Sligo Pallets Championship 2012 review

Posted: November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

Arthur & Mac Kierans have created history by becoming the first crew to win successive overall titles in the Border Rally Championship. The Monaghan father and son team have been the dominant force in class 12 for the past two years. This year, three class wins and one 2nd place finish proved enough for them to retain the title.


The Sligo Pallets-sponsored Championship was well supported at each round once again, demonstrating its position as the leading clubman championship in the country. No fewer than 10 competitors were still in contention for overall honours entering the final round of the series in Donegal, indicating the competitiveness that the unique class-based structure brings to the championship. Despite late problems, Arthur and Mac successfully retained the title with a 2nd place finish in class 12 in Donegal just one second behind the winners. The Monaghan pair were pushed all the way as Class 9 frontrunner Barry McGill, was always in close contention and finished as the 2nd overall driver after a strong run of results in his class. Paddy McCrudden finished as 2nd overall navigator after a consistent season in class 2 with his driver, Adrian Cannon. Pakie Duffy’s consistency in class 3 paid off as he finished 3rd overall driver, whilst Championship sponsor Andrew Mullen finished 1st in class 4 and navigator Elaine Doherty was the 3rd overall navigator.


The year was also tinged with sadness following the deaths of Joe Lane and Caroline Cleary while spectating at the Cavan Stages Rally. The event was immediately cancelled as a mark of respect to the deceased, the injured and their families. Both Joe and Caroline were well known and respected within the rallying community and they are greatly missed.


The battles for class honours were intense throughout the year with the majority of classes only decided on the final round.


Class 2:           1st Driver        Adrian Cannon         1st Navigator  Dean O’Sullivan


Adrian Cannon/Paddy McCrudden made a statement of intent by taking class honours in Mayo as they took a start to finish victory from Pauric McGee/Dean O’Sullivan. Both were driving Honda Civics. Cannon/McCrudden continued their winnings way on Round 2 in Monaghan but they were pushed all the way by Stephen Bradley/Graham Henderson.  In Sligo, they had to settle for 2nd place as Pauric McGee/Dean O’Sullivan edged them out by just 5 seconds. David Kelleher/Noel O’Donnell took a handsome win on a one-off outing in Donegal. In the Championship, it was Adrian Cannon who secured the class 2 win, while navigator Paddy McCrudden finished 2nd overall navigator. This promoted Dean O’Sullivan to 1st navigator in the class.


Class 3:           1st Driver        Johnny Leonard        1st Navigator  Dermot McCafferty


Dara Leonard/Matthew McKenna took victory in class 3 in Mayo in their Ford Fiesta ST. In Monaghan, Donegal’s Mark Ewing/Rachel McConnan came out on top after a close battle with Pakie Duffy/Micheal Reilly. However, Duffy/Reilly got their revenge by emerging victorious in Sligo. In Donegal, Declan Leonard/Dermot McCafferty flew through to class honours from the similar Fiesta of Darragh Kelly/Gerry Hughes. With Pakie Duffy moving up to 3rd overall, Johnny Leonard had just enough points to top the driver’s standings while Dermot McCafferty’s top placing in Donegal earned him the top navigator’s position.


Class 4:           1st Driver        Andrew Mullen         1st Navigator  Martin McGarritty


Championship sponsors Andrew Mullen & Elaine Doherty had an excellent year taking two top three overall finishes as well as some other useful results which proved enough for Andrew to top the Drivers in class 4, while Elaine was 3rd overall navigator. Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan took the class win in Mayo before moving up to class 8 from Monaghan on. Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly took class honours in Monaghan from Shane Maguire/Martin McGarritty. Andrew Mullen/Elaine Doherty were top of the pile in Newry, while Maguire/McGarritty took not only the class win in Sligo but also first overall after a titanic battle with Trevor & Kenny Bustard. Local men Martin Doherty/Damien McCauley secured class victory in Donegal from Strabane’s Pat Kirk/Peter Ward. Despite a non-finish in Donegal, Martin McGarritty had enough points in the bag to finish as the top class 4 navigator.


Class 6:           1st Driver        Liam Branley             1st Navigator  Samantha Branley


Regular Border campaigners, Liam & Samantha Branley claimed victory in class 6 thanks to an excellent finishing record. Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney opened the season with back to back class wins in Mayo & Monaghan, before moving up to class 7. Ian Henry/Colin Goulden won the class in Sligo but the Branley’s 2nd place all but secured the class for them in the championship. Steve Wood/Johnny Baird claimed class honours in Donegal, but no one was happier than Border class 6 champions Liam & Samantha Branley who had done enough to clinch the class title.


