In the April review of Donegal sporting successes Seamus Coleman’s achievements rank at the very top as the Killybegs man
was included on the PFA Premier Team of the Year at right-back. The former two times Donegal Sports Star Soccer Award winner was also named on the Sky Sports Monday Night Football team of the season. However, there was still a downside to the month for Coleman as Everton failed to qualify for the Champions League.
It was also a terrific month for Letterkenny’s Ciara Grant who was named on the Women’s National League ‘Team of the Year’ and she was also a nominee for the ‘Player of the Year’ award. A reigning Donegal Sport Star Award holder she also scored the third goal for her club Raheny Utd who retained the Women’s National League title with a 4-0 win over Shamrock Rovers at the AUL Complex.
Grant was also a second half substitute on the Republic of Ireland Senior Women’s side who were pipped right at the death by European champions Germany in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier at the Tallaght Stadium. The Irish had come from 2-1 down to draw level with a late goal. But in the dying seconds the Germans scored again to secure the three points.
Among the other sporting highlights in April were the county hurlers winning a league title and gaining promotion to Division 2B for the first time. And the Donegal senior footballers made a quick return to the top flight after just a season in Division 2.
On the GAA front Donegal returned to Division 1 of the National Football League following a 2-10 to 1-8 victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds. But Jim McGuinness’s side were well beaten by Monaghan in the Division 2 League Final going down by 1-16 to 1-10 at Croke Park. And there was shock news just two days later of the departure of All-Ireland medal winner Mark McHugh from the squad along with three fringe players Gary McFadden, Antoin McFadden and Thomas McKinley.
The Donegal hurlers lifted the Division 3A League title with a 4-12 to 2-14 win over Roscommon at Markievicz in Sligo. And a week later Ray Durack’s side made history by securing promotion to Division 2B of the National League after recording an excellent 2-16 to 0-8 victory over Fingal at Breffni Park. Donegal won the promotion/relegation final despite playing the entire second half with just 14 men following the straight red card shown to Jamsie Donnelly. The only blip for the county hurlers came at the end of April losing in the Nicky Rackard Cup1-12 to 1-11 against Roscommon but there is still a second chance to advance in the competition.
Letterkenny girl Christine Russell will be aiming to qualify for the Beijing Junior Olympics in the Triathlon category after the 15-year-old from the Woodlands was confirmed as one of only two Irish competitors among 65 participants heading to Holland for a qualification race. April also saw confirmation of the 2013 Overall Donegal Sports Star Award winner Jason Quigley’s move to the paid ranks when he signed for Golden Boy the world’s leading professional boxing management team based in Los Angeles.
Staying in the ring and after the disappointment of losing a World Youth Boxing Championship quarter-final in Bulgaria Finn Valley ABC fighter Michael Gallagher more than made up for that setback by winning a box-off the following day to book his place on the Irish team for the World Youth Olympic Games in China.
At the beginning of the month Declan and Boyle’s fine start to the season continued in the Subaru WRC as the Donegal crew won the Kerry Rally part of the National Rally Championship. And the Boyles followed that up by taking advantage of leaders Gary Jennings and Rory Kennedy’s crash on the last stage to finish first in the Circuit of Ireland. Another Donegal crew Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan were second in their Ford Focus.
The start of April was good for Finn Valley’s Sarah Collins, a student at Providence College Rhode Island, who set a new personal best time of 15:31:03 at the Stanford Invitational in California. Another Finn Valley AC member Mark Coyle won gold in the 1,500 metres at the Irish Universities Championship Finals in Waterford.
In badminton Chloe and Sam Magee suffered defeat in their respective doubles quarter and semi-finals at the Finish Open. In the Mixed Doubles Sam and Chloe lost to the eventual champions. In the Men’s Doubles quarter-final Sam and his partner Jonathon Dolan suffered defeat at the hands of the Danish pair who went onto to win the Open.
The Magees then moved onto the European Championships in Kazan, Russia where Chloe went out at the quarter-final stage in the singles against a Bulgarian opponent. In the Mixed Doubles Choe and Sam were defeated in the second round by the No 1 seeds from Denmark. In the Men’s Doubles Sam and his partner Jonathon Dolan were beaten by Dutch opposition in the first round.
In the middle of April Illies Golden Gloves boxers John Moran and Ryan Greene along with Edward McEleney (St. Bridget’s, Clonmany) won Irish Schoolboy and Youths titles at the National Stadium. At the end of the month Finn Valley BC’s Eoin McGarrell won the Boy 2 33kg Irish title at the National Stadium
Philip Deignan the Letterkenny cyclist was named on the Team Sky team for the Giro d’Italia. There was huge disappointment for the Donegal U-21s in the Ulster Final as 1-03 without reply in the closing four minutes, earned Cavan their fourth provincial title in a row, with a 2-06 to 0-08 win at the Athletic Grounds. At the end of April the Donegal’s Minors won the Ulster League title after a 1-15 to 2-7 victory over Tyrone at Brewster Park in Enniskillen.
