Interview: Mark Farrelly has his say on the Irish MXoN team selection

After the Irish MXoN team was selected this week and the surprise exclusion of Martin Barr, we thought we would get Mark Farrelly’s side of the story. Quite unbelievably it was the team he wanted to select and he claims he wasn’t put under any pressure by the commission (with Jake’s Sheridan’s dad part of that commission).

Farrelly also believes, “adding Martin back in won’t get us any improvement on this as was shown any other year”. The new team manager must not watch Barr too much in the MXoN to have that opinion. 

Anyway, you can read what Farrelly thinks and decide for yourself what to make of it.

GateDrop: Mark, let’s start with how you landed the MXoN team manager role. Obviously Philip McCullough decided to walk away. But how did you get this opportunity after that?

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Farrelly: I was asked by the commission.

GateDrop: The team was announced this morning. How much power did you have to select the team you wanted? Is this really the team you’d have selected? Or did the commission pick the team?

Farrelly: Yes, I had the full decision to make changes. It was the team I wanted. No, it was Philip’s original two riders of Stuart and Martin which I amended in the end.

GateDrop: With regards to the team, no Martin Barr! Can you explain how that was decided? He’s helped this Nation countless times! He even beat the AMA Champion at RedBud and that wasn’t long ago. He can step it up and Mantova is a perfect track for him!

Farrelly: Philip put Martin and Stuart as his two 450 riders but left the MX2 position open I believe before he resigned. I wasn’t there for this or Philip’s reasons for stepping down. I wish him all the best. Once I was asked to become manager I wanted Jake in the MX2 position and Jason on the 450cc. Yes, Martin has had great achievements in the past and no doubt again in the future but for this year the 450cc position went to Jason.

GateDrop: Did you call Martin to explain the reasons to him?

Farrelly: No, I didn’t call him. I sent him a message to tell him he wasn’t on the team this year and was sorry we didn’t get the chance to work together.

GateDrop: Is it too late for common sense to prevail and Martin gets selected?

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Farrelly: Yes, it is. Obviously Martin is very annoyed as with his support far and wide but it is what it is.

GateDrop: Jake Sheridan is a surprise inclusion. What’s the reason for his selection?

Farrelly: He’s the best MX2 rider and had no other competition for this position. He is strong mentally and physically and is the best sand rider of the 3 on the 250cc I will assure that.

GateDrop: Stuart Edmonds has been impressive this year. You must be looking forward to him leading the team?

Farrelly: Yes, he was number one choice, he picked himself this year with his riding of late. Also, having one lead experienced rider to drive two younger riders was also a factor in leaving out Martin for the other 450cc position.

GateDrop: Jason Meara the past few weeks has also been riding really well and deserves a call up. In the end what were your reasons for picking him on the 450cc and not MX2 bike?

Farrelly: Yes, he does and like Martin had been injured this year and has improved his racing speed each week. He’s a 450cc rider like Martin riding and competing each week on the 450cc and the decision was between him and Martin for this spot only. It’s as simple as that.

Gatedrop: Were Meara/McCormick ever considered for the MX2 slot? They could have easily got an 250cc from their respective teams…

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No, the MX2 rider was Jake. 

GateDrop: You’ve had the role a short time but how’s it going so far? I can imagine a lot of complaining about the team selection to deal with!

Farrelly: I’ve been on the commission not this year but the two years previous helping and sometimes battling with Philip over selections just basically keeping him on his toes like I used to on the mx bikes but we’ve always had the others respect. Yes, so I know the riders very well and their development as riders never expecting to become manager but hoping maybe some day it would happen.

So, yes currently I’m five days as manager. The biggest complaints so far were making this out as a political decision. I replaced Martin with Jason, two Northern Ireland based riders for the only one 450cc position. It really is as simple as that. Jake is a specialist 250cc rider with good sand ability which is improving weekly and has hunger and drive. He deserves this position this year and pips it and Stuey owned his position, so I’m happy.

GateDrop: What’s your expectations and goals for the team at Mantova this year?

Farrelly: The team to get into the A final and enjoy the experience. Adding Martin back in won’t get us any improvement on this as was shown any other year. People just need to chill out, let Martin have time off to heal his body and come back stronger than ever next year to continue his MXoN run and to also respect the manager if possible as I continue towards this years MXoN.

GateDrop: Will you keep the role beyond this year or is that still to be decided?

Farrelly: I’d like to have the opportunity to manage the team for more than one year. It’s been an eye opener today with the love/hate thing going on but lets see how it goes.

Interview: Andy McKinstry