PCC team that day was Paul Anthony McFadden, Paul Reynolds, Joe McFadden, Eddie McGinley, Joe Kelly, John Cunningham, John O’Brien, Barry McGowan, Sean Ferry, Aidan Boyle and Barry Cunningham.
It was a golden era in terms of success for PCC especially in soccer and GAA but also basketball and handball. In order to achieve those triumphs there were was a huge input from staff especially Fr Michael Sweeney and Fr. Sean O’Gallochoir.
Fr. Michael Sweeney (Best Secondary School Sports Teacher)
Our next category this evening is the (Best Secondary School Sports Teacher). The winner of this Award in 1982 was Fr. Michael Sweeney a member of the staff at PCC Falcarragh. The Fanad man masterminded PCC Falcarragh’s soccer successes in the late 1970s and 1980s.
He did have a lot of talented players at his disposal but Fr. Mick had to mould the boys into a team and that he did in some style. He was the manager of the PCC team who won All-Ireland Senior Schools Soccer title in 1982. That was a massive achievement for a small rural secondary school.
Managing teams was to be his game for over three decades. He was in charge of the Fanad side that won the FAI Youth Cup in 1979. No other Donegal team has achieved that feat since.
He went on to manage Fanad Utd to their first Intermediate Cup Final triumph in 1988 along with a string of Ulster Senior League titles. In total five teams under Fr. Mick’s guidance won national titles from 1978 to 1988.
Fr. Michael Sweeney was one of the founding members of the Donegal Sports Star Awards and was inducted into the organisation’s Hall of Fame in 2018. He is also our Honorary President
Surfing – William Britton
We move on now to the surfing category. The winner of the 1982 Surfing Award was William Britton from Rossnowlagh. The Britton family were the pioneers of surfing not just in Donegal but across Ireland.
They introduced the sport to the country in the 1960s. And Willie Britton started to make surfing headlines in the early 1980s winning three national titles.
That included 1982 when he was recognised by the Donegal Sports Star Awards Committee. Willie who has been oyster farming all his life and is still surfing.
He tells me spends more time in the water than on dry land. The extended Britton family has enjoyed a lot of success at Donegal Sports Star success.
Willie’s daughter Una was the Surfing Award winner in 2016. Una is a former Irish Junior and Senior title holder. And her cousin Easkey Britton was a Sports Star Awards winner in 2004 and 2006. Naomi Britton 2000 and John Britton 2010 have also been Award winners.
John Campbell (Clay Pigeon Shooting)
The final 40th anniversary category to be recognised this evening is the Overall Award. The 1982 winner was Ballybofey based John Campbell who sadly passed at the end of October at the age of 86.
Due to a recent family bereavement the family are unable to attend this evening but long-time friend Bartley McGlynn came up to accept the presentation on their behalf.
John was a proud Glenfin native and the took the Overall Award for his extraordinary achievements in Clay Pigeon Shooting in 1982. He also took the Clay Pigeon category that night in the Milford Inn.
John Campbell and Newtowncunningham man Jim Doherty are the only two Clay Pigeon Shooters to win the Overall Award since 1976.
John was a legend in the sport of Clay Pigeon Shooting for close on 50 years locally, nationally and abroad. John set Irish records and his top notch performances saw him included on five world teams making memorable journeys to tournaments in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Europe and the USA.
John Campbell was also a member of European teams on ten occasions. At the European Finals in France he won gold in the Three-Man team and silver in the Overall category. 33-years in a row John was on the Irish International team and also had the honour of being captain once. He was inducted into the Donegal Sports Stars prestigious Hall of Fame in 2017, having been a ten-time winner of the Clay Pigeon category.
He was a true legend, a gentleman, a great character and one of the best of all time on the clay pigeon shooting circuit.