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DD Motoring: Stay at home heroes

first_imgCharlie never for one moment questioned his father’s ability as he stood in a full forward position in front of his family on Sunday evening at the finishing ramp at what was once the old Ballyraine Hotel. He held his hands out in front of him as he watched the droplets of champagne land on his fingers.He was in the moment and his image just summed it up for me what the Donegal rally is all about. Advertisement Charlie Kelly takes it all in as he lives in the moment and celebrates his father, Manus Kelly’s win on the Donegal at the weekend Photo Brian McDaidMoments before that I captured another young Donegal supporter standing waiting patiently at the finishing ramp for the cars to come home. His Donegal GAA shirt had his father’s company’s name, MCR Group on the back and on the front of it was the name of his father’s rival for the weekend of the rally KN group. Both Donall Barrett and Donagh Kelly rally in a different way when it comes to sponsorship of our county GAA team, Donegal.Jack Barrett waiting for his dad Donall to arrive home on Sunday evening. Photo Brian McDaidCharlie Kelly lives in Glenswilly and is, of course the son of Manus Kelly and young Jack Barrett lives in Dublin and is the son of Milford native, Donall Barrett. These two young lads summed it up for me what belief is all about. As we get older we loss this clear view and pull other things into the equation. I am sure the Donegal shirt felt no different on young Jack Barrett’s back on Sunday evening even though the wheels were falling off Donegal in their defeat against Tyrone.I have been a Spurs supporter all my life. Everyone in Wolfe Tone Place in Glencar was much the same in them days as we played football in the green at the front of our house and dreamed of being the great Spurs players of the day as we kick the ball through make shift nets made out of someones jumper or coat. Over the years I have enjoyed my teams success and was reminded every so often of their failure.The thing is I have never ever seen Spurs, the team I supported all these years in real life! Soccer is not my sport but it was just going with the flow when I was growing up in Letterkenny. There is nothing like being there and nothing like Charlie and Jack absorbing the atmosphere at that historic finishing ramp on Sunday evening in Letterkenny. Advertisement If we leave aside the final celebration of winning for a moment and look at the unique new level that the Donegal Rally has arrived at this weekend. The body language of Gary Jennings on the finishing ramp said so much on Sunday evening and he was the first to bravely admit it on social media later on that he was just off the pace.Former double winner of the Donegal International Rally Gary Jennings at the finish on Sunday evening as he reflects on the 2017 event. Photo Brian McDaidOn another year “The Donegal” would have probably have been his, but that was not the case this year.If I was to pick one man that lifted the Donegal Rally to a new level this weekend it would have to be the one man that paid the ultimate price, that was Donagh Kelly who posted the first 10 fastest stage times without a reply.Donagh Kelly who made the Donegal International Rally one of the best in years with his drive over the weekend. Photo Brian McDaidNo waiting game there, and there was only one man that was able to stay with him, and that was the title holder Mandy Kelly.Lessons learned Years ago on a Sunday evening Manus Kelly went into the Atlantic Drive in his National rallying days to battle with Declan Boyle, both of them in Mk2 Escorts That day Declan Boyle went on to win the national Donegal title and Manus tried too hard and went off the road. Last year Manus Kelly sat it out on “the drive” and let Keith Cronin extend his lead and then passed him in Fanad Head to record a amazing first win.It was Jim Mc Guinness who once reminded us that there is no such thing as perfect and no matter how well you are prepared you never know what you are going to meet when you go out on the field. On Sunday it was nearly impossible to spot Fanad Light house as the mist and rain rolled in from Lough Swilly over Fanad Head. I am sure the rally crew were sending their small vessel weather warnings back to the Milford Mart where the service was, after the first run through Fanad which was completely misjudged.Soft Days in Donegal I am sure the late Mandy Kelly, Mandy’s grandfather spent many the day at the mart in Milford and I am sure, knowing him and his quite way his conversation would have ended up on the weather. We have “soft days” in Donegal and they refer to the weather, and are very unique to Ireland. It’s a day when we have both a mist and a drizzle which we some times call a “mizzle” when the rain does not fall to the ground in heavy droplets, but seems to hover and linger in the air.If you are a rally crew and you can manage to translate the term mizzle into a Michelin tyre at the service at Milford Mart you can deal with this. A soft day in Fanad needed a soft slick tyre! If you ever need to question your local hero, Manus Kelly’s ability as a driver, just look at