MCKENNA AND GRENNAN WIN MONAGHAN STAGES RALLY

27 April 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

It was a day of high drama on the narrow roads of North Monaghan as Daniel Mc Kenna and Andrew Grennan won the 2012 Hillgrove Hotel Monaghan Stages Rally on Sunday last.
 This was the second counting round of the Sligo Pallets Border Rally Championship which drew a full entry of 131 cars, the first full entry of this years rally calendar. An action packed event that saw only 5 of the top 10 making the finish ramp including non-finishes form all three WRC cars, which started. This event had it all and certainly lived up to its pre-event billing of “Finland on tarmac”. Mc Kenna/Grennan eventually took the rally win from Sam Moffatt and James O’Reilly in their EVO 9 with Maurice Moffatt and Jason McKenna just edged back to third on the final 30km stage in their Starlet.
 But that is only the tip of the iceberg! With only 67 finishers from 131 starters this was most definitely a finisher’s rally as most of those who were lucky enough to cross the finish ramp had their own good luck stories to tell. CoC Dessie Keenan and his team provided three action packed stages, which had it all. Stage 1 was a fast flowing stage with many flat crests on open roads. The first half of stage 2 ran through the famous Bragan mountain and then descended down towards Scotstown finishing with the infamous tight and twisty Aghnameena lane. Stage 3 simply had all the ingredients of the perfect stage, narrow sections to start with, straddling the border along Roslea, then opening out to fast flowing sections towards Bellanode village. The spectacle of two flat crest/jumps then up to a chicane and a hair pin right has to be the talking point of the rally as thousands of spectators descended on this usually quiet north Monaghan village. One could be forgiven for thinking they were actually in Finland such was the commitment of all drivers over these jumps, much to the delight of onlookers.
 Top seeds for the event were indeed local Bellanode man Niall Maguire and his regular navigator, Enda Sherry. They had led the event up until stage 7 when their gearbox packed it in while holding a one-minute lead. Earlier in the day number 2 seeds Seamus Leonard retired his Subaru WRC on ss1 while Donagh Kelly and Kevin Flanagan slid their newly acquired WRC impreza off the road on ss3. These miss-haps only meant one thing, a titanic battle to the end between two of Irelands top escort men and locals, Daniel McKenna/Andrew Grennan and Gary McPhillips/Mark Tierney. By Gary’s own admission they were caught sleeping on the opening loop, dropping 32 seconds to Mc Kenna after three stages. Not to be outdone Gary and Mark put the “shoulder to the wheel” on the middle loop, recording fastest times on all three stages over McKenna. Indeed on ss6 running water after heavy rainfall made conditions treacherous and Daniel/Andrew nearly threw it all away with a big overshoot on the hairpin at Greenfield eggs, which resulted in…

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