At Pine Forest last night, all eyes were on Dick O’Brien and Tom Blennerhassett after their recent Rás Mhaigh Eo showings, and they duly did their duty and delivered despite a dismal Dublin deluge dampening their deeds.

It was not a night for the faint-hearted, with significant gusts and constant rain battering competitors, but still eighty Orwell members were in place in Glencullen and its surrounds for the opening time trial of the 2015 league. Chapeau first to the youth riders who signed on to set the early benchmarks. Cathal Keogh for the U12s, Uisneach Sheridan for the U14s, and finally Seán Murnane for the U16s.

Murnane was the revelation of the night, nearly besting older brother Conor, with both recording 11’06”. Less than half a second separated them, with Dave Mc’s excellent timekeeping setting the ranking. The younger Murnane topped the Limit group with his time,  over thirty seconds ahead of second-placed Colin Ceasar.

Times were tight for the rest of the placings, with less than fifteen seconds spread across 3rd to 6th: James O'Callaghan, James Crisp, David Fitzgerald, and Stephen Rowan. All of those acquitted themsevevs well on their club racing début.

For Semi-limit, the cream of Ken O’Neill rose well to the top, past all of Semi-scratch too. His time of 11’01” put him just inside the top ten, and earns him an upgrade to Semi-scratch ahead of next week’s criterium.

Only ten seconds back was Dave McLoughlin, acting as player-manager for the round. Fresh from his hamper race victory, Freddie Stevens took 3rd, with Daragh Boyd in 4th just outside the twelve minute mark. 5th went to the club’s IT expert Jules DeMeester, with Martyn Holmes taking home the final points.

Stephen Barry topped Semi-scratch with 11’04”, his early season racing giving him strong legs. He’s knocking on the door of Scratch, and not far behind him is last year’s 3rd placed league finisher, Conor Murnane.

David Maher took the bronze placing, with Bernard English in 4th. Self-Upgraded Jules Cantwell was only a single second behind English, and Fionn Griffin rounded out the placings.

Scratch riders dominated the event though - as is to be expected, taking the top seven spots. Regular tester Liam Rowsome held off Valdis Andersons for the final points by two seconds, with Patrick O’Brien - still suffering with a sprained wrist - five seconds ahead in 5th.

PRO Brian McArdle was nearly half a minute away from the podium in 4th, where course record holder Eric Downey took 3rd with 10’04”. He was just a single second behind powerhouse Tom Blennerhassett, who claimed the silver spot with 10’03”.

Top of the pile was slick Dick O’Brien who bested the conditions and the competition to take first place with the only time to go below the ten minute mark - 9’58”. O’Brien was second in the TT stage of Rás Mhaigh Eo, losing out only to eventual overall winner Dáire Feeley. Reigning 10TT and 25TT club champion, O’Brien will be a marked man in the club this season, but whether anyone will be able to match his power remains to be seen!

O'Brien receiving one of prizes at Rás Mhaigh Eo last month

Well done to all riders who faced the conditions last night to test themselves against the clock, and many thanks to the marshals who also had to brave the conditions last night, but without the benefit of a hard ride to keep warm!


Orwell League R1: Pine Forest TT (2/4/2015)

1 Seán Murnane
2 Colin Caesar
3 James O'Callaghan
4 James Crisp
5 David Fitzgerald
6 Stephen Rowan

1 Ken O'Neill
2 Dave McLoughlin
3 Freddie Stevens
4 Daragh Boyd
5 Jules DeMeester
6 Martyn Holmes

1 Stephen Barry
2 Conor Murnane
3 David Maher
4 Bernard English
5 Jules Cantwell
6 Fionn Griffin

1 Dick O'Brien
2 Tom Blennerhassett
3 Eric Downey
4 Brian McArdle
5 Pat O'Brien
6 Liam Rowsome