West Cork drivers aiming for Rally of The Lakes glory

April 29th, 2023 8:30 AM

By Martin Walsh

Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy and his Rosscarbery co-driver Eric Calnan (Citroen C3 Rally2) will compete in this weekend’s Rally of the Lakes in Killarney.

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THERE is a wave of anticipation ahead of this weekend’s Assess Ireland Rally of the Lakes in Killarney.

The event marks the mid-point of the Irish Tarmac Championship, which has had three winners in the previous three rounds.

Last year’s event winners, Derry’s Callum Devine and his Killarney co-driver Noel O’Sullivan, are the top seeds. Twelve months ago, they had a thrilling battle with Fermanagh’s Alastair Fisher all through the two days, with the latter sliding his VW Polo GTi R5 off the road on the final stage.

Devine’s victory in the recent Circuit of Ireland Rally was much needed and has brought him right back into the championship equation.

His nemesis, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Hyundai i20 R5), is seeded at number two, followed by Welsh ace Meirion Evans (VW Polo GTi R5) – the trio are covered by a 14-point margin with Moffett on 55 points, Evans 47 and Devine 41. However, given the nature of this year’s championship, the likes of Sam Moffett (Hyundai i20 N Rally2), Robert Barrable (VW Polo GTi R5) and Jonny Greer (Citroen C3 Rally2) should also be in the mix for Killarney success.

Killarney’s Rob Duggan in a hired Melvyn Evans VW Polo GTi R5 is a fascinating entry. Duggan, who has spent the last year in Australia, has an opportunity to create history in the Killarney and District Motor Club event. In last year’s rally, he swept to victory in the modified category, back in 2019 he won the Killarney Historic Rally and in 2021 he won the national category of the Killarney Historic Rally.

The Killarney top ten is completed by Derry’s Desi Henry (Citroen C3 Rally2), Donegal’s Declan Boyle (VW Polo GTi R5) and Rathcoole’s Gareth MacHale (VW Polo GTi R5).


Elsewhere, Killarney’s Alan Ring and his Newcestown co-driver Adrian Deasy will compete in a Melvyn Evans Motorsport-hired VW Polo GTi R5. Their best result in Killarney came in 2015 when they took an S14 Subaru WRC to third overall. Kilnamartyra co-driver JJ Cremin competes with Limerick’s Keith Lyons (Ford Fiesta Rally2).

The modified category should also provide an intense encounter. The main protagonists are Donegal’s Kevin Eves (Toyota Corolla), Cavan’s Gary Kiernan, Killarney’s Conor Murphy and Monaghan’s Daniel McKenna, all in Ford Escorts, Armagh’s Jason Black (Toyota Starlet), Cavan’s Chris Armstrong and Banteer’s Barry Meade, both in Ford Escorts. The latter will be co-driven by Bandon’s Colin Fitzgerald.

Clonakilty’s Cal McCarthy and his Rosscarbery co-driver Eric Calnan compete in the same Citroen C3 Rally2 they campaigned in the recent West Cork Rally – they lead the regional IPS Packaging Southern 4 Rally Championship. Title sponsor, Cappawhite’s Sean O'Carroll and his Rathbarry co-driver Niall O'Sullivan, compete in a Ford Escort Cosworth.

Kilcrohane’s Jer O'Donovan and his Enniskeane co-driver Sean Hayde have their second outing in their new Ford Fiesta R5 while Rosscarbery brothers Jason and Jonathan O'Mahony (Ford Escort) compete in Class 13 along with Donoughmore’s Andy and Shane Horgan (Vauxhall Chevette). Other West Cork interest includes Kealkil’s Eoin Collins, who is co-driver with Killarney’s Bob Moran (Ford Escort Mk2); Ardgehane’s Steve and Aoife Roberts (Ford Escort); Inchigeelagh’s Cyril Casey (Ford Fiesta R2) and Union Hall’s Donal Dineen (Ford Fiesta Rally4).

In the historic category, Rosscarbery co-driver Alistair Wyllie competes with English driver Tom Clark (Ford Escort RS 1800); Ardfield’s Anthony O’Sullivan calls the notes for Philip Rogers (Ford Escort RS1800) and Clondrohid’s Eoghan McCarthy continues his long association with British driver Alan Watkins (Ford Escort). Glounthaune’s Luke McCarthy and his Ballincollig co-driver Brian Duggan (Ford Escort RS 1800) occupy the no. 11 berth.

For Clonakilty’s Darragh O’Donovan and his co-driver Michael White (The Pike), it is an opportunity to ramp up their bid to win the ITRC Junior series. 

Following their runaway victory on the West Cork Rally, they trail series leaders Rylane’s Robbie O’Hanlon and his co-driver Oisín Joyce by ten points, both are in Honda Civics.

Kilcrohane’s Michael O'Donovan makes his rally debut in an Opel Corsa. It will be a busy weekend as he is also part of the TGM team (Tom Gahan Motorsport) that oversee the cars of Josh and Sam Moffett. O’Donovan will be co-driven by Ballydehob’s George Swanton.

There are eight stages on both Saturday and Sunday, Moll’s Gap is the opening stage each day, at 8.33am and 7.54am respectively. Service on Saturday is in Castletownbere and at the Liebherr complex in Fossa on Sunday. The event is due to finish at the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney on Sunday evening at 5.12pm.

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