New National Record for Mark English


Live athletics returned to Ireland after a five months wait with the Elite Micro Meet in Abbotstown on Saturday and Sunday last, three Finn Valley athletes representing Donegal took part. Mark English, who was denied an opportunity to defend his outdoor 800m title because of quarantine regulations in force at the time, returned to form and ran a new National Senior indoor record in the 800m showing that he is bang on form for a good performance at the European Indoor Championships in Torun next weekend. On Saturday he was given a bit of a scare by the fast finishing Cian Mc Philips from Longford who was chasing a junior time. Marks time was 1.46.10 breaking his own indoor record and Mc Philips became the second fastest Irishman in history over 800m indoors with 1.46.13. The times run by both athletes on Saturday place them fifth and sixth in the European ranking list and leaves them with realistic chances of medals in Torun, and for good measure the third placed athlete Kildare’s John Fitzsimons also qualified for the Europeans with 1.47.80 run. The European Indoor Championships take place in Torun, Poland on 5th, 6th and 7th of March.  

Mark has had a strange year, he qualified as a doctor in 2019 and put his life on hold in an attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, which were cancelled last year, and are now scheduled for next July but the reports coming from Japan are still not very re-assuring. Hopefully they will be held safely and Mark and all the other athletes worldwide who put their lives on hold will get their chance to take part. I’m sure all of us in Donegal wish him luck.

Sommer Lecky won the women’s high Jump with a 1.75m leap with Cork lady Aoife O’ Sullivan from Liscarroll AC in second with 1.70m. James Kelly was first in the senior men’s shot with a personal best throw indoor throw of 16.72m, and this augurs well for the outdoor season and possible European Under 23 qualification.

Sommer Lecky       James Kelly FVAC



On December 7th last one of Donegal’s most decorated athletes Milford’s Hugo Duggan died suddenly. To say that this was a shock to all of us who knew him, competed against him or just admired his talent from afar would be an understatement.

In the 1961 Hugo was encouraged by his neighbour Eamon Giles to take up athletics, and he joined the newly formed Cranford Athletic Club, over the next few years he was part of numerous successful Cranford cross-country teams until he found his real calling as a sprinter, long jumper and multi-eventer. After many victories in Ulster his National breakthrough came in the at the NACA Junior Championships in Iveagh Grounds in Dublin when he won the 200m and Long Jump in 1966.

In May 1967 the NACA and AAU came together to form BLE and Hugo won the National Senior Long Jump title with a jump of 6.82m.This was historical not only because it was the first BLE title but because Hugo became the first Donegal athlete to win a national Senior title representing a Donegal Club. Five other Donegal athletes had won national titles previously but none had done this representing a Donegal Club. Hugo was selected on the Irish team for the international against Iceland. Also in 1967 Hugo won the senior Decathlon in Belfast and ran 11 seconds in the 100m to equal Paul Dolans Ulster and Donegal record which he set at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. Interestingly Hugo’s coach and friend Eamon Giles equalled that time in the Ulster Senior Championships that year and the three have jointly held the Donegal and Ulster records ever since. Hugo also set a Donegal and Ulster long jump record of 7.38m in Emyvale in 1967 and this figure still stands as Donegal and Ulster record.

The previous Donegal men who won National Senior Athletics Titles were Andy Colhoun, Rossbracken who represented Ulsterville AC in Belfast who won his first NACA title in the High Jump in 1912.  J.J. Mc Gettigan, Donegal Town who won the NACA Javelin title in 1937 representing Garda Metro AC. Paddy Haughey, Teelin who won the AAU ten mile title in 1946 representing Donore Harriers AC. Paul Dolan, Ballyshannon who won the AAU 100m title also in 1946 with Clonliffe Harriers AC. Cyril O’ Boyle, Glenswilly who won the NACA Senior Cross-Country Championship in 1951.

In 1968 Hugo was third in both the long and triple jumps at the BLE Championships again in the Cranford colours, but in 1969 he was forced to go to Dublin to seek work and he joined Clonliffe Harriers. He went on to win seven national senior long jump titles over the next twenty years.

Hugo travelled to Melbourne to take part in the World Masters Track and Field Championship in 1987 and won both the Australian long jump title and World Champion in his age group


He was a born coach and had a passion for imparting his great store and experience knowledge to young people, he was Chairman of Donegal Juvenile Board in 1997 and 1998 and founded Milford Athletic Club where he introduced many young athletes to many new events in particular sprints, cross-country, jumps and race walking.

Hugo Duggan

Hugo with James King and Brendan Boyce both medal winners in their events in the BLOE Championships in Tullamore.  Brendan went on to Represent Ireland in the 50km walk at the London and Rio Olympics, was sixth in the World Championships in Doha in 2019, and has qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Hugo is one of the most decorated athletes in Donegal, he was selected on the Team of the Millennium, and inducted into the Donegal and Ulster Hall of Fame. He is sorely missed by his wife Bríd his family and all of us in Donegal Athletics and in particularly Milford Athletic Club which stands as a monument to his vision and enthusiasm.


In May 1970 a triangular meeting took place in the St Colm’s Park in the Waterside between Donegal County Board, the New University of Ulster in Coleraine and the British Army. Donegal were represented by Eamon Giles, Patsy Mc Gonagle, P. J. O’ Carlin, Joe Mc Grath, Malcolm Mc Causland, Bernie O’Callaghan and Hugo Duggan who was home from Dublin for the weekend. Donegal dominated every event and a number of Derry athletes also took part 

Looking back at it now, it appears quite funny but at the time competition against the University of Ulster, which had just been set up that year, was forbidden by both BLE, to which we were affiliated and the Northern Ireland Athletics Federation to which U.U. were affiliated. Competition against the British Army would have been frowned on by all sides. It is interesting to note that the University of Ulster was suspended by the NIAAA in 1972 for competing in a University competition in Maynooth without permission.   In 1970 the British Army was still seen as a peacekeeping force by the residents of the Bogside and Creggan. Brendan Duddy of Oak Leaf AC in Derry hosted a reception for the teams after the event and sponsored fish suppers for everyone at his café in William Street.


100m 1. Eamon Giles, 2. Joe Mc Grath, 3. Hugo Duggan. 200m 1. Eamon Giles, 2. Joe Mc Grath, 3. Hugo Duggan. 400m Joe Mc Grath, 2. P. J. O’ Carlin, 3. Patsy Mc Gonagle. 800m 1. P. J. O’ Carlin, 2. Patsy Mc Gonagle, 3. Malcolm Mc Causland. 1,500m 1. Patsy Mc Gonagle, 2. P. J. O’ Carlin, 3. British Army. Long Jump 1. Hugo Duggan, 2. Joe Mc Grath, 3. Coleraine. Javelin 1. Bernie O’Callaghan, 2. Joe Mc Grath, 3. Patsy Mc Gonagle. 4 x 100m Relay 1. Donegal (Eamon Giles, Hugo Duggan, Bernie O’Callaghan, Joe Mc Grath) 2.Coleraine, 3. British Army. 4 x 400m Relay 1. Donegal (Joe Mc Grath, Malcolm Mc Causland, Patsy Mc Gonagle, P.J. O’ Carlin) 2.Coleraine, 3. British Army.






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