With the league now done and dusted, we dip back into the final two rounds - Brian McArdle's ascendency on Kilmashogue, and Sean Barry's victory in Glencullen.

The Hill Climb Championship was held with a rare tailwind on a fine August evening, which lent itself to some record-breaking times. With defending champion Brian Ahern back to try retain his title, and last year's silver medallist Brian McArdle in flying form after the club champs, it was likely to be a duel of Brians. The third man from the 2013 podium was absent though, Eric Downey favouring the nearby CX race, meaning there was more than a degree of uncertainty about who might also place - with nothing guaranteed for the Brians of course.

Rachel Glendon also absented herself while preparing for an upcoming national champs triathlon event, meaning we were denied the opportunity to see how much Aideen Keenan or Monica Marconi could push her on the night. Unfortunately not enough women comepted to qualify the event for medals.

Competition was tight near the top of the league table, with less than ten points separating Downey, Fionn Sheridan and Conor Murnane - all fighting for 3rd.

When the dust settled and after sorting out some minor confusion over the times, McArdle emerged as the victor to earn his second club title of the year, with an improvement on last year's time of over 30" to set a new course record of 08:54. Ahern netted another medal, earning silver just 12" off the pace with 09'06" - a blazing fast time just 4" slower than the course record he set last year.

McArdle at last year's National Hill Climb Champs

League leader Patrick O'Brien bested Neal Hudson to take the bronze, with both riders showing big improvements from last year. O'Brien was a mere 2" behind Ahern, knocking over a minute off his PB, while Hudson shaved 42" off his to finish only 8" down on O'Brien.

Seamus Nolan, upgraded to carbon fibre since last year's surprise performance, topped Semi-scratch to earn 5th overall in 09:35, while Fionn Sheridan bagged 6th with one of the biggest improvements of the night - 1'30" off his PB to set 09:38.

David Swift took the last Scratch points with 09:44, and David Maher was 2nd Semi-scratch, setting the vets record with a time of 10:05. Conor Murnane did enough to leapfrog Sheridan in the overall (by a single point) with 10:13 earning him 3rd Semi-scratch - only his second event in the category. With that time he set the record for Junior men - a full 30" better than Craig Arrigan's effort.

Fionn Griffin, Ed O'Mahoney and Cormac Bracken rounded out the Semi-scratch prizes with a very tight set of times - 10:17, 10:19 and 10:20. O'Mahoney was the only one to record a new PB, with a 23" discount.

In 15th overall, and 1st Semi-limit, Dave McLoughlin made one of his rare appearances in the saddle to take nearly a minute off his previous record. Last year's Blue Light winner Colum Bradley held off Aideen Keenan for 2nd spot, with Keenan setting a new women's record with 10:54.

Monica Marconi was 5th Semi-limit, with a time of 11:08 - which was briefly the course record (the previous, set by Glendon in 2013, was 11:34) before Keenan crossed the finish line about three minutes later. Marconi's time was good enough to set the standard for the veteran women, which should be a hefty consolation to missing out on the women's top spot.

Jeffrey Hoare took 4th in the car, while track force Daniel McElroy was tied with Marconi in 11:08 - being beaten by the Wexford winner by only hundredths of seconds.

For Limit, Sean Barry start the first half of a double, taking first with 10:32, closely followed by Dan Coulcher in 10:34. Those times were good enough to beat all of Semi-limit bar Dave Mc, a sign of a pending upgrade for next year no doubt!

Youth rider Sean Murnane was 3rd with 11:15, and Greg Farrell slightly further back in 11:34. 5th and 6th went to Niall Kieran and Bernard Sellars - both riders finishing in just over twelve minutes.

A big thank you to Dave Mc, Eddy Lane, Damien Long, Jen Sheridan and all the assorted helpers and marshals for a solid night's racing. As well as the champs event, we also had leisure riders testing themselves against the clock, including several youth riders on a shorter course.

The support from the sidelines and the sense of inclusion and buzz generated by the participation of the youth riders made for a fantastic atmosphere. Of the youth riders, Luke Keating fared best, with a blazing time of 04:14, with only Uisneach Sheridan getting in under the five minute mark with 04:45.

Also competing were brothers Jamal and Suleyman Ahmed, siblings Killian and Alice O'Brien, and regular racer Andrew Ryan. Well done to them all on climbing a treacherous peak!

Conditions were slightly worse for the final round - a short road race starting from the Devil's Elbow. Persistent rain throughout the day forced a return to the safety of last year's course. The original plan was to do anti-clockwise, as is traditional with Irish road races, but some dangerous descents meant a repeat of last year's clockwise circuit.

