One dramatic chase resulted in Seán Murnane taking a large bunch sprint, while another duller affair saw Semi-scratch settle affairs with Freddie Stevens fastest in a small gallop. Corkagh Park racing is different every race, full reports below!

It was another threatening but dry night for the last Corkagh Park round of the 2015 league. It was probably the overcast skies that meant numbers were a little lower than usual, but 63 riders signed-on, with the opening race seeing 18 Semi-limit riders chasing 15 Limit ones.

With the memory of their runaway success still fresh in their minds from Brittas, Limit kept the gap pegged for much of the race, but slowly shelled riders as the chase wore on. Big pulls at the front of Semi-limit from the likes of Daniel McElroy, Daragh Boyd and Seán Murnane among others saw the gap tumble in the second half of the race.

Stephen Hayden doing a turn on the front (photo thanks to Ian Anderson)

The lead group of five Limit riders became four as Luke Keating's strong showing came to a close, but John Blennerhassett, David Cahill, James Crisp and Fintan Keatinge pushed on. Their time out front came to a heart-breaking end as the massive mostly Semi-limit bunch made the catch as Eddy Lane rang the bell for the final lap.

The lead group from Limit (photo thanks to Brian McArdle)

The bunch finally reels them in (photo thanks to Brian McArdle)

There was no doubting the winner, as Murnane pulled out a trademark kick to take the gallop by a bikelength. 2nd place with to Oisín Boland, returning to form from a long period of inactivity after an injury. Last week's silver finisher Richard Cattle rounded out the podium on his first race in Semi-limit.

4th was a mystery solved by Jeffrey Hoare, with 5th going to Boyd and the final placing was won by Stephen Rowan.

Although they finished outside the ultimate placings, the hard and well-organised riding by the quartet of Limit riders who eluded the catch until the last lap was recognised and rewarded with upgrades to Semi-limit. They'll make fine additions to the chase ahead of next week's Sallygap race.

The win (photo thanks to Ian Anderson)

15 Semi-scratch riders were also likely thinking of their haul of placings when they set off with intent. Their track record of evading capture in Corkagh Park or placing has been poor this year, but tonight the 14 Scratch men didn't seem to put their heart into the chase. The group stayed mostly together, but a lack of co-operation between the riders saw the bunch fracture in the closing laps, with Eric Downey and Valids Andersons the most determined pair that contested 7th place.

The strong Semi-scratch group (photo thanks to Ian Anderson)

There were few visible inroads into the handicap though, and the race culminated in a small sprint between many of the same riders as last week's. Despite having a huge margin in the closing laps, only Ken O'Neill showed the aggression to attack at the bell. He was caught on the run-in, with Freddie Stevens pipping Dunsany victor Mark Holland at the chalk, and Frank O'Rourke prizewinner Jamie Busher taking bronze for his efforts.

Bernard English earned 4th, while O'Neill finished 5th. O'Neill often looks the strongest on the road, but triumph on the line has escaped him thus far. Stephen Barry took the final set of points.

The four of those six who placed last week have been upgraded to Scratch ahead of the Rás week, so they'll have a better chance to shine. With the Sallygap race usually well handicapped, it'll be a challenge to make the leap, but they've shown this season they're well able for the pace!

Stevens clinches his fist in celebration (photo thanks to Ian Anderson)


Orwell League R7: Corkagh Park Crit (14/5/2015)

L/SL Race
1 Seán Murnane (SL)
2 Oisin Boland (SL)
3 Richard Cattle (SL)
4 Jeffrey Hoare (SL)
5 Daragh Boyd (SL)
6 Stephen Rowan (SL)

SS/S Race
1 Freddie Stevens (SS)
2 Mark Holland (SS)
3 Jamie Busher (SS)
4 Bernard English (SS)
5 Ken O'Neill (SS)
6 Stephen Barry (SS)