Exactly one month before the excitement gets under way in Cavan for the Rally our neighbours in Monaghan blow off the winter blues with their spring fling in the form of the Monaghan Stages Rally. This year would see the 100 plus entry tackle stages to the east of the town with the roads around Clontibret and Ardaghy being the focal point for the event.
As is often the case there was a strong turn out of club members as some of them treat this as a dress rehearsal for the local stages in May. Active club member Arthur Kierans was back on navigation duties for Swann’s Cross resident Stephen Wright in his Fiesta R5 as the pair would look to gain some mileage in their recently rebuilt car ahead of the Killarney Rally of the Lakes on the May bank holiday weekend. Having a good run during the day the pair would end the day 1st in class and 4th overall.
Virginia man Chris Armstrong with Donegal’s Chris Melly on the notes would continue the learning process of their new car as they get to grips with it after a off season of developments. Their reward on the day after a tough day of changeable weather would be 3rd in class 14 and 9th overall keeping impressive company in the top 10. Another club representative making inroads in the big modified class would be Martin Byrne who would be calling the notes for Tyrone man Vivian Hamill as they would slide their way to 5th in class and 12th overall just ahead of Mickey Conlon and Ciaran McPhilips as they would push hard in their class 13 escort to end the day 2nd in class and mixing it with many of the class 14 machinery.
In class 12 James Cassidy would have a good run guided by Roscommon’s Jane Collins to 2nd in the class after a huge battle during the day amongst the Pinto men, they would finish the day just 24 seconds ahead of Jane’s father Vincent after the 9 stages. Gene Mc Donald would once again put in a storming drive in the little 1400 escort which has somehow ended up in the 1600 class, just because Gene loves a challenge! The reward at the end of the day for the little red car that could would be 3rd in class 11R and just 0.9 seconds shy of 2nd in class. Another 9 seconds back in 5th would be Mark Wedlock and Lois Branyan as they would dust off the cobwebs on the baby blue mark 2 for a run around the Monaghan lanes. Paul Crosby would be another man to get back into the swing of things for the new year as he would bring the ex David Moffett Starlet out for a blast ably guided once again by Mayo lady Trisha Greavy, 6th in class would be their reward as they look forward to Cavan in May.
John Mc Cabe would find himself in the navigators seat once more as he would guide Cathal Mulgrew around the roads in his newly acquired mark 2 escort. More used to guiding Jenna McCann in her Fiesta R2 a blast in a powerful Rear wheel drive car would have John reconsidering his next move on the driving front as he may look at the mk2 route for the future. Bailieborough man Paul Clarke made his return to the stages after a bit of a break after the 2017 Cavan Stages. He along with Conor Boylan on the notes would sufficiently knock the rust off with 8th in class 13 and just outside the top 40.
It was a good day for Colm Kearns who along with Monaghan man Mark Deery would take the class 9 win in the little 1300 escort and a place in the top 60 overall. The Toyota Starlet of Gerry and Aaron McIntyre would be next in line taking 11th in class 11R after the 9 stages had run their course. Making a return to the driving seat would be Breen McNamee as he and Alecia Knox would guide their Honda Civic to 7th in class and change of scenery for Breen who would normally navigate for Breacon McBreen in the woods. Taking 2nd in class 9 would be Padraig Doogan and Anthony Smith in their hired out 1400 mk2 escort. A finish for Brian Quigley who had Andrew Wedlock on the notes would be the best the pair could hope for after having to restart under Rally 2, not so fortunate would be cousin Thomas as he and Alan Atcheson would leave the road in their Fiesta and knocking a wheel off after impacting a tree spelled the end of their day.
In the Juniors Anthony Mc Donald with Oisin Sherlock would bring the little Nova home in one piece 11th overall.
Big thanks to all the club members who made the trip to marshal on the Saturday and Sunday in tough conditions and plenty of work to be done.