1970 Boreen Rally

1970 Boreen winners Robert Maharry and Kenny Johnston slide their Cooper S round a bend on the Glenart Castle section.

Boreen Rally to Mini from Maxi.

This report by Brian Foley appeared in Autosport Magazine 5 February 1970.

ROUND 5 of the 1969/70 Eire Rally Championship, the Boreen R-ally, aptly named after the ancient Irish description of an unsurfaced and rough lane, was co-organised on January 24/25 by the Dublin University and Trials Drivers’ clubs. Championship leaders Noel Smith/Ricky Foott and runners-up in the points table John Bridges/Brendan Doyle, both Cooper S mounted, retired, and the rally went to Robert Maharry/Kenny Johnston (Cooper S) from Rosemary Smith/Paul Phelan in a works Maxi.

The line-up included all the championship contenders, with Miss Smith/Phelan running at the head of the 38-car entry in the Maxi, Bridges/Doyle next, and then came Smith/Foott in the hope of clinching the championship title by finishing well up.

Charlie Gunn/Harry McEvoy were in Gunn’s old Lotus Cortina, the more familiar Escort TC being prepared and spared for a big Gallaher Circuit of Ireland effort at Easter. John O‘Gorman/Noel Davin were in hard luck with their Escort TC, which suffered oil pump trouble before the start, and they were unable to run.

The first three stages, all forestry ones, were close to the start at Avoca, Co. Wicklow, and all three were tackled in the first hour or so after the 10 pm start. Robin Powderley/Brian Cusack in a 1.5 Anglia, running number 12, set the pace on the 3.3 miles SS1 Ballymoyle, dropping only 7:09 in dense fog to the 7:43 of Maharry/Johnston and Linehan/Cotter and the 7:46 dropped by Bridges/Doyle, all Cooper S-mounted.

Powderley was again quickest (7:23) on SS2, 5.4 miles at Shelton Abbey, well in front of Bridges (7:43) and Smith (7:46). Flooding caused trouble here, and Charlie Gunn’s Cortina stopped with water in the electrics. Pat Fay/Frank O’Donoghue dropped a big navigational clanger, arrived in the middle of the stage, and when they finally got sorted out the Renault Gordini burst a water hose and they retired,

It was Powderley again on SS3, 2.5 miles at Glenart Castle, only down 3:32 despite a rough engine. Linehan and John Tansey, both autocross experts, were next. Linehan dropped 3:39, and Tansey/Billy O’Neill (BMW 2002) 3:40. Powderley‘s hat-trick of stages gave him a 65-secs lead over Linehan at this stage.

A 10-mile road section to TP1, near Courtown Harbour, Co. Wexford, saw some major navigation errors, with only three crews clean, Miss Smith/Phelan, Smith/Foott and Bridges/Doyle. Linehan/Cotter incurred two penalty marks, and Powderley/O’Neill dropped 13.

Bridges/Doyle and Smith/Phelan dropped one and two marks respectively through wrong-slotting the route to TP3, but the other Smith’s map man Foott was saved embarrassment when they met the other two crews and copped the error! At the first petrol stop, at Ferns, Smith/Foott had the only clean sheet; Bridges/Doyle and Maharry/Johnston were down one each, followed by Miss Smith/Phelan (2), David Yeates/Sean McCabe (Cooper S) on 8, and Paddy Farrelly/Ray Inglis (Gordini) on 9.

The first three crews cleaned the next three TPs, but things then got both tougher and tighter and Miss Smith/Phelan in the Maxi dropped four at TP9; but Smith/Foott dropped eight and Bridges/Doyle nine after chasing each other over a non-goer. All crews were penalised at control 4; the two Smiths were the only two unpenalised at TP11, and here Powderley’s Anglia dropped out.

Smith’s Cooper S then went out dramatically with a broken diff, but many others were in trouble too and only 15 crews were still in action at the second petrol stop back in Avoca. Miss Smith/Phelan were leading, with eight marks dropped, and looked set for a big win with the new Maxi. Bridges/Doyle (15), Maharry/Johnston (17), Yeates /McCabe (32) and Farrelly/Inglis (35) were next up.

The last road section, through the Avoca Copper Mines area, to control 5 saw Miss Smith/Phelan losing five; Bridges lost three and Maharry one, and this put these two in joint second place. Linehan/Cotter were 2 min over the maximum lateness allowance and were excluded.

The never-say-die Powderley suddenly arrived back in the rally for SS4 and was fastest (7:44) from Bridges (7:50), with Tansey third in the deceptively quiet BMW (8:02).

However, there was more drama just after the finish of the section when the diff also packed up on the Bridges Cooper S, which put Noel Smith back in a happier position as far as the championship is concerned. Powderley went off on SS5, 3.1 miles at Barn-bawn, and fastest was Tansey (5:06), from a rather unhappy Mick Barry/Dan Kavanagh (Escort TC) at 5:10 and Maharry on 5:23.

Powderley really wound up the Anglia on SS6, 8.8 miles at Glenealy, to make best time (13:11) from Barry (13:29) and Tansey (14:09). The last speed section (SS7) was won by Tansey (4:48), with Barry again second (5:01), and Yeates third (5:04). Powderley missed out this one due to loose wheel studs on the Anglia.

Maharry went off on the last section but recovered rapidly, and when navigator Johnston wrong-slotted coming out of the forest and they were down 3 minis at control 6. The last 15 miles to the finish at Greystones saw no further drama, but only seven crews arrived for breakfast to be classified. Miss Smith/Phelan lost only 13 marks on the road, but the Maxi just wasn’t quick enough in the forests, and Maharry/Johnston pulled ahead on stage times.

Brian Foley


  1. R Maharry/K Johnston (1.3 Mini-Cooper S) 44.2 (21 on road);
  2. Miss R Smith/P Phelan (1.5 Austin Maxi) 53.1 (13);
  3. P Farrelly/R Inglis (1.3 Renault R8 Gordini), 79.6 (37);
  4. D Yeates/S McCabe (1.3 Mini-Cooper S), 83.7 (34);
  5. M Barry/D Kavanagh (1.6 Ford Escort TC), 125.8 (109);
  6. J Tansey/B O’Neill (2.0 BMW 2002), 367.0 (351);
  7. L Murphy/W Schnittger (850 Mini), 819.0 (701).

RIAC Rally Championship positions after five events:

Drivers: 1, N.Smith. 59 pts; 2, J.Bridges, 48; D.Yeates. 47; 4, M.Barry, 42; 5, J.O’Gorman, 38; 6. R.Maharry, 37; 7, P.Fay, 24; 8, W.Kilroy, 22; 9, M.Dolan, 20; 10, P.O‘Suilleabhain, 19.

Navigators: 1, R.Foott, 59; 2. D.Kavanagh, 45; 3, N.Davin, 38; 4, K.Johnston, 37; 5, F.O’Donoghue, 37; 6, B. Doyle, 36; 7, P.Phelan, 34; 8. D.Flanagan, 24; 9, Mrs K.Bridges, 22; 10, J.O’Brien, 20 (2).