The first of our reports from the open races for 2015 sees results across the Juniors and Seniors, and men and women! Conor Murnane opened the club's account in Monasterevin, and the second weekend witnessed Chris Mollaghan and Ciara Kinch clock up two more placings in the senior categories.

Conor Murnane marked himself as one to watch last year with increasingly impressive performances throughout the season, culminating in 3rd overall in the club league, and followed up by a win in the Christmas hamper race. He's on track for a successful 2015, but took the time to tell us about the build up to race day, and his first ever open result - a fantastic 4th.

  "The anticipation to the season jumped at the beginning of January at the Mentoring Night with Eddie Lynch and Damien Long. It was great to meet up and discuss plans for the forthcoming season. I decided then my season would begin right on the opening day in Monasterevin. I was gunning to go. It was fantastic to be able to talk to Dave McLoughlin the day before the race. He gave me some vital advice about the course and how to ride it. It was a predominately flat course with crosswinds.

"As I waited on the start line, the anticipation reached fever pitch. All the winters training had been building up to this moment. Then we were off! It was everything I could have hoped for. The sun was out and it wasn't too cold. It was to be an aggressive day of racing but not many attacks stuck. I made sure to be on the sheltered side of the bunch coming into the finish. I felt strong, however I was sitting too far back in the bunch. I managed to move slightly but still thought it was unlikely that I'd find a gap. Then suddenly a gap opened on the inside of the group!

"I went for it with everything I had and crossed the line in bewilderment. I couldn’t believe it, I finished 4th. My first ever placing in an open race! I couldn't really accept it until I was handed the envelope. It's been fantastic all the praise I’ve gotten. It's great to have such a supportive club."

Murnane in action in Dundalk, where he once again acquitted himself admirably (photo thanks to Sean Rowe)

The following weekend, Chris Mollaghan made the trip to Ulster to try nab his first result of 2015. After coming into Orwell from a mountain biking background, Mollaghan threw himself in at the deep end with the Charleville 2 Day, and came away with a 5th place from a bunch sprint. He matched that superb placing, bringing his ranking points to 8, just 2 off his inevitable upgrade to A3. 

  "After racing the Ned Flanagan the previous week, I had some experience to run off. This time I had the time to get my gear ready the night before so no messing around. Myself and Stephen Barry set off on schedule and arrived in good time, I was delighted. Barry acted as directeur sportif for the two of us representing the club in Ulster and had it nailed down. We did some riding of the course and looked at some sections. The course was looking exciting with long smooth decents, some swooping bends and lumpy roads so I was really looking forward to racing.

  "I was still very timid about having a good shot at the race after being blown to pieces last week on the first race. I learned my lesson and composed myself a lot more this time rather than going for fun, after all I was just hoping to finish the race! It can be difficult sometimes to know how the riders around you are and if the speed will just ramp up at any time. Half way through the last lap, I looked behind and realised we dropped good numbers. We were on the way to the finish line in a bunch of 20/30 and as we reached the final kilometres the group spaced out across the road ready to go. I tried to remain positioned on the outside, suddenly the speed ramps up, not feeling too strong I increase the pace to try stay close. Last 200 metres were on a ramp to the finish line, two riders ahead got some distance on me. I kept the momentum up and reefed my feet around for everything it's worth (first time racing with road pedals and they made all the difference, I must have discovered new muscles to use in the sprint as I awkwardly tried to wipe away some strain!). I couldn't feel anyone near me as the final metres to the line approached but I was expecting something, luckily It turned out well.

  "Big credit to Stephen who was on his way to riding out of A4 in Annaclone but unfortunately due to some messing behind him on the penultimate lap with some wheel on mech touching he was brought down amongst a few riders.

  "There was glimmers of sunshine, great countryside and good craic bai!"

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Mollaghan amongst the other prize winners in Banbride (photo thanks to Cycling Ulster)

On Sunday, many members were out in force in Dundalk in horrific conditions, but only Ciara Kinch made the podium - a terrific 3rd! Kinch has transferred to Towers CC as her primary racing colours for the 2015 season, though she remains a member of Orwell as well. We hope to have some coverage of her result and transfer soon! Kinch rode home in a solo feat behind the pairing of Clondalkin's Jennifer Bates, and 2014 winner Eve McCrystal, who successfully defended her title.

Kinch receiving her prize (photo thanks to Cuchulainn CC)


Ned Flanagan, Monasterevin (15/2/2015)

A3/Juniors Race

1 Seamus Sinnott (Wexford Wheelers)
4 Conor Murnane (Orwell Wheelers)


Travers Engineering Annaclone GP, Banbridge (21/2/2105)

A4 Race

1 Christopher McGlinchey (ChainReactionCycles)
5 Chris Mollaghan (Orwell Wheelers)


Traders' Cup, Dundalk (22/2/2015)

Women’s Race

1 Eve McCrystal (Garda CC)
3 Ciara Kinch (Towers CC)