Monaghan for SAM

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Perhaps this headline is not one normally associated with motor sport but never before has it been more relevant. On Sunday last, Sam Moffett and James O’Reilly took an outstanding win on the 2013 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally. Sam and James drove a faultless event to take the win by a minute from Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry with Daragh O’Riordan and Tony McDaid in 3rd in a WRC focus. English crew James Belton and Mark Glennerster were 4th overall in an S11 subaru with Roy White and James O’Brien 5th in the MG 2R Rover.

            This win for Moffett/O’Reilly only scratches the surface of what was to be an eventful weekend for the Monaghan duo. On Friday evening while testing his EVO9, the engine malfunctioned and was sure to put an end to the Monaghan duo’s hopes of a run on their home event. Not to be phased, Sam lifted the phone and hired the Mc Kinstry Motor sport S14 Subaru. Sounds simple but given the fact that Sam had never driven a WRC spec car before and with added difficulties of left hand drive, paddle shift etc. the ex-Billy Coleman award winner quickly adapted to his new mount through the opening loop of three stages. Sam and James took over the rally lead on stage 5 following the demise of the Boyle cousins from Donegal, and never looked back to go one place better than last year and lift the 2013 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally Trophy in the Combilift backed S14 Subaru. Niall Maguire and Enda Sherry had a measured drive on their home event and a good result of 2nd overall promotes them to joint leaders of the Dunlop National Championship along with the Boyle cousins.

            The group N production class in which Sam and James would normally be front runners was a close affair all day with Sam’s younger brother Josh in a close battle with Donegal men Martin Doherty and James McCauley throughout the day. Unfortunately Josh with John Rowan on the notes had to settle for 2nd on this occasion to the Donegal men but still a superb drive and 7th overall to boot. Some would say Martin and Declan Tynan were unlikely candidates for 3rd in the group N production class but considering this was Martins first real finish in his EVO8 after some engine problems the Clones pairing dealt with the conditions well and set some good times to take 3rd group N.  

            To say that the 2013 Monaghan Stages Rally was a finishers event would be a grave understatement with 80 finishers from 141 starters. Indeed it seemed to be the more high profile competitors that succumbed to the tricky weather conditions. Tyre choice was a lottery with the opening three stages dry when it seemed they would be wet and then the middle three stages witnessed same torrential rain with most crews on dry or intermediate tyres. In the WRC class, Darren Gass and Donagh Kelly both failed to finish whilst in the group N category, Steven Wright and Shane Maguire both retired their EVO 9’s with engine and gearbox issues as did Eugene Meegan and Jonathan Treanor with transfer box woes. 

            Class 14 which is the top end two wheel drive modified class is what brings most spectators to the Monaghan ditches but not one finisher from ten starters gives a good indication as to the difficulties faced through the North Monaghan Stages. Last years winner, Daniel McKenna was seeded at 1 but retired at the last junction of the second stage having gained suspension damage on a  mucky section leading up to the junction. Gary McPhillips and Mark Tierney rapidly moved up the leaderboard throughout the day and were 5th overall before their retirement with alternator failure. Frank Kelly retired his escort on the final stage when he got stuck in a field. The darrien of James Stafford also failed to finish as did Rodney Wilton, Jim McKenna, Mick Curran, Raymond Drury to name but a few in class 14.

            Class 13 was a much closer affair with the Starlet of Richard Moffett and Martin Connolly out of the blocks the quickest and incredibly up to 8th overall and first two wheel drive after the opening loop of three. Richard enjoyed a great battle with the similar starlet of Declan Gallagher from Donegal but disaster was to strike on the fourth stage as torrential rain and a failed window screen heater saw Richard screen mist up and had to drive most of the stage at road car pace and hence dropped 40 odd seconds to Gallagher and ultimately missed out on the class win by 8 seconds. Cavan’s Jonathan Pringle was 3rd class 13 Russell Woods 4th. Raymond Conlon had new suspensions fitted and confessed to them not being set to his liking over the opening stages but played about with them in service and set some good times towards the end of the event in the Fitzpatrick Oils, Clones Shavings and Gribben Plumbing backed class 13 twin cam to finish 16th overall.

            Aghabog’s Arthur and Mac Kierans took yet another class 12 win in the pinto escort but admitted to being under some pressure throughout the day from Enda Haran who retired on the final loop with suspension damage. Brian Armstrong was 2nd class 11 with James Cassidy 3rd. Arthur and Mac also won “the drive of the day award” This win leaves Arthur and Mac joint leaders of the Sligo Pallets Border Championship with Seamus Connolly and Gary McCruddan who were class 11 winners in Monaghan to coincide with their Mayo class win. Martin McPhillips teamed up with brother-in-law Paul Sheridan for the day and enjoyed their run through the mucky Monaghan stages to take a well deserved 2nd in class 11 in the overhauled twin cam, this being Martins first event since last years stages so a good result for the McPhillips Engineering backed team.

