Kelly & Foley Retain Monaghan Crown

Posted: April 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

Donagh Kelly & Conor Foley have won the 2019 Four Seasons Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally. The Donegal/Monaghan pairing made it back to back wins in Monaghan and as in 2018, they came from behind to do so. After nine stages, the winning duo held off Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes by just 5.7 seconds to take their second Monaghan win. Moffett had been the early pacesetter but a stage six puncture would ultimately cost him the event despite a brave comeback on the final loop. National Championship perennials Roy White/James O’Brien secured 3rd place in their Fiesta a further 27 seconds behind.

Despite the overcast morning, huge crowds lined the route as the crews prepared for the opening stage at Hollywood. Tyre choice was critical as the stage conditions were constantly changing. Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes stopped the clocks with a fastest time, 3.8 seconds up on Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley. The latter were reacclimatising to their Ford Focus WRC which they last drove on the 2018 Donegal International. Roy White slotted into an early 3rd place while Sam Moffett/James Fulton were pushing their R5 Fiesta to the maximum to hold 4th while Declan & Brian Boyle were getting up to speed after a big off on last weekend’s Easter Stages.

Moffett/Hayes continued to set the pace, particularly on the technical third stage where they took 10 seconds off Kelly, even though he felt his tyres going off. Kelly/Foley were a solid 2nd with White/O’Brien 6 seconds further back. Boyle had leapfrogged Moffett for 4th with the top six completed by Darren Gass & Enda Sherry in their R5 Fiesta. Peadar Hurson/Damien Connolly were 7th despite an overshoot and a poor tyre choice while Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney complained of a misfire.

Kevin Eves/Chris Melly from Donegal were setting the two wheel drive pace in their Toyota Corolla. Class 13 competitors David Moffett/Martin Connolly and Raymond Conlon/Damien Fleming were in close contention followed by another Donegal crew of JF Shovelin/Emmet Brosnan. In Group N, Shane Maguire/Anthony Nestor led after the first stage retirement of chief rivals Michael Boyle/Dermot McCafferty.

Moffett and Kelly exchanged seconds on stage four and five but the event would be turned on its head when Moffett punctured on stage six. Josh was disconsolate as he was at odds to explain how he got the puncture. He now trailed Kelly by 15 seconds with three stages to go. White was now just 0.2 seconds behind in 3rd place and was trouble free. Boyle, Moffett and Gass maintained positions. Hurson dropped out of the top 10 after a spin and the lack of a reverse gear cost several minutes. Eves and Maguire maintained their category leads.

On the final loop, Moffett put in a storming drive and reduced the deficit to 5.3 seconds going into the final stage. Kelly put the foot down on the final 16km test and bested Moffett by 0.4 of a second to secure the win by 5.7 seconds. White finished a trouble free third with Boyle, Sam Moffett and Gass rounding off the top six. McGonigle claimed 7th in his Mini with Eves a fine 8th continuing his National dominance of the two wheel drive category. The local team of Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan were the first all-Monaghan crew home in 9th place in their Lancer with Hurson/Connolly recovering to 10th place.

Shane Maguire/Anthony Nestor took another home win in Group N despite a day long misfire. Wexford’s Thomas O’Rourke was their nearest challenger. The junior category was won by Jack Brunton/Darragh Kelly with Aaron & Ben McIntyre from Cootehill winning the Junior Cup.

As always, the Monaghan Stages Rally attracted a capacity local entry who tasted various successes throughout the various classes. Craig McPhillips/Anthony McDonald made their stages debut and finished 3rd in class 1. Pakie Duffy/Evin Hughes tasted success in class 3 in their Civic. Patrick Fitzpatrick/James McEneaney finished 3rd in the competitive class 9. Mark Sheridan guided Brendan O’Reilly to 4th in the same class with Stefan McCann/Marco Lennon 8th in class 9.

Mickey Brennan/Paddy McCague took victory in class 10 from John & Niall Kelly. Padraig Connolly/Padraig Corrigan, Ryan Treanor/Robert Graham and Peter Farrell/Shane Farrell filled places 4th to 6th in class. Martin McPhillips/Ciaran Tynan took victory in class 11R after a fantastic battle with Mark Wedlock, who they edged out by just 0.8 seconds for the class win. Jack McKenna made his driving debut with the experienced Emmet Sherry navigating. They took 4th in class 11R. Seamus Connolly/Gary McCrudden finished back in 6th class after problems with Gary McKenna/Calum Maguire just behind.

Gregory McQuillan guided Justin Smyth to 3rd in class 12. Sean McCaul/Frank Clerkin were 10th in class with Kevin Treanor guiding Patrick Corey to 11th in class. David Moffett/Martin Connolly were victorious in class 13 and 2nd two wheel drive car home. Gary Cassidy/Paul Kelly finished 3rd in class on their home rally. Barry McKenna/Darren O’Brien were 9th in class 13.

Michael Conlon/Ciaran McPhillips finished 4th in class 14. Declan McKenna guided Bryan Jardine to 9th in class with Paddy O’Reilly/Rodney Hughes in 10th. Brendan McAree/James Hendry won class 19 in their Porsche.

Many crews fell foul of the changing conditions or mechanical woes. These included Stephen Wright/Stephen Thornton, Raymond Conlon/Damien Fleming, Johno Doogan/Ciaran Marron, Martin Swinburne/Gretchen Fegan, Jack Maguire/Keith McConnon, Vincent McAree/David McCrudden, Martin Tynan/Declan Tynan, Derek Mackarel/Conor Boylan and Patrick Connolly/Dylan Lennon,

At the Gala Prizegiving, COC Eoghan Corr thanked Frank McKenna and his team at the Four Seasons Hotel for hosting the event which was once again a tremendous success. The event was well received by competitors who praised the stages and organisation of the event. Eoghan extended thanks to Monaghan County Council, Monaghan Municipal District, An Garda Siochana and the Civil Defence personnel for their valuable assistance. A special word of thanks goes to the residents along the route for their welcome, co-operation and support. The rally also would not have run without the work of over 200 volunteers and marshals, to whom the organisers are most grateful.

Results:

1st Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley (Focus WRC) 1h.05m.002s

2nd Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes (Fiesta WRC) 1h.05m.05.9s

3rd Roy White/James O’Brien (Fiesta WRC) 1h.05m.33.0s

4th Declan Boyle/Brian Boyle (Fiesta WRC) 1h.05.44.8s

5th Sam Moffett/James Fulton (Fiesta R5) 1h.06m.12.4s

6th Darren Gass/Enda Sherry (Skoda Fabia R5) 1h.07m.19.0s

7th Joe McGonigle/Ciaran Geaney (Mini WRC) 1h.08m.39.6s

8th Kevin Eves/Chris Melly (Toyota Corolla) 1h.08.52.7s

9th Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan (Lancer) 1h.09m.36.6s

10th Peader Hurson/Damien Connolly (Fiesta WRC) 1h.09m.39.6s

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