Club Members Battle for National Honours
Two club members James Doherty and Ken Lyons took their battle for the the national stages rally championship to the final event. This account is taken from newspaper reports of the period. There are some gaps so if more information is available please reply.
The 1985 Shellsport Stages Rally Championship consisted of 8 rounds, February started the championship with the Carrick on Suir Willie Loughman forest rally. Next up was the two days of the West Cork on the St Patrick's weekend. Up the county for the one day Midland Moto rally at Edgeworthstown, Co Longford in April. The Circuit of Kerry was two days in May on the Dingle Peninsula. After a few weeks break Carlow was next up in July, then the Stonethrowers early in August and the final round The Galway Summer Rally on the last day of the same month.
Carrick on Suir Forest 24 February
The strong entry had the previous year's winner Ned Flahivan seeded at number 1, the rest of the top twelve included 2 Joe McHale, 3 Hugh O'Brien, 4 AJ Keating, 5 Frank Meagher, 7 Ken Lyons, 10 James Doherty and 12 Mike Pattison from Cheshire who entered his G3 Escort which was sponsored by EARS. The event had 10 stages covering 60 miles. James won the event by 55s from AJ Keating after Joe McHale had problems and Mike Pattison had a borrowed car after his G3 Escort had mechanical problems. Ken Lyons finished in the top 10 and won class 8.
West Cork Rally 16/17 March
The top seeded entrants were regulars on the tarmac championship including John Coyne in Nissan 240RS. Joe McHale was there to continue his attack on the Shellsport Championship along with James Doherty, AJ Keating, Ken Lyons and Mike Pattison. James retired with mechamical issues and Ken retired due to accident damage, Mike Pattison retired with a fuel pump problem. Frank Meagher finished 5th and Joe McHale 7th. McHale led the championship with Doherty second and joint third Keating and Frank O'Mahoney.
Midland Moto Rally 20 April
This event was started and finished at the Park House Hotel, Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford. There was 100 miles of stages in the south of the county. The event was won by Belfastman Dan Daly in a Nissan 240RS with James Doherty second. AJ Keating crashed and fell to 6th in the championship and Joe McHale seriously damaged his Chevette. The championship now had James first and Ken second, Frank Meagher was fourth.
Circuit of Kerry 18/19 May
The Dingle peninsula was the focus for 12 stages on the Saturday with Sunday's 8 stages centred on Headley's Bridge. Ken Lyons finished second behind English challenger Mike Pattison. James Doherty finished well down field after a puncture on Sunday, he was second on the leader board on Saturday. The championship was now 1st Ken Lyons 38 points, 2nd James Doherty 29 and 3rd Mike Pattison 24.
In the gap before the next championship rally in July. Ken and James competed in their home event, the Circuit of Munster (1/2 June), where James was first with Ken over 5 minutes behind in second.
Carlow Stages Rally 30 June
James and Ken repeated their Circuit of Munster result finishing first and second. Third placed Ulsterman Langley Humphries had the early lead but Frank Meagher then took the lead until on the seventh and final stage a water leak shorted his ignition.
Union Food Sligo Stages Rally 20 July
The event had a £7,000 prize fund. Drivers entered included one of the Flying Finns Pentti Arikkalla driving a hired Opel Ascona and Welshman John Price in a R5 Turbo. James Doherty crashed on stage 2 of the 12 stage event leading to the stage being fully cancelled. James continued to finish third behind James Cullan and Frank Meagher with John Price in 4th after a stage 3 spin. Arikkalla retired on stage 7 with a blown engine. Ken Lyons was 10th. Championship now stood at 1st Ken Lyons 58, 2nd James Doherty 57, 3rd Frank Meagher 26
Stonethrowers Rally 11 August
The top three in the championship took the top three places but in reverse order. Frank took first place 2 and a half minutes ahead of James with Ken closing in James to finish only 5 seconds behind after being 11 seconds behind at the service halt. Ken had lost time on one stage when the gear lever came away which he managed to screw back in. This result left them equal on 71 points going into the last round. Frank Meagher was 3rd on 41 points
Galway Summer Stages Rally 31 August
Even though they were going into the last round equal on points, with only 6 of the 8 rounds to count, dropped scores gave a big advantage to James Doherty, needing only to finish in the top 10 to win the championship. The event started from Haedford with 6 stages repeated twice. From the third stage Ken was in trouble his Escort hit a rock and lost 8 minutes. In the end James clinched the title by finishing 2nd to Frank Meagher.
Final points 1 James Doherty 85, Ken Lyons 71, 3 Frank Meagher 56