Monaghan crews stunning success in Donegal Rally 2013

Posted: June 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Major win for Monaghan Crews in Donegal


Sam Moffett and James O’Reilly led a procession of Monaghan crews to victory in their respective classes at the Donegal International Rally last weekend. In what may well go down as a milestone event for the Monaghan club, Sam and James followed up on their overall win on the recent Monaghan stages with a minute and a half to spare over their nearest rivals after 3 days and 20 stages on what is now classed as Irelands biggest rallying event. Setting some fastest stage times along the way, the Combi-lift backed S14 was never outside the top 5 and with consistent stage times quickly moved up the leader board where they found themselves embroiled in a three horse race with Gary Jennings and Darren Gass who had Monaghans Enda Sherry on the notes. Unfortunately for the Armagh/Monaghan based team of Gass and Sherry it was to be unlucky 13 as their event ended on stage 13 with a visit to the Donegal scenery. Sam and James moved into the lead on Sunday morning when Jennings was allotted a three minute road penalty but with six Donegal stages to traverse on Sunday the pressure was on. Thankfully for the Billy Coleman award winner they held their nerve and made it back to the Mount Errigal Hotel in Letterkenny for a historic win for the young Monaghan team.  Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan had a consistent drive to claim 2nd overall whilst Gary Jennings and Neil Doherty picked themselves up after their 3 minute penalty with some great pace through the Sunday stages and climbed back up to 3rd overall, gaining valuable points for their championship campaign.

            The group N production class could be considered a two horse race for most of the weekend as the Newbliss brother and sister team of Stephen and Suzanne Wright were embroiled in a battle with Donegal natives Martin Doherty and Damien McCauley  for most of the Saturday and Sunday stages with no more than 15 seconds separating them at any time. Josh Moffett and John Rowan had also been in contention through the early stages but retired on stage 7 which left Shane Maguire and Martin McGarrity 3rd in group N, a position they never relinquished to the finish for a great result and 10th overall. Back at the front the race was very much alive as Doherty/McCauley traded stage times with the Wrights until stage 17 where Dohertys engine cried enough and the Span Wright EVO 9 coasted home for a memorable victory and 7th overall. Seamus Heron was 2nd in group N, also in an EVO 9.

            Donegal’s Joe McGonigle called on the navigator services of Aghabog youngster Mac Kierans for the weekend and things could not have went any better as they had a superb run in the R3 Clio to an incredible result of 8th overall and class 3 winners. Matthew McKenna teamed up with Dara Leonard once again in the fiesta but their weekend was short lived with retirement on stage 8 whilst lying 2nd in class, only 2 seconds off the lead.

            The National Rally could be considered the crowd puller to Donegal and it certainly never failed to disappoint on this occasion either. Monaghan’s Gary McPhillips and Paul Sheridan laid down the gauntlet on the opening stage, pulling out a 5 second lead over the nearest rivals and good friends Manus Kelly and Donal Barrett. Indeed this was to be the story of the weekend for these leading two wheel drive crews as they traded stage times right up until the last stage. Incredibly over the 20 stages these crews were never any more then 13 seconds apart but unfortunately Kelly/Barretts charge ended on the final stage with an off road excursion and Gary McPhillips and Paul Sheridan went on to take a memorable 1st overall victory on the national stages event.  Gary would like to thank the service crew of Francis and Martin McPhillips and Cathal Sheridan who kept the car going all weekend and also Dessie and Emmet from Keenan Rally Prep for preparing the car in the weeks leading up to the rally. He would also like to thank all his sponsors without whom it would just not have been possible to compete on the event. And finally to Deborah and Jennifer for all that they had to endure over the past two weeks whilst Gary and Paul were preparing and competing.

            Frank Kelly took the now infamous baby blue escort home to 2nd overall in the national event after a consistent run with some near misses, whilst Damian Gallagher was 3rd, also in a class 14 escort. James McCarville took up his usual role as navigator for Cavans Paddy Kiernan in the class 13 escort and they too had a memorable run through the Donegal hills to claim 3rd in class and 7th overall. Rodney Wilton and Conor McMahon finished 3rd in class 14 and 9th overall. Gerard McQuaid and Gareth Quinlan also made the finish in their class 13 escort. Unfortunately John McQuaid/Seamus O Connor failed to finish with retirement on stage 8 whilst lying in 9th overall. Cootehill man Mark Wedlock finished in 40th overall after a testing weekend on the Donegal stages. Results sheets suggest that Seamus Connolly and Gary McCrudden had a troubled weekend on the Donegal stages as they were lying 2nd in class after the opening test but slipped back down the leader board and finally into retirement on stage 16.

            In the junior rally, Maudabawn men Damien O’Reilly and Damien McCabe had a great spin through the Sunday stages to claim 3rd overall, a memorable result following some recent bad luck on their local stages. Ryan and Nicola McKenna gained valuable experience in Donegal and brought their twin cam home to 13th overall.

            So that’s a preview of a highly successful Donegal Stages Rally from a local point of view and with overall winners in both the International and National categories as well as the group N production class, this feat may never be repeated again so well done to all involved.



1 Sam Moffett/James O’Reilly (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 22m 44s,

2 Donagh Kelly/Kevin Flanagan (Ford Focus WRC) 2h 24m 14s,

3 Garry Jennings/Neil Doherty (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 24m 53s,

4 Seamus Leonard/Paul McLaughlin (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 25m 02s,

5 Daragh O’Riordan/Tony McDaid (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h 25m 58s,

6 John O’Donnell/Aidan Friel (Subaru Impreza WRC) 2h 26m 21s,

7 Stephen Wright/Susanne Wright (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 29m 42s,

8 Joe McGonigle/Mac Kierans (Renault Clio R3 Maxi) 2h 34m 22s,

9 Seamus Heron/Gerry McVeigh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 Gp N) 2h 37m 05s,

10 Shane Maguire/Martin McGarrity (Subaru Impreza Gp N) 2h 37m 30s.



1 Stephen Wright/Susanne Wright,

2 Seamus Heron/Gerry McVeigh,

3 Shane Maguire/Martin McGarrity.



1 Gary McPhillips/Paul Sheridan (Ford Escort) 2h 27m 11s,

2 Frank Kelly/Stephen Quinn (Ford Escort) 2h 29m 07s,

3 Damian Gallagher/Mac Walsh (Ford Escort) 2h 29m 34s,

4 Adrian Hetherington/Gary Nolan (Ford Escort) 2h 29m 47s,

5 Daniel Conaghan/Terence Magee (Ford Escort) 2h 31m 16s,

6 Paul Reid/Karl Reid (Ford Escort) 2h 31m 21s.



1 Wesley Patterson/Sean Hayde (Ford Escort) 2h 03m 44s,

2 Seamus O’Connell/Sean Magee (Ford Escort) 2h 05m 02s,

3 Ian Millar/Ronan O’Neill (Ford Escort) 2h 14m 34s.



1 Kevin McLaughlin/Kieran McGinley (Honda Civic) 60m 50s,

2 Jonathan Orr/Martin McBrearty (Honda Civic) 60m 55s,

3 Damian O’Reilly/Damien McCabe (Ford Escort) 61m 23s.


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