Time for Coleman award shake-up

Irish motorsport is in the middle of its award season and sandwiched between last week’s Dunlop presentation and tomorrow night’s Valvoline Irish Forest Championship ceremony were the interviews for the prestigious Billy Coleman award.

Seven young hopefuls were put through their paces and three have since been chosen to go forward for the top prize worth €50,000, which will be presented at the Champions of Irish Motorsport Awards next month.

Monaghan pair Josh Moffett and Stephen Wright and Kerry’s Rob Duggan are the trio who have come through the process.

Very little has changed in the interview process since the late Rory Galligan won the inaugural award in 2000. Last Tuesday, a panel of five individuals had the task of selecting the top three, whittled down from the original seven. Few, if any, of the interviewees saw any of the seven drivers in action out on the stages around the country. Is it fair they have to make their selection based on a professionally prepared CV and how the nominees sold themselves in terms of an event programme? A skills test allied to continuous assessment would be a help.

The Billy Coleman award is a fabulous idea, yet, with a little extra vision and innovation, the selection day could be transformed into a great event for the young drivers. Those responsible for the award should make a bold move and elevate it to a higher plateau and whilst doing so, why not, for one occasion, alternate the award with its racing equivalent, such a move would allow the winner to net €100,000.

Winners of the Coleman award should not have to resort to running draws to fund their campaigns. Innovation is needed but desire will be necessary. The award should not be allowed to stagnate — it should be a fitting tribute to the legend that is Billy Coleman.

On the competitive front, the roads of north Longford and south Leitrim provide the backdrop to tomorrow’s third round of the National Navigation Trial Championship, hosted by the Midland Motor Club and starting from Ballinamuck, County Leitrim. The 80-mile event begins at 9pm and is also a round of the Squealing Pig Border Navigation series.

The Irish Rallycross Championship takes place on Sunday with the final round at Mondello Park. It is a straight battle between Bunclody’s Andrew Morris (Subaru Impreza) and Longford’s John Kelly (Ford Fiesta). Also on Sunday, the Cavan Loose Surface Autocross takes place at Latton, near Cootehill.

Awards for the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship will be presented at the Clonmel Park Hotel tomorrow night. London-domiciled Cork driver Michael O’Brien will receive the Dr Jackson Memorial Trophy. The Churchtown native won the series by a point from Ovens driver Owen Murphy.

Double Rally of the Lakes winner, Daragh O’Riordan will drive a hired Mk. 2 Ford Escort on the Rentokil-Initial Killarney Historic Rally on Saturday December 7.

Following last week’s penultimate round of the Great Stuff Catering Loose Surface Autocross Championship, Roscommon’s Derek Deane (JB Buggy) has opened up an eight-point lead over top saloon driver, Limerick’s Matt Shinnors (Subaru). Ballyvourney’s James Lucey (Subaru Special) is third, nine points off top spot. The series will be decided at the Cork Loose Surface Autocross on December 27.


Lifestyle

It came as quite a surprise to learn that I had been writing my Weekend column in the Irish Examiner for 21 years — how the years have flown by and how the food scene has changed in Ireland over those two decades.A letter from Darina Allen, celebrating 21 years writing for The Irish Examiner

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