Donegal remembers four former Athletes

Donegal Athletics Board will induct four former athletes from the county posthumously into the Hall of Fame. All four were born in the county and lived here for a large part of their lives but were forced to leave in search of employment. As there was no athletic club in the county they competed with clubs where they lived. All four won National Senior Championship titles.
Andrew Lawrence Colhoun was born in Rosbracken near Manorcunningham in 1883 and moved to Belfast in 1906. He joined Ulsterville Harriers Athletic Club and initially excelled as a half-miler and high jumper, he came second in the high jump in the IAAA national Championships in 1913 and was selected in the High Jump on the Irish team for the annual international between Ireland and Scotland where he also finished second. His best high jump was 5’11”. In 1914 he was selected in the shot for the international match between Scotland, Ireland and England.
After the First World War he concentrated more on the throws than the High Jump and in the 1922 Ulster Senior Championships then known as the Northern Championships he was first in the Discus, and runner up in the shot, hammer and high jump. In 1924 he was silver medallist in the shot at the NACA Championships and selected for the Irish team for the Tailteann Games, which were held in Croke Park and was to represent the country as an International each year from then to 1929. He retired from athletics in 1930.
Andy is believed to be of first Donegal Athlete to win a national senior championship and first Donegal athlete to be selected for Ireland. He was NACA national champion in the shot put in 1926, 1927, 1928, silver medallist in 1924 and 1925 and a bronze medallist in 1928. He represented Ireland in the Tailteann Games in 1924 and 1928, was selected for the Ireland, Scotland, England match in 1914, 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1929. His name appears in the results as Andy or A.L. Colhoun.
John J. Mc Gettigan was a native of Donegal town, he joined the Gardai in the 1930’s he became involved in Athletics as a member of Dublin Metropolitan Garda Athletic Club, the club dominated the throws events in the NACA national championships in the 1930’s. J.J. became Donegal the second person to win a National senior title when he won the Javelin at the NACA Senior Championships in Killarney in 1937 with a throw of 162 feet 4 inches (49.48m). This was the second longest throw in Ireland in the decade and stood as a Donegal record until 1981.
J.J. or Sean as he was known in the Gardai still holds the record for the longest throw by a member of the Gardai and was inducted into the Garda Hall of Fame for Athletics in 1972.
Politics denied J.J the opportunity to represent Ireland as the NACA were not allowed by the IAAF to compete at International level.
Paul Dolan was born in Ballyshannon in June 1927, his father was a garda stationed in the town. Paul was the first athlete from Donegal to represent Ireland in the Olympics and he took part in the London (1948) and Helsinki (1952) Games. The Dolan family moved to Dublin in 1945 and Paul joined Clonliffe Harriers. He Won the AAU Youths 100m and 200m titles in 1945 and went on to win seven national senior titles, 100m (1946), 200m(1947), 400m, (1949 and 1950) and became the first Donegal person to win the elusive Triple Crown of Athletics when he won the 100m, 200m, and 400m (1952). Paul retired from athletics after the Helsinki Olympics at the tender age of 25, he died in September 1998 at the age of 71. He is still the joint holder of the Donegal Senior 100m record and outright holder of the 200m record. Paul was selected on the Donegal Athletics Team of The Millennium in 2000.
His sister Anne is married to International soccer legend Johnny Giles.
John Gallagher was born in Cruit Island and excelled at the weight throwing events especially the shot. He joined Strabane AC in 1947 and won the shot and discus titles at the Ulster Junior Championships, and went on to take the Ulster senior titles also in the Shot and Discus. Later that year he was forced to emigrate to Scotland in search of work as a farm labourer, he continued to compete there, and set the Donegal record of 45 ft 10 inches (13.97m) at a Highland Games meeting in Thornton. This stood as the County Senior Record until it was broken by John Kelly in 2018.
In 1949 he became the fifth Donegal person to win a National Senior Athletics title when he won the shot at the NACA Senior Championships in Dundalk. The previous Donegal winners of National Senior titles were Andy Colhoun shot 1926, J.J. Mc Gettigan Javelin 1937, Paddy Haughey 10 mile championship 1946, Paul Dolan 100m championship 1946.
Like John Mc Gettigan politics denied John Gallagher a chance at international competition.
Because of Covid restrictions the ceremony will be held virtually.


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