It was a fine evening in Corkagh Park for the first criterium of the Orwell Wheelers Women's Crit League, and a fine turnout to boot! Eimear O'Reilly led home a host of newcomers, while Sandra Fitzgerald beat breakaway companion Anne Dalton to win the A race.

The organisers couldn't have asked for better weather, with the sun and lack of strong winds making for a safer race and encouraging a sizeable crowd of about 30. With many attempting their first outing on the bike in a competitive environment, Corkagh Park offered a safe haven away from vehicular traffic and road furniture like kerbs or potholes.

There were two races run over the course of the evening, with the B race playing host to the newcomers and less active riders. Though there were no successful attacks, a couple of the stronger engines put in big pulls to up the pace - Helen Kerrane (St Tiernan's) was frequently on the front on the finishing ramp, and Caroline Martinez (DID Electrical) managed to shell a few weaker riders out the back with one particularly strong effort.

A move from Sarah Dennedy (DID Dunboyne) around the three quarter mark was ill-fated, with a large bunch of about fifteen riders staying together at the front until an inevitable bunch sprint finish. The newly formed Towers CC took a well-earned 1-2 at the line, with Eimear O'Reilly pipping Lisa Darley Ronan.

The girls were on a high after the race - the Clondalkin-based club are planning on entering a team in Rás na mBan this year under the watchful eye of Tony Kavanagh, and with tonight's results as a starting platform, O'Reilly and Darley Ronan are well on the way to a great performance in that event.

Martinez and Kerrane reaped the rewards of their earlier work to take 3rd and 4th respectively, with 3D Triathlete Sorcha McCann in 5th. League sophomore Emily-Anne Doyle (Naas CC) took 6th, with Rás na mBan veteran Dennedy in 7th. Mountain biker Paula Keohan finished off the points in 8th.

The A race contained many familiar faces on the startline, with Orwell Wheelers in the vast majority. However, they missed the move of the night as nearly from the gun two of the most successful riders of the bunch broke away - last year's Joe Daly Cycles National League winner Anne Dalton (DID Electrical), and former Orwell Wheelers Women's Crit League winner Sandra Fitzgerald (Garda/Richie's CC).

They quickly pulled out ten seconds, but an Orwell-dominated six-strong chasing group pegged that gap for about four laps, before the elastic snapped and the duo quickly pulled nearly 30 seconds ahead, holding that until the close.

The two-up sprint was won by a couple of bikelengths by Fitzgerald, with Dalton rolling over for 2nd. Behind them the gallop unfolded as an Orwell contest, with top sprinter Sandra Telford easily taking the top spot. Track champ Orla Hendron beat her protégé Rachael Kaye-Mellor, while Ned Flanagan winner Aideen Keenan beat newcomer Ann Horan for 6th, with Roisín Kennedy of Adamstown CT taking the last of the points.

We'll return to Corkagh Park for next week's round three, hope to see you there!


Orwellians enjoying their evening

Paula Keohan in the jersey

B bunch

O'Reilly and Darley Ronan sprinting for the line

Startline of the A race

Fitzgerald and Dalton in the break

All photos thanks to Siobhán McNamara (more photos from her on her Facebook pageand Brendan Culleton (more photos from him on his Facebook page.


Round 2: Corkagh Park Criterium (15/4/2014)

B Race
1 Eimear O’Reilly (Towers CC)
2 Lisa Darley Ronan (Towers CC)
3 Caroline Martinez (DID Electrical)
4 Helen Kerrane (St Tiernan’s CC)
5 Sorcha McCann (3D Triathlon)
6 Emily-Anne Doyle (Naas CC)
7 Sarah Dennedy (DID Dunboyne)
8 Paula Keohan (MAD)

A Race
1 Sandra Fitzgerald (Garda/Richie’s CC)
2 Anne Dalton (DID Electrical)
3 Sandra Telford (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
4 Orla Hendron (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
5 Rachael Kaye-Mellor (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
6 Aideen Keenan (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
7 Ann Horan (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
8 Roisín Kennedy (Adamstown CT)