Sam Moffett claimed his third Monaghan Stages Rally win after a start to finish victory
on the Four Seasons Hotel-backed event in his Focus WRC. Ably guided by the experienced
Karl Atkinson, Moffett took the lead on stage one and never looked back coming home
26 seconds clear of the similar Focus of Donagh Kelly & Conor Foley. Donegal’s Declan
& Brian Boyle completed the podium places in another Focus. This was Sam’s third
win in a row in the 2017 Triton National Rally Championship, putting him in a commanding
position in the series.
There was a little rain in the air as competitors left the Four Seasons Hotel for
the opening 14.9km Stranooden test. Moffett/Atkinson immediately set the pace, stunning
the opposition with a time 8.3 seconds quicker than anyone else. Declan & Brian Boyle
slotted into 2nd with Donagh Kelly a further second in arrears. Sam again set the
pace on stages 2 and 3 and arrived at first service with a 21.5 second lead over
Kelly/Foley. Declan Boyle was in 3rd despite reporting to be down on power with Stephen
Wright/Arthur Kierans getting the best out of their R5 Fiesta to hold 4th. There
was major disappointment for last year’s winner Josh Moffett who crashed out on stage
two. Luckily there was no major injury to either Josh or co-driver Stephen Thornton.
Brendan Cumiskey/Ronan O’Kane were another early retirement on stage 1 after hitting
a chicane. Gary Kiernan/Ryan Moore led the modified crews from Jonathan Pringle/Paul
Sheridan who was competing for the first time in eight months. Gary McPhillips/James
McNulty dropped out on stage two with a broken half-shaft while Brian Brogan/Damien
McGettigan didn’t even make stage 1 with a gearbox issue. David Guest led Group N
by less than a second from Shane Maguire. Conditions brightened somewhat for the second
loop before the clouds closed in as competitors made their way through stage six.
Moffett was fastest again on stage four before Kelly set fastest times on stages
5 and 6 but trailed by 24.4 seconds at service. Boyle was still just 6.1 seconds
further back in 3rd. Niall Maguire/Enda Sherry had climbed to 4th ahead of Wright/Kierans
in 5th. Reigning National Champions Roy White/James O’Brien were in 6th in their
Fiesta despite an intercom issue on stage five. Gary Kiernan was sidelined with an
oil leak which allowed Pringle/Sheridan to hit the front of the modified field. Damien
Gallagher/Mac Walsh from Donegal were pushing him hard just 7.2 seconds behind with
Damien Toner/Denver Rafferty in 3rd place. It couldn’t be closer in Group N as Guest/Robinson
and Maguire/Kelly were tied on time with three stages remaining. As the weather closed
in on the final loop Moffett/Atkinson kept their cool to cement a solid victory.
In the end they were 26.8 seconds clear and got an additional bonus point for fastest
time on the final stage. Kelly/Foley were 2nd in their Focus but couldn’t match the
pace of Moffett during the day. The Boyle’s came home 3rd and secured some useful
championship points. Maguire/Sherry pipped Wright/Kierans to 4th place on the final
test by just 0.9 of a second. Roy White/James O’Brien came home 6th with Jonathan
Pringle/Paul Sheridan taking modified honours in 7th. Damien Gallagher/Mac Walsh,
Damien Toner/Denver Rafferty and Raymond Conlon/Darren McCague in a hired Escort
completed the top 10. Shane Maguire/Darragh Kelly snatched the Group N win and 11th
overall overhauling the Cork/Donegal team of David Guest/Paddy Robinson on the final
stage. Neil & Gerard Tohill were a distant 3rd in Group N.
Local Crews Successful Andrew Grennan guided Vivian Hamill to 12th overall in their
Escort. David Moffett/Martin Connolly took class 13 honour sand 16th overall after
a day long battle with Michael Conlon/Ciaran McPhillips who were 17th and 2nd in
class 13. David’s father Maurice Moffett & Jason McKenna came home 19th overall.
Anthony Hand/Peter Deery finished 21st overall and 2nd in class 11R. Carrickmacross
pair Johno Doogan/Ciaran Marron finished 23rd overall. Emmet Sherry guided Tommy
O’Connell to 29th overall. Martin McPhillips/Ciaran Tynan took 31st overall and 3rd
in class 11R. Kaine Treanor navigated Jason Roche to 32nd overall with reigning club
champion Martin Tynan and his cousin Declan 35th overall and 1st in class 15. Class
10 was one of the most exciting on the day with four crews nose to tail throughout.
Mickey & Ryan Brennan came out on top by just 4.5 seconds taking 46th overall to
boot. John & Niall Kelly had to settle for 2nd with Cathal Sheridan/Shane Farrell
3rd in their Nova.
David Smyth/Carmel Tuite came home 58th overall with Gerard McGivney/Ciaran McGorman
just behind. Wayne Feeley/Peter Farrell were 61st with Gary McPhillips/James McNulty
in 73rd after finishing the event under Rally 2 rules. Brendan Keenan/Sean Lynch,
Donal Crossan/Paul Lennon, Christopher Brennan/Martin Hughes, Damien Treanor/David
Treanor, Gerard Corey/Kevin Treanor and Cian Curley/Emmet McCooey completed the list
of Monaghan finishers.
The following Monaghan crews failed to make the finish. Josh Moffett/Stephen Thornton,
Brendan Cumiskey/Ronan O’Kane, Michael Carbin/Conor Mohan, Jim McKenna/Damien McKenna,
Seamus Connolly/Gary McCrudden, James McCarville/Paddy McCrudden, Gary Cassidy/Paul
Kelly, Shane Cassidy/Calum Maguire, Paddy O’Reilly/David Fitzsimons, Sean McCaul/Frank
Clerkin, Pakie Duffy/Evin Hughes, Mark Deery/Nigel Brennan, Conor Hagan/Darren McCaffrey,
Jonathan Treanor/Adrian Foley & Jason Black/Jack McKenna.
At the well-attended prizegiving in the Four Seasons Hotel on Sunday evening, Clerk
of the Course Thomas Treanor thanked all who helped make the event such a success.
He thanked the residents along the route for their welcome, co-operation and support.
Over 200 marshals lined the rally route during the course of the day and they received
a special word of thanks, a well as the Civil Defence personnel who worked long hours
during the event.
He had special mention for Monaghan County Council and Monaghan Municipal District
who have helped the club to promote and facilitate the rally, which continues to
grow in stature. He thanked An Garda Siochana for their help and assistance over
the course of the weekend. Their presence was very evident in ensuring that traffic
continued to flow despite the heavy volume.
Sean McCaffrey received special mention for his live broadcasts throughout the day,
which can still be accessed on the Monaghan Motor Club Facebook page. There was a
final word of thanks to Frank McKenna and his team at the Four Seasons Hotel for
their support. Once again thanks to all involved, the Monaghan Stages Rally was another