Eric Downey showed that his form hasn't dipped much since his 2013 overall league win, while Valdis Andersons got the victory that has eluded him since he was upgraded to Scratch that same season after running riot in Corkagh Park.

After Round 8's Sallygap finish went via the Ballysmuttan climb, for Round 13 the organisers routed the race through Tulferris instead, giving riders a tough and lumpy run-in to the final climb. Setting off from Blessington, the handicaps were well set, with the race only coming together with the catch of the leaders just beyond the Liffey bridge at the bottom of the Sallygap climb.

The cross-headwind put everyone in the lefthand gutter, lining out the race as several Scratch riders duked it out with the remains of Limit. It was Eric Downey who went clear early on, getting a gap on the rest of the leaders and holding it all the way to the crest at the crossroads.

Behind him, Pat O'Brien and Diarmuid Collins were working fitfully together, with Eoin Byrne on their wheel with another couple of Limit riders. Brians McNally and McArdle winched their way back into contention on the ascent, along with a few chasers.

McArdle and O'Brien managed to jump away, fighting it out for 2nd, with O'Brien getting the result. Byrne was only non-Scratch placer, a great indication of form and his growing abilities in the saddle. He took 4th in a tight uphill sprint with McNally, while previous Sallygap winner Diarmuid Collins netted 6th.

Downey takes a clear win (photo thanks to Eugene Dillon)

The battle for 4th (photo thanks to Eugene Dillon)

For Round 14, the league was back on the new Russborough House circuit. Just as lumpy as Tulferris, the handicaps were slimmer than those that allowed the Limit groups to contest the win in Round 10. Scott Gilchrist was back again, but on marshalling duty. Fittingly, as lead car for Limit, he also spent this round out in front for the whole race.

The kicker at Glashina less than 2km into the circuit was as painful as ever, but groups sportingly stuck together. The gaps were eroded along the N81, with speeds in excess of 55kph for some riders.

Scratch caught Semi-scratch the final time up Glashina, and the race came together as everyone approached Ballymore Eustace. A daring attack by Neal Hudson saw the pace ramp up, and it finally split on the climb to the turn onto the N81. A select group of riders took the lead, with Stephen Barry on the front doing the lion's share of work.

Eoin Byrne and Diarmuid Collins rolled off the front as the race neared the final corner, but having punctured earlier, Collins sat up before the sprint opened up.

Byrne was swamped by the Scratch placers, with Valdis Andersons charging up the final 300m like a man possessed, winning his first club race since his Corkagh Park double in 2013. A man for the hard races, the combination of a tough circuit and a high pace thinned out the competition and let him show his impressive strength.

Conor Murnane sprinted to 2nd, overcoming Gavin Dodd only in the final metres. League leader Brian McArdle held on for 4th from Brian McNally, while fastman Freddie Stevens rounded out the points in 6th.


Orwell League R13: Sallygap RR (25/6/2015)

1 Eric Downey (S)
2 Pat O'Brien (S)
3 Brian McArdle (S)
4 Eoin Byrne (SL)
5 Brian McNally (S)
6 Diarmuid Collins (S)

Orwell League R14: Russborough House RR (2/7/2015)

1 Valdis Andersons (S)
2 Conor Murnane (S)
3 Gavin Dodd (S)
4 Brian McArdle (S)
5 Brian McNally (S)
6 Freddie Stevens (S)