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Dessie Keenan - Winner 2003 Billy Coleman Award

Posted: December 1, 2003 8:13 PM - 6028 Hits


  • Young Rally Driver Of The Year Title For Monaghan’s Dessie Keenan
  • Hall of Fame Award for Billy Coleman
Irish Motorsport honoured its top performers for 2003 at a celebration lunch held in Dublin earlier today (Monday, 1 December, 2003). The “Awards for Excellence in Irish Motorsport” event which brought together the leading performers from all disciplines in Irish motorsport was created by the sport’s governing body Motorsport Ireland and sponsored by Alfa Romeo.
Photo: Motorsportireland.com

Posted: December 1, 2003 8:13 PM

In all seven awards were presented to reflect outstanding achievement in karting, motor racing and rallying both at home and abroad during 2003.

The two major awards on the day went to the Young Rally Driver of the Year and the Young Racing Driver of the Year, both of whom received support packages of €32,000, each made up of a mix of training and finance.

Twenty-six year old Monaghan born Dessie Keenan became the fourth winner of the Billy Coleman Award for taking the Young Rally Driver of the Year title. Keenan was previously shortlisted for the award in 2002.

The Billy Coleman Award which consists of a support package of €32,000 is supported by the Irish Sports Council, Motorsport Ireland and Rally Clubs from all over the country. This year’s winner Dessie Keenan made the final three in season 2002 before losing out to Shaun Gallagher.

This year Keenan has swept all before him. His Championship year started with a 5th overall and a class win in the Kerry Single Stage event. During the season he competed in 19 events in Great Britain, Holland and at home notching up a further five class wins.

This year’s Hall of Fame Award went to Billy Coleman, one of the most remarkable rally drivers Ireland has ever produced. Three times winner of the Circuit of Ireland he also enjoyed much success rallying in Europe over a twenty year period.

At the lunch Eugene Donnelly was presented with his Dunlop National Rally Championship Trophy. A fantastic season that saw him win in Mayo, Cavan, the Circuit of Munster, the Raven’s Rock Rally, the Tipperary Stonethrowers Rally and the Galway Summer Rally. He also finished second in Monaghan and in Clare where he was crowned Dunlop champion with the luxury of one round remaining. Eugene also won the Northern Ireland Rally Championship and was victorious on the Killarney International Rally. All in all he contested 25 rallies and only failed to finish on just two occasions.

Speaking at the Awards luncheon Cecil Sparks, Chairman of Motorsport Ireland spoke of the international success being enjoyed by many Irish drivers during 2003. He said that the two young driver award schemes undoubtedly were contributing to this success of Irish drivers abroad.

In congratulating Eoin Murray on his Young Racing Driver of the Year Award he noted that during 2003 the organisers had introduced a skills element which had added greatly to this year’s scheme. Sparks also noted that while currently there is no similar skills test for the Young Rally Driver of the Year scheme Motorsport Ireland are certainly going to look into that for the coming 12 months. He said that while the two schemes now had almost €100,000 in funding “Motorsport Ireland will be looking for further financial assistance during 2004 with a view to enhancing these schemes by a further €50,000”.

27/11/03 Young Rally Driver of the Year to be Announced on 1st December.

Three of Ireland’s brightest young rally driving hopes have been shortlisted for this year’s Billy Coleman Award which goes to the “Young Rally Driver of the Year” along with a support package worth E32,000. The winner will be announced at the Alfa Romeo sponsored Awards for Excellence in Irish Motorsport lunch scheduled for 1st December. The three drivers shortlisted for the award are;-
    · Aidan Bourke, Templemore, Co Tipperary
    · Martin Browne, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
    · Dessie Keenan, Tydavnet, Co Monaghan
The three were selected from a group of 13 finalists for this year’s award.

The other finalists all of whom were highly commended were;-
    · John Carroll, Co. Kilkenny
    · Roland Doherty, Co. Limerick
    · Shane Feely, Co. Roscommon
    · John Foley Jnr., Co. Cork
    · Jason Kelly, Co. Dublin
    · Kenneth Mulvaney, Co. Sligo
    · Ken O’Neill, Co. Kerry
    · Graham Quinn, Co. Meath
    · Matt Shinnors, Co. Limerick
    · William Whitty, Co. Wexford

13 Drivers going for this year's Billy Coleman Award.

Aidan Bourke Co. Tipperary
Dessie Keenan Co. Monaghan
Graham Quinn Co. Meath
Jason Kelly Co. Dublin
John Carroll Co. Kilkenny
John Foly Jnr Co. Cork
Ken O' Neill Co. Kerry
Kenneth Mulvaney Co. Sligo
Martin Browne Co. Westmeath
Matt Shinnors Co. Limerick
Roland Doherty Co. Limerick
Shane Feely Co. Roscommon
William Whitty Co. Wexford

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