the Fanad stage second time around on Sunday evening, Manus was leading the rally for just one stage and then lost it on the next and with only three stages to go. The perfect storm in Donegal was brewing and two Donegal men were battling for the win.As Manus Kelly passed Doaghbeg National School half way through the Fanad Head stage Manus was back in the lead and when he landed at the post office at the end of the stage he posted a time 18 seconds quicker than anyone else. Manus had given it his all and it was Alister Fisher and Gordon Noble that posted the fastest time on the next stage as the wild Atlantic Drive took another Donegal prisoner in the form of Donagh Kelly, who flipped his Ford onto its roof and back on to its feet and out of the rally. Even the way the rally was run on the final day, Manus Kelly showed his talent by winning his back to back title even with the stages running back to front!When Manus was a wane he watched in amazement as his fellow Glenswilly man, Damien Gallagher, power his Escort up through the Breenagh Stage on the Rally and in turn years before Damien Gallagher did the exact same thing watching Billy Coleman, Ari Vatanen and the late James McDaid on that very same stage.The Breenagh stage has brought these two Glenswilly men to knew heights. At the end of the Harvest Stage in Killybegs last year we chatted to Damien Gallagher and his navigator Mac Walsh and even then they were very focused on winning the Donegal National Rally this year. At that time the big development to his car was the Ohlin Suspension from Sweden. which is a system which is relatively new to Mk2 Escorts in Donegal.No more nearly making itAnyone that knows Damien Gallagher will know he is the one to watch especially in Donegal over the years as he will be on the pace in the National Rally. This year Damien worked and developed on a part of his rallying that up to now didn’t think was important, himself!Damien went on a fitness campaign which in turn included a better frame of mind when you are knocking on the door of success. Damien developed a positive attitude as he prepared for the rally at the weekend.Days like these.. Damien Gallagher and Mac Walsh with their crew at the end of the Donegal Rally on Sunday evening as they lifted the National honours. Photo Brian McDaidIn the past on the run up to the Donegal, sideways swipes all meant to be fun were giving to much thought and were carried into the rally in the past but this year Damien’s reset button was the yellow ring of tape at the top dead centre of his steering wheel which he cleared the decks of in his mind before he started every stage of the Donegal Rally.There were 77 Escorts on the entry for the Donegal Rally at the weekend not to mention Corolla’s Starlets and Dariens. If it was a Kelly battle in the International it was a Gallagher battle in the National where Kevin Gallagher in his Darien and Declan Gallagher (The Milkman) were in front and behind Damien on Sunday. Everything on the Donegal has to go right for you over the three days of the rally and Damien believes he never had a better weekends rallying. The Donegal needs respect and over the years the disappointment of “nearly making it” made Damien really focus on his win.Damien has a team of boys working along with him for years on the Donegal some unfortunately no longer with us like the late Paddy McDaid from the Glen who probably believed in Damien more than he believed in himself.And finally… On Saturday evening at the Gartan Stage I watched the stricken Peugeot rally car getting a friendly pull out of the stage by a farmer in a round bailer.Pic up bailer! A competitor gets a friend tow out of the stage on Saturday evening after his car retired on the stage in Gartan. Photo Brian McDaidThe marshals were local and lived along the stage and maybe assisted in retrieving the car. Local people work better with local people this though was backed up by winner of the National Rally, Damien Gallagher who along with his navigator Mac Walsh were out as members of the Donegal Motor Club on the run up to the rally explaining to local residents on the details of the rally along their route.There is only one thing better that a safe Donegal Rally and tha’ts a safe Donegal Rally with two local heroes like Manus Kelly and Damien Gallagher taking the overall titles home with them, which in turn is a way of saying a big thank you to all of the local sponsors that have supported these lads on the “Donegal” down thought the years.The other highlight of the Donegal Rally was they efforts put in by Charlie Collins and his crew in a first every live streaming of the the rally.Homesick Donegal Rally fans from all over the world tuned into the link on Donegal Daily over the weekend end for the live update of the events, Chris McNulty and Toni Kelly were at the end of the stages as was Highlands team of Oisin Kelly and Chris Ashmore and not forgetting the club president Mac himself Seamus Mc Gettigan.Happy Motoring FolksDD Motoring: Stay at home heroes was last modified: June 21st, 2017 by Brian McDaidShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:brian mc daidJoule Donegal International Rallymotoringthe donegallast_img read more