MONAGHAN STAGES RALLY

24.04
2012

The roar of car engines filled Tydavnet parish and the surrounding area as Monaghan Motor Club held their annual stages rally. Many minor roads were closed to facilitate the event, but main roads and secondary roads were kept open. However if your house was on the rally route and you don’t like fast cars, you might certainly have felt somewhat inconvenienced as the roads were closed from 9am for nearly ten hours. It can also be a dangerous sport. Ten years ago in the Dunlop rally championship a competitor was killed in a crash near Scotstown and the event was immediately cancelled. During Mass at St Dympna’s Fr Clerkin prayed for the safety of all. The congregation was smaller than usual because of the rally, but most people were able to reach the chapel in time. Safety of drivers and spectators is an important consideration at such events. It was noticeable that the Clerk of the Course and former winner Dessie Keenan from Drumcoo Woods had a team of stewards at all the important viewing points and that spectators were kept a reasonable distance from the cars. There were plenty of thrills and a few spills along the route. The stages were centred on the Milltown and Tydavnet area up towards the border at Drumfurrer. The next section was around Bragan mountain and a third section of stages saw the cars tackle roads around Scotstown, Smithborough and Ballinode, which proved a popular spot to view the rally.

Damage to wall of house at Corrinshigo, Scotstown
When I heard in Knockatallon that one car almost ended up in the kitchen sink at a house, I thought the report might be exaggerated. But on viewing the damage at the scene at Corrinshigo, this is exactly what happened as Strabane driver Aidan Caldwell’s car left the road, hitting a wall and ending up in the yard beside a window! Luckily the occupant of the bungalow was not inside at the time. But she said if it had been a year ago, her sister and her young children might have been outside watching the cars going past. The driver and his navigator also escaped serious injury. But it was a reminder that such events are not without their dangers.
Local drivers inclusing the Moffetts performed well on their home circuit, although three times national rally champion Niall Maguire from Ballinode was forced out with gearbox problems. The rally was won by Daniel McKenna from Scotshouse in an Escort with navigator Andrew Grennan. They were fortunate to finish the event, as they were caught out by a sudden shower of rain on the sixth of nine stages, spinning backwards into a bank and losing half a minute before they could restart. They finished two minutes ahead of Sam Moffett and were presented with their prize at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, which sponsored the event and provided a headquarters for the organisers.

Daniel McKenna, winner 2012 Monaghan stages rally

 

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