It was a dramatic weekend for Monaghan men on the 2018 Donegal International Rally.
Probably the most popular event of the Irish Rallying calendar, it offers three days
of action over some of the best stages in Ireland. There were a number of Monaghan
men chasing overall and class glory. Conor Foley, James O’Reilly and Enda Sherry
were sitting with expected front runners Donagh Kelly, Declan Boyle & Darren Gass.
But after three gruelling days it was the Moffett brothers, Sam & Josh, who led home
the Monaghan men taking 2nd and 3rd overall.
Friday began with stages in the Letterkenny/Ballybofey area. Last year’s winner Manus
Kelly set a blistering pace on the opening stage before losing time on stage two.
Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley took over the lead but their dreams of a maiden Donegal
win came to end with an accident on stage three. This was a bitter disappointment
for this crew after extensive preparation for the rally.
Manus Kelly had regained the lead at the end of the day with Boyle/O’Reilly just
9.3 seconds behind in 2nd with Gass/Sherry in 3rd just twenty seconds off the lead.
Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson led the R5 crews by six seconds from his brother Josh.
Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly held 5th amongst the R5 crews as they chased Tarmac
In the National Rally, Gary McPhillips/James McNulty held 4th overnight with Jonathan
Pringle/Paul Sheridan in 7th and Vivian Hamill/Andrew Grennan in 13th. Mac Kierans
stood in at the last minute to sit with Motorcyle ace Michael Dunlop and an impressive
opening day left them 19th overall and 2nd in class.
Day two was one of the most dramatic days in the event’s history. As Kelly maintained
the lead, all the drama occurred behind as Boyle/O’Reilly retired with a broken wheel,
Gass/Sherry retired after an off and the hard charging Gary Jennings also crashed.
This elevated Josh Moffett/Andy Hayes into 2nd place and they were now 12.8 seconds
ahead of Sam Moffett/Karl Atkinson in 3rd. Pauric Duffy/Kevin Glynn had made steady
progress to 8th overall whilst Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly joined the growing
retirement list. Gary McPhillips’ charge came to an end on Saturday afternoon but
his old navigator Paul Sheridan had guided Jonathan Pringle up to 4th in the National
The final day featured the classic Fanad Head, Atlantic Drive and Glen stages. Kelly/Barrett
cruised to the win whilst a final day charge saw Sam Moffett take 2nd place and top
championship points. 3rd overall went to Josh Moffett who now trails Sam by one point
in the driver’s championship with two rounds to go. Pauric Duffy/Kevin Glynn finished
9th overall. Shane Maguire/Darragh Kelly took 12th overall and 3rd in class. Colin
Quirk/Kaine Treanor finished 15th overall.
Pringle/Sheridan retired on the Glen stage so the first Monaghan crew home in the
National Rally was Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan in 18th overall and 1st in class 20.
Gerard McQuaid/Gary Quinlan took 46th overall after resorting to Rally 2. Damien
McKenna guided Shaun Murphy to 51st overall again finishing under Rally 2 rules.
The list of Monaghan retirements was exceptional with Donagh Kelly/Conor Foley, Declan
Boyle/James O’Reilly, Darren Gass/Enda Sherry, Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly, Gary
McPhillips/James McNulty, Vivian Hamill/Andrew Grennan, John O’Donnell/Arthur Kierans,
Johno Doogan/Ciaran Marron, Richard Moffett/Martin Connolly, John McQuaid/Thomas
Treanor, David Moffett/Karl Egan, Michael Dunlop/Mac Kierans, James McCarville/Paddy
McCrudden and Gerard McGivney/Gavin McGivney all failing to make it back to Letterkenny.
Brendan McAree/Niall Kelly won their class in the Historic Rally while Jack McKenna
guided Jason Black to victory in the Junior class which contested the six Sunday
stages. This was after a brilliant battle with Jordan Hone/Aileen Kelly who they
edged out by just 1.9 seconds.
Monaghan Men Make Podium in Portlaoise
The Heartlands Mini Stages Rally took place a fortnight ago. Paul Sheridan teamed
up with Cavan’s Jonathan Pringle as a warm-up for the Donegal International. They
ended up taking the overall win narrowly holding off Enda O’Brien/John Butler by
4.1 seconds. Mac Kierans guided Alan Smyth to 3rd overall in their Lancer.
McCarville takes class in Limerick
James McCarville/Emmet Sherry took class 11R honours on the recent Circuit of Munster
Rally. They also finished 15th overall after overcoming the stern challenge of Paul
Fitzgerald. Paul Kelly guided Gary Reidy to 13th overall and 2nd in class.