Belfast Telegraph

Donagh Kelly intent on breaking rival Declan Boyle’s stranglehold

By Sammy Hamill

He hails from the north west but Donagh Kelly has made winning in the deep south his speciality. His stand-out victories have come on the Circuit of Kerry and, most recently, the West Cork Rally.

Now Kelly hopes the trend will continue as he tries to end the winning sequence of his Donegal rival Declan Boyle on the Rally of the Lakes, round three of the Irish Tarmac championship, this weekend.

For all their success at national level, Kelly and his Derry co-driver Kevin Flanagan have yet to win a round of Ireland’s premier championship and sit second in the standings after following Boyle’s Subaru home on both the Galway International and the Circuit of Ireland National Rally this season.

The action now switches to one of the most demanding rallies of the year, a two-day battle over the classic Kerry stages, including Moll’s Gap and Caragh Lake.

“This is always a tough rally with great stages that test the car as well as the driver,” said Kelly, who lines at No.5 in his Northgate Ford Focus.

“Anything can happen and the trick is to show good consistent speed and be there at the very end.”

But even though three past Lakes’ winners, Garry Jennings, Derek McGarrity and Eugene Donnelly, are all missing from the 170-strong starting list, Kelly knows he still has a fight on his hands to prevent the Boyle bandwagon rolling on to a third successive victory in the championship.

He also sees ERC Circuit star Sam Moffett and two-times Lakes winner Daragh O’Riordan in their new generation 1600cc turbocharged Ford Fiestas as major threats.

“Sam was on a good pace on the Circuit at Easter and he won the Monaghan Rally in some style last weekend,” he said.

“Daragh has a good record with this rally and I have heard that his Fiesta has been updated very recently. I think they will both be in the mix at the end.”

Kelly also sees local man Alan Ring as a dark horse.

A perennial front-runner in his production Mitsubishis, he has made the decision to switch to an S12 WRC Subaru for his home event.

“Any or all of these drivers could have a significant impact on how the championship points are distributed and it will be important if I can manage to finish ahead of them.

“That has to be my aim,” concluded Kelly.

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