Stonethrowers Rally – Kerry crews round up

Milltown co-driver Ger Conway guided Gareth MacHale to his best result in his comeback season on Sunday’s Stonethrowers Rally in Clonmel.

Dubliner, MacHale, a former World Rally Championship driver, has not competed full-time in the sport since 2009.

Gareth MacHale (right) and co-driver Ger Conway, second overall in the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally, round six of the Triton Showers-backed Motorsport Ireland National Rally Championship. Photo: Martin Walsh.

He made a return to the sport in June this year but struggled to get on the pace of his rivals on events in Tyrone, Limerick and Donegal.

That changed on Sunday when he worked with Conway for the first time. Conway is best known for his work alongside Rob Duggan including winning the modified sections of the most-recent Rally of the Lakes and Killarney Historic Rally.

Conway and MacHale finished second overall in Tipperary in their Volkswagen Polo RC2.

“When we discussed it before the start, Gareth said he would be happy with a top five result once his stage times were good,” explained Conway.

Despite having to change a puncture at the start line of the final stage, the set equal-fastest time, to secure second place overall.

More outings with MacHale are on the cards for Conway but they will depend on his work commitments.

London-based Rockfield co-driver Shane Buckley and his West Cork driver Shane Buckley were in the mix too. They were second after the opening loop of three stages but clipped a wall of a bridge on stage five. The incident broke a track control arm and put them out of the rally.

Vincent O’Shea was the best of the Kerry drivers at the event, bringing his Darrian T90 home in 13th place.

Denis Hickey and Sean Nolan were the best all-Kerry crew, they finished 18th in their Ford Escort, one of their best results to date.

Raymond O’Neill and his Cork co-driver Padraig O’Donovan were second in Class 12 in their Ford Escort. Former Kingdom of Kerry Rally champion Sean Hickey and Noel Fleming were fourth in the same class in a Toyota Starlet.

Brisbane-based Killarney man Billy McCarthy was home for a friend’s wedding and decided to enter a rally as a part of his holiday. He and his co-driver John Falvey were second in Class 9 in a Nissan Micra.

Glenflesk’s Bob Moran and his Cork co-driver Eoin Collins re-modelled the front of their Escort on a stage one wall but they persevered to finish fourth in their class.

Niall Myers, alongside Kilkenny driver Kevin Brennan were fifth in class 11r in their Toyota Corolla.

Gearóid O’Regan and Brian Martin took Kerry/Galway rivalry to a new level. The Ballyheuige man was without a co-driver until a few days before the event. His Galway debutant, Kirwin, guided him to third in Class 3 in their Honda Civic.

Milltown’s Amy Burke made her driving debut in Clonmel.  A newcomer to the sport, before Sunday she competed as a co-driver but hired a car for the Clonmel-based event. The bug has bitten.

“We have placed an entry for the Cork ‘20’ at the end of the month,” she said after she and co-driver Damian Sheridan finished sixth in class.Gary Healy and Gearoid Moynihan narrowly missed out on Junior Rally success. Just 3.4 seconds separated the Clonkeen-based Honda Civic crew from event winners Joe Browne and Jack Shealy.

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