            Recent Rally launch organiser John Kelly with brother Niall on the notes had a great run in the white twin cam to claim top honours in class 10. The Monaghan pairing had a comfortable win over Martin Ewing in a 205 with Gary Kiernan in 3rd after a troubled day. John and Niall would like to thank McAree Eng, Mallons Sausages and Jonny Coyle Plant Hire for their support and also to their top service man Malachy.

            Class 9 saw the ultra quick mini of Lloyd Hutchinson take the class spoils. Lloyd admitted that he would be used to have little or no competition in this class but Monaghan was an exception. Justin Smyth and Gregory McQuillan were on his tail throughout the day and ready to take over the reigns should the mini slip up. Unfortunately for the Lisnalong duo the mini screamed its way to the finish and they had to settle for second and 30th overall.

            The top three overall places came from class 8 so that left England’s James Belton taking the class win and 4th overall. Paddy McVeigh was 2nd with the Boyle cousins 3rd after a troubled day which saw them stuck for up to 5 minutes. Tommy Doyle and Liam Moynihan were winners of class 7 in the Clio R3 with veterans Rodger Kennedy and Wendy Blackledge 2nd.

            Class 6 saw the Citroen Ireland trophy competitors added following the demise of the Easter stages due to snow. Armagh’s Sean Agnew with Peter Deery on the notes took a great class 6 win in a C2 and 41st overall. Worth noting here that Peter brother Mark who was navigating for David Smith in a twin cam was 42nd overall and just 0.5 of a second behind at the finish so great sibling rivalry between the Stonebridge men.

            Class 2 was won by Mark Boyle and Sean Gallagher in a civic ahead of Eamon Russell and upcoming Cavan CoC Stephen Kellett also in civics. Francie McKenna and Sean Craig were the only finishers in class 1 in their newly built Rover, having overcome boiling issues earlier in the day.

            Michael Tynan and Derek Mackarel teamed up for their local event and emerged as class 15 winners in the EVO 5. They had to overcome a puncture on the 3rd stage which dropped them almost 6 minutes and Michael reported a few brushes with the scenery but enjoyed their day, this being Derek’s first stages event. Class 20 saw the MG 2R rover of Roy White take class honours ahead of Johnny Leonard and Niall Burns in 2nd with David Leonard and Darragh Mullen 3rd.

            The junior class 16 category was won by Kevin Eves and Adrian Reynolds in a twin cam, ahead of  Richard Moore and Sean Brunton in a civic with Barry and Sean Brady in 3rd. The historic class was won by Stanley Orr in an escort ahead of Berian Richards and Paddy Brennan in 3rd, both in escorts. Unfortunately with every event there has to be somebody last and this years title goes to ex-CoC Conor Maguire and Peter Farrell. To be fair this result does not paint a true picture of the lads day in the immaculate Mark 1 escort as they were stopped on stage 4 a dropped a massive 24 minutes to their rivals. Its evident from the many photo’s and videos available that these lads were trying hard and enjoyed their day, the Mark 1 now bearing the haul marks of their determination.  

            Other hard luck stories throughout the day through the stages which covered the Emyvale, Glaslough and castleshane areas included Kieran “Bilko” McCarra/Mark Hamill retire with a burst radiator, Chris Armstrong off on ss1, Barry Ryan/Emmett Sherry with suspension damage, Paddy Kiernan/James McCarvill off on ss3, Michael Carbin/Evin Hughes with engine blown to name but a few.

            So thats the jist of the 2013 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally. Apologies for not being able to include all competitors in the report and well done to CoC Paul Hughes, his assistants and the stages commanders and all there many helpers who organised and set up the stages. Thanks to the many residents for their co-operation in running this event. To the hundreds of marshal’s who turned up to ensure the safe running of the event. To the Main sponsors, Hillgrove Hotel for their continued support and also to McAree Engineering for donating the start/finish ramp arch which looked very well and will suffice for many a year to come. To everyone else who helped out in any way, big or small for you time and effort. Fair to say the Monaghan Stages Rally is going from strength to strength, year on year which is down to the hard work and dedication of its organisers, this is evident by the large entries of top class competitors and something the county of Monaghan should be proud to host.



Monaghan Motor Club wish to extend their deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the late Patsy Tracey, Emyvale. Patsy was an avid motor sport fan and rarely missed marshalling duties on Monaghan and Cavan Stages. Indeed Patsy was to marshal on this years Monaghan Stages Rally but unfortunately passed away on Sunday morning after a brave battle with illness. 


Upcoming Events

National Navigation prize giving Saturday 27th April in Portlaoise. Kilmore Hotel Cavan Stages Rally Sunday  26th May.



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