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WATCH: Recall his 2017 success, one of Donegal's leading rally drivers announces that he is retiring

Damien Gallagher's career goes back to 1994

One of Donegal's most well known and popular rally drivers is calling it a day.

Damien Gallagher has announced that he is retiring from the sport.

He finished second with Mac Walsh in their Ford Escort MKII at the weekend's Donegal Mini Stages Rally and confirmed afterwards that it was his last event. The highlight of his long rallying career was winning the National Rally in the Donegal International Rally in 2017. 

Tyrone’s Ryan Loughran, with Donegal co-driver Gareth Doherty, emerged victorious in their Ford Escort MKII at the end of a highly successful and well run event on Saturday.

Inver’s Johnny Jordan, with Paddy McCrudden from Donegal Town navigating, finished a fine third overall in their Toyota Starlet.

Speaking at the awards ceremony in The Lagoon, Termon, afterwards, Glenswilly man Gallagher said that he has enjoyed every bit of his rallying career that stretches back to the 1990s.

“The highlight was winning the National Rally in the Donegal (International Rally) in 2017,” he recalled. 

Walsh paid tribute to him, noting his great skill as a driver down through the years.

Gallagher competed in almost 60 events, with his first outing of note way back in 1994 when Derek O’Connor was on the pacenotes as they did the Donegal International Rally.

He subsequently went on to take part in the Donegal International Rally on 23 occasions.

Mac Walsh came on as co-driver in the 1997 running of the event, and was on board for the bulk of rallies after that, although Brendan McElhinney was alongside him for both the Harvest Rally and the International in 2015.

Saturday’s Mini-Stages event was over two 15km stages, run on three occasions, and they certainly proved testing.

Kevin Gallagher and Gerard Callaghan were quickest in the Darrian T90 GTR over the first two stages but went out on stage three.

Loughran then took over, and had an 8.6 second advantage over Paul Reid and Karl Reid in a Ford Escort MK2.

After special stage four, the gap was 7.9 seconds with Gallagher just 0.6 seconds further behind.

Going into the final stage, Loughran was just 0.3 seconds ahead of Gallagher who moved into second.

Reid went out on the final stage and Loughran was quickest in 7:33.7 to end up with a 4.1 second winning margin over Gallagher.

Jordan’s 7:50.3 over the final stage was enough to earn him third spot while Inishowen’s Arron McLaughlin and Darren Curran, who had a decent run last time out in the Donegal Harvest Rally, were fourth, in a Mitsubishi Evo 9, just over seven seconds further back. 

Great credit is due to Clerk of the Course Johnny Baird, and all involved in what proved to be a very successful event.

Thanks were also extended to the Lagoon Bar and Restaurant in Termon, which was the main sponsor, and also the headquarters for the rally.

Donegal Mini Stages Rally Top 10 Finishers

O/A Driver/Codriver Make Diff 

1 Ryan Loughran/Gareth Doherty Ford Escort Mk2 -

2 Damien Gallagher/Mac Walsh Ford Escort Mk2 +0:04.1

3 Johnny Jordan/Paddy McCrudden Toyota Starlet +1:04.5

4 Aaron McLaughlin/Darren Curran Mitsubishi Evo 9 +0:07.4

5 Marty Toner/Sharon Clarke Moore Ford Escort Mk2 +0:28.4

6 William McFadden/Demi McFadden Ford Escort G3 +0:34.4

7 JR McDaid/Eamonn Doherty Ford Escort Mk2 +0:09.1

8 Paddy McDaid/Timmy Lunn Ford Escort Mk2 +0:00.3

9 Christy Gallagher/Lee Cullen Toyota Starlet +0:19.6

10 Alexander Cochrane/Chris Johnson Ford Escort Mk2 +0:01.8

See this week's DONEGAL POST newspaper for more.

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