On the same day the funeral took place of one of the county’s greatest ever GAA players John Hannigan whose death was learned of with deep sadness by Donegal Gaels at home and abroad. On the last Saturday of the month Swilly U-15s secured their place in the semi-finals of the SFAI Cup with a 2-1 victory over Kingdom Boys in Listowel despite losing home advantage which was part of the disciplinary sanctions handed down by the FAI followed alleged racist chanting during a game against Castlebar Celtic at the beginning of March.
At the beginning of the month Letterkenny lads Chris Flanagan (Finn Harps) and Ryan Rainey (Wolves) along with two Inishowen goalkeepers Harry Doherty (Charlton Athletic) and Peter Burke (Sunderland) were members of the Republic of Ireland U-18 squad who played two international friendlies away in the Czech Republic.
After a good start to the season April was not a good month for Finn Harps who picked up just one point from four games losing 2-0 to Shelbourne in a top of the table clash at Tolka Park where Josh Mailey was sent off in the closing minutes. A late Ruairi Keating penalty earned ten men Harps a 1-1 draw with Wexford Youths at Finn Park after Keith Cowan had been sent-off just before half-time. Ollie Horgan’s side suffered their second league defeat of the season going down 1-0 away to Longford Town with a controversial first half penalty deciding the outcome. And on the last Friday of the month Harps were beaten 2-0 by Waterford Utd at the RSC.
After a ten year gap Conrad Logan and Leicester City returned to the English Premiership then put icing on the cake by clinching the League Championship with a 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
At the end of April Glengad FC completed a cup treble by winning the Ulster Junior Cup defeating Gweedore Celtic 4-2 on penalties after the game had ended 0-0 following extra-time. At the start of the month Glengad collected their second piece of silverware of the new season winning the West End League Cup Final at Maginn Park with a 3-0 victory over Aileach FC.
Carndonagh Community School pupils Aoife McColgan and Shania McGonagle helped the Republic of Ireland U-15 Girls team to second place at the annual Bob Docherty tournament in England. Glencar Celtic lifted their first league title in the club’s ten year existence clinching the Division 1 crown after a 1-0 victory over St. Catherine’s in Killybegs.
There was heartbreak for Scoil Mhuire Buncrana who lost 3-2 after extra-time to Summerhill College Sligo in the FAI Schools Senior Cup Final at Maginn Park. Twice Paddy Carr’s boys came from behind with goals from Mark Coyle and Peter Doherty to force the decider into extra-time with the Summerhill winner came early in the first period.
Drumoghill F.C. secured the Donegal Junior League Division 1 title after a 6-0 drubbing of Bonagee Utd at the Dry Arch. Mickey Lynch’s side were promoted to the Premier Division along with Cappry Rovers. In Division 2 the winners were Copany Rovers who were promoted along with Whitestrand Utd.
In the middle of April Milford Utd and Castlefin Celtic booked their places in the Brian McCormick Cup Final following respective victories over Glenea Utd and Dunkineely Celtic.
Kyle-Callan McFadden’s impressive form earned him a one year contract extension at Norwich City which will keep the Ramelton lad at Carrow Road until the end of next season. At Aston Villa Shay Given accepted an invitation to step up to assistant manager Paul Lambert after two of the club’s coaches were suspended whilst an investigation was taking place.
Fanad Utd won the Colin Breslin Youth Cup Final in Ballyare denying Letterkenny Rovers the double but it took extra-time to find a winner courtesy of Conor Matthewson in the first period. Isle of Doagh man Stephen McLaughlin made his debut for Nottingham Forest in a Championship match against Leeds Utd at Elland Road. The ex-Finn Harps and Derry City player impressed setting up the first goal as Forest won 2-0. After missing out on the double three days earlier in the Colin Breslin Cup Final the Letterkenny Rovers Youth team won the John ‘Gorey Curran Cup defeating Ballybofey Utd 6-1 in the decider in Ballyare.
On the same day ex-Buncrana Hearts players Colm McLaughlin and Ryan Varna were members of the Institute FC side that won the Irish League Championship title and were promoted to play in the Premier Division next season.
Rathmullan Celtic were crowned Donegal Junior League Premier Division champions for the first time in the club’s history after a 2-0 win over Glenea Utd on the final day of the season. However, it also required Lifford Celtic to either lose or draw with Kilmacrennan Celtic in order for the title to go to Rathmullan. And Kilmac done them a favour by drawing with the reigning champions.
Two Brendan Devlin goals gave Carndonagh FC their first ever Premier Division title in a 2-0 away win over Buncrana Hearts. In triathlon news Letterkenny 24/7’s Gavin Crawford finished first in his age group and 10th overall at the National Duathlon Championships in Dublin.
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