Feb Winner – Aaron McGlynn
Glenfin’s Aaron McGlynn is accustomed to sporting excellence, but even by his high standards, February was a particularly impressive month for him.
Aaron is renowned as one of the Donegal’s most promising young athletes and he continued his progression in February by winning the Ulster Schools Cross Country title in Belfast.
Eager to improve, he followed up that success by jetting off to Gran Canaria for a warm weather training week during his mid-term.
The teenager then rushed back from Spain to play with his Dungloe under 14 team in their National Cup game with Limerick side Pike Rovers.
Not much was expected of Pat Ward’s Dungloe team, but they caused a huge surprise by dumping out their opponents, with Aaron netting a fantastic hat-trick for his side.
Aaron is the youngest winner of the Donegal News Sports Personality monthly award since its inception in January 2012, but he is well used to picking up silverware.
He only turned 14 last month, but has already nine All-Ireland titles to his name. Humble and modest, the Gairm Scoil Chú Uladh student is well grounded despite his success.
A proud member of the Finn Valley AC club, Aaron has given huge commitment to the club since he first joined aged 10 years old.
He has found his niche in the middle distance running and with Peader McGranaghan mentoring him, Aaron has gone from strength to strength in the intervening years.
He won his district race to qualify for the Ulster final and on Tuesday, February 11, he overcame sickness to win the Ulster Cross Country Schools title.
“I won the Ulster title up in Belfast. I was sick before the race so I was surprised how well I did and it was great to win,” said Aaron.
“The school was very proud of me and they congratulated me over the intercom,” he added.
While his classmates were enjoying a relaxing break during mid-term, Aaron travelled to Gran Canaria with 63 other secondary school students for a training week under the tutelage of respected athlete Andrew Walker.
“I was over in Gran Canaria on my mid-term for three days, but it was no holiday. It was very tough and there was no going easy. I learned a lot of new stuff.
“There were other athletes from schools in Tullamore, Carlow and Dublin, and it was nice to mix with them and test yourself against them,” he said.
Aaron returned to Dublin on Saturday, February 22 and he arrived home in time to help Dungloe defeat Pike Rovers 3-2 in the last 32 of the under 14 National cup.
The Glenfin boy bagged himself a hat-trick in that game and although he acknowledges that his goals are important, he insists that he has to do more for the team than just score.
“They were really good and we were lucky we weren’t four-nil or five-nil down at half-time. But we stuck at it and kept going and I managed to get a few goals in the second-half.
“I play up front, and I was happy to score three goals. But I can’t just stay up top by myself. I have to work hard and tackle like everyone else.”
Aaron trains at the Finn Valley Centre three times a week and twice on his own at home. With such an active training schedule, it is inevitable that there will be clashes. He can’t always make Dungloe’s training sessions on Mondays night, but he tries his best to be there as often as possible.
March looks like being another hectic month for Aaron. He ran down in Cork last Saturday, before returning to Donegal to score the winning goal against Naas as Dungloe qualified for the last eight of the National Cup.
They will now face Belvedere in the quarter-finals on Sunday week, and it looks like Aaron will carry on his tradition of making a late dash for Dungloe, as he is also due to run for the Ireland Schools team in Bolton that weekend.
It’s a tough and challenging schedule. but he’s enjoying it.
“It’s really busy, but that’s not a problem. There’s a good buzz with Dungloe at the moment, and we had a big crowd out watching us and everyone is getting behind us.”
“It will be really tough against Belvedere, but hopefully we can win again and make the semi-finals,” he concluded.
Aaron is enthusiastic and ambitious and he is certainly one of Donegal’s most exciting young prospects.