Class 7:           1st Driver        Roger Kennedy         1st Navigator  Wendy Blackledge


Roger Kennedy put another Border class trophy on the mantelpiece as he and regular navigator Wendy Blackledge triumphed in class 7. A couple of class winners at the beginning of the year put them on course for Championship success. Despite a non-finish in Sligo, a 2nd place in Donegal secured them the title. John Duffy/John Egan and Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney also took class 7 wins in Sligo & Donegal respectively.


Class 9:           1st Driver        Justin Smyth              1st Navigator  Gregory McQuillan


One of the biggest battles of the year was in class 9 between Justin Smyth/Gregory McQuillan and Barry McGill/Derek Heena. Barry & Derek came out on top in Mayo after a daylong battle and along with stand-in navigator Paul Clarke, McGill made it two wins from two rounds in Monaghan. Smyth/McQuillan got their revenge with a dominant class win in Sligo. A 3rd place class finish in Donegal was enough for them to secure class honours, while Barry McGill moved up to finish 2nd overall in the driver’s section.


Class 10:         1st Driver        Patrick Kiernan        1st Navigator  Darren O’Brien


There was plenty of excitement in class 10 too, as Cavan newcomers Patrick Kiernan/Darren O’Brien emerged as the class 10 champions. Michael Carbin/Evin Hughes took the class win in Mayo from Martin Ewing/James Ewing in a similar Peugeot 205. In Monaghan, Kiernan/O’Brien opened their account with victory from the previous year’s Border runners-up, Aaron McQuaid/Aiden Coyle. Martin & James Ewing profited from an early off road excursion for Kiernan/O’Brien to take a home class win in Sligo. Kiernan/O’Brien wrapped up the championship with another class win in Donegal from the hard charging Barry Treanor/Colm Connolly after the Ewings retired.


Class 11:         1st Driver        Seamus Connolly       1st Navigator  Gary McCrudden


Monaghan duo Seamus Connolly/Gary McCrudden secured the class 11 title. Starting off in Mayo, Anthony Hand & Emmet Sherry took the class 11 win but that would be their only outing of the year. In Monaghan, Johno Doogan & Padraig Doogan won the class despite numerous problems. By Sligo, Seamus Connolly/Gary McCrudden had moved into the class lead in the series after a fine class win. Despite a problematic run in Donegal, they had done enough to clinch the class 11 title. Dessie Keenan/James McCarville, on a one-off appearance, were the dominant class 11 winners on the day.


Class 12:         1st Driver        Hugh McQuaid          1st Navigator  Chris Melly


Arthur & Mac Kierans dominated class 12 en route to their overall championship success. Behind them, Hugh McQuaid/Chris Melly were promoted to class winners after a consistent year, with 3rd in class in Monaghan being their best result. Arthur & Mac Kierans took class honours in Mayo, Monaghan and Sligo, but Enda Haran/Patrick Corcoran snatched the class 12 win in Donegal by just 1 second after late problems hit the Monaghan pair. This crew had previously finished 2nd in class in Sligo and could emerge as real challengers to the Kierans’s next year.


Class 13:         1st Driver        Daniel Conaghan      1st Navigator  Terence McGee


Regular border competitors, Daniel Conaghan & Terence McGee secured victory in the ultra-competitve class 13. The importance of consistent finishing was once again evident, as despite not winning the class on any round, their results were still sufficient to take the class in the championship. Jonathan Pringle/Martin Byrne took victory in Mayo, before Kieran McCarra/Colm Murphy took victory in Monaghan after setting some amazing stage times. Alaister Cochrane/Johnny Carleston took the class win in Sligo from Conaghan/McGee before Declan Gallagher/Ronan Murrin rounded off the year with the class win in their home round of Donegal.


Class 15:         1st Driver        David Leonard         


Sligo’s David Leonard was the Class 15 winner in his Mitsubishi Lancer despite a troubled year with retirements in Mayo & Sligo and a problematic run in Monaghan. Roy White/James O’Brien won the class in Mayo, Jim Sharp/Stephen Hagan won in Monaghan and William Vance/Bob Vance were victorious in Donegal.


The success of the 2012 Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship with over 150 competitors registering this year continues to highlight the popularity of the championship as it grows from strength to strength. The 2013 Championship will consist of five events in Mayo, Monaghan, Cavan, Sligo and Donegal with competitors counting their best four scores. Can the Kierans’s complete a hat trick or will we have first time winners of the Border Rally Championship in 2013?


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