A few high placings along with a couple of unplaced prizes made Drogheda a happy hunting ground for Orwellians at the weekend.

Saturday's Peter Bidwell Memorial was a handicapped affair, with the A1s chasing from behind. Orwell Club Champion Darragh Long was riding in his NRPT colours, now a second year junior and in with the A3s on the start line. At the finish line they were nowhere to be seen however. Long spent the race getting into every move going, and was the first to bridge across to the A4s.

Eventual winner and former Orwell member Séan McKenna (UCD) appeared at the front on the last lap with two others, and Long joined that small group. Some cat and mouse tactics ensued in the final kilometres, with McKenna getting a small gap, and Long the only rider able to jump across.

The two youngsters arrived at the close together, where a tired Long had to settle for second in the sprint. Now in his second season with the Nicolas Roche squad, Long has been dealing with health issues this season and was delighted to get the result. It also comes as a belated 18th birthday present, so we'll have to stop referring to him as a youngster soon!

Long winning the Orwell Road Race Champs last year (courtesy of Damien Long)

Behind Long, perennial placer Odhrán Connors got his first result of the weekend, crossing the line ahead of all the other A2s. He nearly repeated the feat at the Connor Coombes Memorial on Sunday, managing to take home the 3rd unplaced A2. That's a decent weekend for the Rás veteran, and will stand to him in Easter's Rás Mumhan.

Sunday's events were marked by strong winds, which meant plenty of attacking throughout the A3 race. Aidan Collins was in a large early move that stayed away for a lap before being reeled in, with Fionn Sheridan also bridging across.

In the final ten kilometres, Neal Hudson attacked to get a gap from the bunch. With seven kilometres left and a tailwind into the finish, he was motivated to stay away, but welcomed a few select riders bridging across to keep the pack at bay.

Meanwhile, Ronan Grimes had been frustrating the chase at the front of the peloton, but saw an opportunity to jump across to Hudson with a tremendous kick. When the small front group of seven hit the final drag to the line, the bunch were closing fast, but Hudson and Grimes held their positions to take 3rd and 4th respectively, a superb brace!

Grimes is no stranger to the late break, having won his upgrade with a late solo attack last year in Donore. Combined with Hudson's turbo engine and aggressive racing style, the pair were unstoppable. Both are moving up the ranks to an inevitable upgrade to A2, with Hudson now on 10 points of 15, and Grimes notching up his first set of 6.

Hudson gets his envelope

Another man on the move up the categories, Valdis Andersons was back in action to repeat his 2nd place from the Lucan GP. Unlike the A3 race, the A4s stayed together, with few willing to work into the headwind – the pace yoyo-ed from 17kph to 65kph on opposite sides of the course.

With a prime on offer at the end of the 3rd lap, Andersons went on the attack into the headwind, and then sailed away with the tailwind to take the prize easily. Unfortunately the primes were missed at the post-race ceremony, and the organisers later apologised. Andersons was forgiving though, thanking them for a great weekend of safe racing.

Back in the race, he waited for the bunch and settled in for the finishing gallop. Many riders started their sprint prematurely, blowing up before the line, while Andersons worked his way past them – he described the situation as though “they dropped some invisible anchors”. In the end, he simply ran out of road – though he was gaining on winner Stephen Curry (Cuchulainn), Andersons couldn't catch him before the line. The points for the placing will still see him upgraded to A3, and we're excited to see how the strong man does in that category.

Andersons accepting his prize (photo thanks to Dick O'Brien)

Running concurrently over the weekend was the youth Rás na nÓg, with Uisneach Sheridan the sole Orwell representative. With two stages on Saturday, and one on Sunday, the race attracted a large field of around a hundred youth riders. Sheridan has a relaxed attitude to racing, preferring to hang tough and persevere rather than fire off the front. When the going got tough, the tough dropped out, but Sheridan clocked up over 60km over the course of the weekend to complete all stages.

The youth riders

Next week Stamullen competes with the Nenagh Classic for the attention of racers, and we hope it's half as successful as this weekend has been!


Peter Bidwell Memorial, Dunboyne (5/4/2014)

A1/2 Race
1 Sean McKenna (UCD)
2 Darragh Long (Standard Life NRPT)
3 Danny Bruton (AC Bisontine)
4 Mark Dowling (DID Dunboyne)
5 Simon Twomey (Cork County)
6 Fintan Ryan (Standard Life NRPT)
7 Daragh Campbell (Novo Nordisk)
8 Colm Bracken (Usher IRC)

Unplaced A2s
1 Odhrán Connors (Orwell Wheelers)
2 Darragh Zaidan (Adamstown)
3 Darren O’Farrell (Garda)

Unplaced A3s
1 Mark McAuley (MAD)
2 Jim O’Rourke (Tuam)
3 Terry O’Malley (UCD)

Unplaced A4s
1 John Fitzpatrick (U/A)
2 Martin Higgins (Stamullen M.Donnelly)
3 Aubrey Shaw (Sorrento)

Unplaced Juniors
1 Seamus Sinnott (Wexford Wheelers)
2 Jordan McKinley (Errigal)
3 Rossa Doherty (Four Masters)


Coombes-Conor Memorial Drogheda (6/4/2014)

A1-A2 Race
1 Fraser Duncan (Dave Kane Cycles / Northern)
2 Adam Armstrong (Dave Kane Cycles / Northern)
3 Conor Murphy (Caldwell Cycles)
4 Cormac Clarke (Haldane Newry Wheelers)
5 Sean McKenna (UCD)
6 Marc Potts (Omagh Wheelers)
7 David Watson (Toyota North Down)
8 Gary Jeffers (East Tyrone)

Unplaced A2s
1 Marc Reilly (Lucan)
2 Paul Mulligan (Caldwell Cycles)
3 Odhran Connors (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
4 Will McCabe (DID Dunboyne)
5 Joseph Breheny (UCD)

A3 Race
1 Daire Feeley (Donamon Dynamos)
2 Padraig Hughes (Western Lakes )
3 Neal Hudson (Orwell Wheelers)
4 Ronan Grimes (Orwell Wheelers)
5 Ciaran McKenna (Bikeworx)
6 Alan Maye (Clonard)
7 Jim O’Rourke (Tuam)
8 Brendan Stewart (Lucan)

Unplaced Juniors
1 Fintan Ryan (NRPT)
2 Barry Talt (Murphy Surveys Kilcullen)
3 Conn McDunphy (Lucan )
4 Stephen Murphy (Cunga)
5 John Reynolds (Stamullen M Donnelly)

A4 Race
1 Stephen Curry (Cuchulainn)
2 Valdis Anderson (Orwell Wheelers)
3 Cathal Dillane (Galway Bay)
4 Andrew Watters (Garda / Richies Bikes)
5 Brian Moran (Navan Road Club)
6 Colman Burke (Bohermeen)
7 Glenn White (Stamullen M Donnelly)
8 Alan Kelly (Cuchulainn)