This weekend will see the culmination of hard work and planning over the past six months come to fruition for CoC Brendan Flynn and his dedicated team as the chequered flag is lowered for the 2014 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally. Saturday will see all competitors converge on the Hillgrove Hotel to sign-on for recce and each crew is allowed three passes over the loop of three stage to make their pace notes. Then on Saturday evening scrutiny will take place at McElvaney Motor’s where all cars are meticulously checked for safety features. Then at 9.30 pm on Sunday morning last years winners Sam Moffett and James O’Reilly will lead off a bumper entry of 131 cars to tackle the 9 stage event which boasts 140km of stages and just under 60km of road section. 2nd seed is Niall Maguire and Conor Foley followed by midlands stages winners Paddy McVeigh and Gary McElhinney, both crews in subaru WRC’s. 4th seeds are Kevin Barrett and Sean Mullally with Peader Hurson and Damien Connolly rounding off the top 5 in an escort cosworth WRC. Josh Moffett will head the Group N challenge in 6th, followed by a plethora of escort men which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Daniel Mc Kenna and Stephen Hagan return to their home event in the Scanbitz escort and are seeded 7th. Gary McPhillips and Paul Sheridan are next up in 8th with Cavan’s Rodney Wilton and Conor McMahon in 9th. Manus Kelly has James McCarville on the notes and they round off a splendid top 10 with Dessie Keenan and Enda Sherry making a return to the stages in a class 13 escort and seeded in 11th.
Shane Maguire and Martin Mc Garrity are at 12, ahead of Donegal’s Trevor Bustard and John McCafferty. Raymond Conlon and Darren McCague are at 15 in the twin cam with Richard Moffett rounding off the top 15 in his class 13 starlet. Jim Mc Kenna and Thomas Treanor are at 20 in their escort. Incredibly there are 16 entrants into the highly powerful class 14 so the stakes are high. Enda McNulty will have Stephen Thornton on the notes and are at 23 with John McQuaid and Seamus O’Connor returning to the stages after a short lay-off and are sure to be back on the pace, seeded at 25. Michael Carbin and Emmet McCooey will be hopeful that they can continue there goo pace of late in class 20 as they run 27th on the road.
Class 12 will see Justin Smyth and Sharon Clarke head the field at 35, followed by Martin Toner and Martin Swinburne. Class 11R is the biggest of the event with 18 entrants set to battle it out over the South Westerly Monaghan stages. Kevin Eves and Chris Melly head the class 11R brigade in their twin cam, followed by Kevin Bradley and Graham Henderson in an escort. Barry Treanor and Colm Connolly start at 32 with David Moffett and Fintan Sherry at 33. Seamus Connolly and Gary McCrudden should also be in the hunt for class 11R honours as will Martin McPhillips and Ciaran Tynan, seeded at 45 in the McPhillips Engineering backed twin cam. Other locals to feature in class 11R include David Smith and Aidan Coyle at 60 and brother/sister pairing of Ryan and Nicola McKenna. Sean McCaul and Lorcan Kennedy make their long awaited return to the Monaghan stage’s to compete in class 11 also.
Class 10 will be headed by the Kelly brothers, John and Niall seeded at 86. Stephen Rushe and Conor Hagan will also be vying for class 10 honours as will Cathal Sheridan and Evin Hughes in the newly built Nova. David and Aaron Dixon also compete in class 10along with Martin McGuigan (119) and Padraig Connolly (124). Gene McDonald and Kevin Reilly head the class 9 brigade ahead of Laurence Sherry and Mark Sheridan (98) with Aaron Duffy and Thomas Wedlock at (99) Mickey Brennan and John McKenna are at 110 followed by Jonathan Treanor and Adrian Foley at 111.
With a bumper entry and an action packed weekend in store lets hope the weather Gods are looking down favourably for the upcoming weekend. Service area has moved from recent years and is located at the back of the courthouse in the new carpark which is sure to keep the town busy for one of Monaghan’s biggest sporting events of the calendar.
Finally for now the CoC Brendan Flynn would like to wish all involved in this event a happy, safe and enjoyable weekend of motorsport action and no matter whether your, spectating, competing or marshalling always remember that your safety is paramount and please keep the Race in its Place.
Please also respect peoples land and property when out spectating and bring your litter home!
Programmes are widely available throughout Monaghan town and surrounding areas.
Finally best wishes to all competitors and hope to see everyone back at our main sponsors, the Hillgrove Hotel on Sunday night for prize giving at 8pm sharp.