That didn't entirely prevent all accidents, as Patrick O'Brien had a run-in with the ditch climbing out of Glencree. Though the rain held off for the race itself, the road surface was still wet and slick; combined with the tough parcours, riders came across the line in dribs and drabs, dirty and dishevelled.

A break of three Limit riders managed to stay away, with a lone Semi-scratch rider in the shape of Stephen Barry disrupted the opportunity of an all Limit podium. After taking the top Limit prize at the hill climb, Sean Barry survived the climbs of the challenging course with the freshest legs, beating young Sean Murnane for 1st.

Semi-scratch Barry took 3rd ahead of Dan Coulcher, with Conor Murnane placing ahead of Eric Downey to cement his position on the overall podium. Downey took advantage of the over-politeness of Davids Maher and McLoughlin as they approached the line, each wanting to grant the other the final placing.

Every placer should be quite proud of their legs on a hard night of racing - the course, competition and weather all creating a tough session in the saddle. There was relief afterwards as the club adjourned to the Blue Light for food and drink and much merriment.

Prizes for the league will be presented at the September 27th club night, when there will also be a series of Leisure awards, as well as the championship medals. Full results in the spreadsheet, but congratulations to the winner Patrick O'Brien!

O'Brien ran away with the league, rising to the top early on, and placing in all bar three of the races he signed on for. Of those, one featured a large handicap with no Scratch placers, while another was the Blue Light, when he came down. A remarkable set of results, and he is a deserving winner of the trophy - specially crafted by Peter Killeen.

Pat O'Brien in action at the National Champs in June, and some fred in Garmin kit

Silver goes to Brian McArdle, who steadily moved up the rankings from an innocuous start, and bronze goes to Junior Conor Murnane, who stealthily nipped in at the close after missing many of the middle rounds.

In the women's medals, Aideen Keenan wrapped up a fantastic début league with overall gold, winning all four champs events along the way, to add to a string of dominant open results. Her solo Suir Valley criterium triumph was so excellent that it was showcased on Setanta Sports last week!

Ann Horan - another débutante - claimed silver with a couple of very strong testing placings, and veteran Monica Marconi rounded out the podium thanks to her savage hill climb.

As well as congratulations to the participants, many thanks are due to the organisers. Eddy Lane and Damien Long were present on the roadside nearly every week, making sure everything ran smoothly. They deserve a whole lot of praise, credit and kudos for their work behind the scenes, and in front of the scenes too!

Dave Mc did a tonne of work for each time trial - introducing pre-registration and seeded times, as well as listing PBs that some riders probably didn't even know they had, and then recording improvements. Jen Sheridan was ousted as our awesome barbecue chef this year, but was still a fantastic helper and race runner throughout the league, along with Paul Tansey, John Lanigan, Denis Gleeson and David Hendron - all of them lending hands during the year and running several races.

Dick O'Brien had a surprising amount of work organising the marshals, and keeping tabs on no-shows and swaps, so fair play to him. Brian McArdle put his Excel skills to good use keeping track of the results and riders in the spreadsheet. And to the marshals themselves, thank you to those who showed up and filled the roster - without you we couldn't run the league.

Charlotte MacDonald and Ciara Kinch also ran a race each for penance, thank you to them. Paul Brosnan had to emigrate to Belgium midway through the season, but we thank him for his efforts before he left.

If you want to add your voice for a great season's worth of racing, there's a forum thread in which to post.

That's all for 2014, we hope to see everyone back for 2015!


Orwell League R20: Kilmashogue Hill Climb Champs (14/8/2014)

Men's Medals
G Brian McArdle
S Brian Ahern
B Patrick O'Brien

1 Brian McArdle
2 Brian Ahern
3 Patrick O'Brien
4 Neal Hudson
5 Fionn Sheridan
6 David Swift

1 Seamus Nolan
2 David Maher
3 Conor Murnane
4 Fionn Griffin
5 Ed O'Mahoney
6 Cormac Bracken

1 Dave McLoughlin
2 Colum Bradley
3 Aideen Keenan
4 Jeffrey Hoare
5 Monica Marconi
6 Daniel McElroy

1 Sean Barry
2 Dan Coulcher
3 Sean Murnane
4 Greg Farrell
5 Niall Kieran
6 Bernard Sellars

1 Luke Keating
2 Uisneach Sheridan

Orwell League R21: Blue Light Road Race (21/8/2014)

1 Sean Barry (L)
2 Sean Murnane (L)
3 Stephen Barry (SS)
4 Dan Coulcher (L)
5 Conor Murnane (SS)
6 Eric Downey (S)

Orwell League 2014

Men's Medals
G Patrick O'Brien
S Brian McArdle
B Conor Murnane

Women's Medals
G Aideen Keenan
S Ann Horan
B Monica Marconi