Michael ‘Bones’ O’Connor’s contribution to Kerry motorsport was acknowledged at County Championship awards night.

Michael ‘Bones’ O’Connor was presented one of the most prestigious trophies in Kerry rally at the County Rally Championship awards night in Keel last Friday night.

All photos by Ted O’Connell

The Caherdaniel man was presented with the Paudie Casey Memorial Trophy which is awarded to the person who has made the biggest contribution to motorsport in the county over the last 12 months.

The winner, as judged by championship organisers after receiving nominations from Kerry Motor Club and Killarney and District Motor Club, is a closely guarded secret until the announcement is made.

‘Bones’ as he is affectionately known, has been involved in motorsport for most of his life.

He was the second-ever Clerk of the Course for the West Cork Rally over 40 years ago.

This year he will celebrate a unique record in Irish Rallying. In July 1983 he became the first Irish driver to contest the World Rally Championship counting Rally of the 1000 Lakes, now known as Rally Finland, in a Toyota Starlet.

In 2022, he volunteered to marshal at over 25 events, often taking on jobs that are well out of the limelight like stage entrance or exit marshal and when the long day is over he will be one of the last to leave as he stays on the help with a litter pick.

“This is the first awards ceremony I have attended this millennium,” said a clearly surprised ‘Bones’, “But it is an honour and a privilege to accept this trophy.”

The Paudie Casey Memorial trophy remembers the later Kerry Motor Club member. A highly respected rally driver, he could also be relied upon to do the thankless volunteering jobs to make sure rallies in County Kerry could get off the ground

World Rally Championship star driver Craig Breen was the guest of honour on the night. He presented many of the wards for both the 2022 championship and the delayed 2021 series.

Last year’s award winners were: Megan Costello (Ladies champion); Jason Farell (junior champion) Fergus O’Meara (historic champion); Bob Moran / Kevin Doherty  (third overall) Alan Ring/Damian Fleming( second overall) and champions Darren Young and Ger Conway.

Award winners for the 2021 series included Alan Ring and Paul Nagle (historic rally champions); Ray O’Neill/ Ger Conway (third overall); Aidan Buckley/ Denny Greany (second overall); and champions Mark Murphy and Shane Buckley.

The Kingdom of Kerry Rally Championship was first run in 2018 and is open to members of both Kerry and Killarney and District Motor Clubs. Since its inception, it has been sponsored by Moriarty’s Centra in Farranfore.

Former proprietor Mike Moriarty retired from the supermarket business in December but will continue to support the championship through his Moriarty’s Central Car Sales operation in the mid-Kerry village.

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