We'll take advantage of a quiet Friday afternoon to do some catching up on the club league, going back to Conor Murnane's sprint to victory at the club champs in Mondello, and Damien Long's tactical masterstroke of a win on the Green Sheds.

Mondello was once again the venue for the club road race champs, and another calm and settled evening set the scene. Just under 40 riders signed on, an great jump from the 14 who battled in out in the monsoons the previous week. The big groups were Scratch and SL, with 13 riders each, 8 SS and 5 L making up the numbers. The race was split into two handicapped groups of Limit and Scratch, with a four minute headstart given.

With an hour and two laps to do, the Scratch group took their time making the catch, only overhauling the Limit riders at about the 50' mark. Then the inevitable attacks began, with riders trying to break the elastic, and all being swallowed by the bunch. Defending champ Brian McArdle tried a late flyer with a lap to go, but he too was unable to escape the advancing peloton.

When the hesitation before the sprint began, it was the ever-improving Valdis Andersons who seized the race by the scruff of the neck and went in hunt of the line. That sparked a reaction from the rest of the fast finishers, who were on his wheel as he lead out the race from the final hairpin.

It was Conor Murnane who crossed the line first, with a tight photofinish to decide 2nd. Bryan Geary was declared the victor of that call after consulting the footage, with Andersons holding on for the final medal despite the long stretch to the line. Murnane's form has been peaking for the Scott Junior Tour, and the club champs title is a well-deserved accolade after a string of successes this season.

4th went to McArdle, adding to his overall league lead, while Jamie Busher earned an upgrade to Scratch for 5th. The consistently strong Brian McNally hoovered up the last of the points in 6th.

For the women's competition, we were unfortunately one shy of the five needed to make it a proper championship event. Nonetheless, Helen Horan can claim the title of fastest woman on the night, taking the race from reigning club woman Aideen Keenan. Ciara Kinch rounded out the podium, strong performances from the DID Electrical and Towers riders failing to match the Orwell display.

Thanks to organisers for a good night's racing, and to Ronnie Brannigan for his help at the finish line.

The men's podium along with the women's winner

A full CP race followed on the Green Sheds circuit, with nine Limit allowed off first. Semi-limit and Semi-scratch were meant to pursue them together, but several SS riders missed the call and sat waiting at the start line before realising their mistake. That meant SS riders split across the SL and S chasers, as well as a few in their own group. Scratch went off last, and set a hard pace from the start.

Apart from Conor Murnane, who was saving himself for the Track Champs, the chasers got their heads down and picked up the SS lads after a lap. They combined forces well to hunt down SL with half a lap to go, with strong contributions from Jules Cantwell, Graham Scanlon, Julian Moore and Eoin Byrne. Up ahead though, Limit were working well together, with the experienced direction of Damien Long meaning a shared, steady pace, and an armchair ride for the Gorey stage winner.

Long freely admitted to only working when absolutely needed, and picked out club woman Helen Horan as doing trojan work all the way around (which, as Diarmuid Donnelly pointed out, would make her Helen of Troy). However, she missed out in the final shakedown.

With the Scratch riders watching from 20" behind, the Limit group geared up for the sprint. Luke Potter was the first to go, but Long put his well-worn racecraft to good use to come around and take the win. James O'Callaghan, who hasn't been since competing in the league since the opening round, took a superb 2nd, with Diarmuid Donnelly just behind him.

Potter held on for 4th, while Dave Murnane showed whom his children take after in 5th and Peadar Corbally nabbed the final points in 6th.

Next up - the TTT, and the hill climb champs!


Orwell League R17: Club RR Champs, Mondello (23/7/2015)

Men's Medals
G Conor Murnane
S Bryan Geary
B Valdis Andersons

Women's Prizes
1 Helen Horan
2 Aideen Keenan
3 Ciara Kinch

1 Conor Murnane (S)
2 Bryan Geary (S)
3 Valdis Andersons (S)
4 Brian McArdle (S)
5 Jamie Busher (SS)
6 Brian McNally (S)

Orwell League R18: Black Bull RR (30/7/2015)

1 Damien Long (L)
2 James O'Callaghan (L)
3 Diarmuid Donnelly (L)
4 Luke Potter (L)
5 David Murnane (L)
6 Peadar Corbally (L)