Nearly sixty riders signed on in gorgeous conditions last night, with two riders coming out on top in the senior races - Davids Maher and Halpin. A tie in the junior race meant both Uisneach Sheridan and Andrew Ryan claimed first place.

The sun was shining warmly, though a stiff breeze meant it wasn’t all plain sailing around the twists and turns of Corkagh Park. The turnout could’ve been higher but for the impending stage races this weekend - Orwell are sending representatives to Kerry for the prestigious Rás Mumhan and to Wexford for the long-running Gorey 3 Day.

The youth riders took the stage as the first race of the night, which came down to a photo finish between Uisneach Sheridan and Andrew Ryan. With the lack of a finishing camera however, the race was declared a tie. Sulayman Ahmed held off older brother Jamal Ahmed and Ross Frehill to take a fine third.

Limit were off first for seniors, with a generous handicap ahead of Semi-limit. For several laps it looked like the catch might not be made, with Semi-limit failing to make any meaningful inroads on the gap. Limit seemed to tire as the race progressed, and Semi-limit got on terms with two laps to go - a credit to the organisers for getting the handicap just right.

The race was marred by one crash, when a touch of wheels on the first bend led to Ivan O’Brien hitting the tarmac. He was in good spirits afterwards, sporting some impressive road rash, while the bottom bracket of his bike may need replacing. It's a good excuse to splash out on a new bike though, just to be safe.

It came down to a bunch sprint in the end, veteran David Maher holding off Keith Harte to take first place. Turbo-charged Maher placed 3rd in the opening league, and put his engine to good use on the track last night. Tour of Wicklow reporter John Twomey took 3rd, while Timothy Kaye-Mellor and Arek Pierozynski took their second set of placings in as many weeks. Aideen Keenan nipped in for the last of the points, her experience from the Women’s Crit League no doubt helping her position in the final run-in.

Scratch were chasing Semi-scratch for the final race, with two small groups trying to keep the pace high. With the wind making tough work for those on the front, there wasn’t a lot of cohesion in the hunt. Diarmuid Collins was the first to bridge across to the front group, with the rest of Scratch eventually tagging on to the back with about four laps to go.

When the bell was sounded the pace ramped up and the bunch were strung out. David Halpin was dangling off the front for much of the finish, and he held everyone at bay to take the win on the line. Liam Rowsome got a good jump to take 2nd, with Brian McArdle marking his comeback with 3rd.

David Swift beat Gavin Dodd for 4th, while Rás veteran John Sower made a welcome return to racing to earn 6th and the last of the points.

Those results mean David Maher and Liam Rowsome are tied at the top of the table, with the previous leaders falling due to absence. Timothy Kaye-Mellor is a noticeable name in the top ten, a great spot for the U16 rider.

Next week we return to Corkagh for the last of the opening crits, before the 10M TT the following week. In the meantime, best of luck to anyone racing this weekend, be Kerry, Gorey, Laois or elsewhere!


Note: one rider was removed from the placings tonight for repeated dangerous riding throughout the race. While it is competitive, the league is a learning environment and designed as an introduction to racing for newcomers, and a safe workout for more experienced ones. There is no place for aggressive contact or manoeuvres which ignore the safety of other riders - such behaviour will not be tolerated. The penalty of disqualification is not given lightly, and was decided upon irrespective of results.

Please let this be a lesson to all riders. If any rider continually offends in this regard, they will be barred from the league.


Orwell League R3: Corkagh Park Criterium (17/4/2014)

Race #1 (Youth)
=1 Uisneach Sheridan
=1 Andrew Ryan
3 Sulayman Ahmed
4 Jamal Ahmed
5 Ross Freehill

Race #2 (L/SL)
1 David Maher (SL)
2 Keith Harte (SL)
3 John Twomey (SL)
4 Tim Kaye Mellor (SL)
5 Arek Pierozynski (SL)
6 Aideen Keenan (L)

Race #3 (SS/S)
1 David Halpin (SS)
2 Liam Rowsome (S)
3 Brian McArdle (S)
4 David Swift (S)
5 Gavin Dodd (S)
6 John Sower (SS)