The long anticipated road race round of the Orwell Women’s Crit League featured a powerful rainstorm last night, as Towers CC’s Lisa Darley-Ronan took the win from teammate Eimear O’Reilly in a race dominated by the B group.

For many it marked their débuts on the road, and it will be a night to remember. Though it started in the dry, with hardly a threatening cloud in the sky, that changed within a few kilometres, as the riders were inundated by a extremely heavy cloudburst.

A two group chase pursuit was the order of the evening, with the 12 strong B group given a three minute headstart over a similar sized A bunch. With a few strong riders chasing hard and trying aggressive digs, the gap tumbled by thirty seconds in the first 3km, but as the heavens opened and the rain began to fall, the front group hit the circuit and began to work well together.

With apocalyptic conditions saturating the riders to the skin, some began to suffer and abandon, while others flourished and lit hte blue touch paper. Orwell’s Orla Hendron took a big turn on the front during the first run in to the finish line, before the A move of the night went away - league leader Sandra Fitzgerald (Garda CC), DID Electrical’s Anne Dalton and Ciara Kinch of host club Orwell Wheelers.

They attacked across the line, pulling out 20 seconds by the sharp turn at Manor Kilbride, but that status quo remained as the riders completed another lap - much of the well-oiled B group persevering in the dreadful deluge, the trio gradually closing them down, and a small bunch languishing at the rear. By the final crossing of the bridge, Fitzgerald, Dalton and Kinch were within 30 seconds of the leaders - with 5km to go, it was doubtful they’d bridge to the front in time.

The race culminated in a fractured sprint up the finishing drag. Not for the first time in the league, Towers CC scored a superb 1-2, but for once it was Lisa Darley-Ronan who got the better of teammate Eimear O’Reilly. While Darley-Ronan is the current leader of the B category, this is her maiden win - her overall ranking comes from an impressive consistency. While this win will widen the points difference, it will remain tight at the top between the Towers duo who have taken the B category by storm this year.

3rd place went to Helen Kerrane (St Tiernan’s CC), recently returned from a monumental outing in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and 3D Tri’s Anne Claffey improved on her placing last week to take 4th this time. 

Sarah Dennedy’s form has significantly improved since the first round of the league - the DID Dunboyne member’s effort in the 10TT marked her first ride of the season, but she’s clearly come on since then, coming home 5th. Naoise Sheridan didn’t quite match her 4th place in Corkagh Park last week, but nonetheless should be pleased with a fine 6th all things considered.

Naas CC’s Emily-Anne Doyle was the last of the B riders to feature in the overall, earning herself a solid 7th. The three chasers managed to just make the catch before the line, but only Dalton got across the chalk quickly enough to grab a prize, the final overall spot of 8th.

A night for the hard women of Irish racing, the evening will be remembered for the monsoon that dominated the proceedings, before the B group parted the seas to soak up the placings. And never before has Jen Sheridan’s hot tea been such a welcome relief!

Thanks to all the marshals who stood at junctions in the rain, and to the lead car drivers who didn’t point and laugh at the marshals too much. And to the ambulance staff, and of course the organisers, who make it all happen. Next week is the final round, a return to Batterstown for a repeat 10TT - to decide the final placings and allow riders to see how their abilities have improved over the six weeks.

All photos below thanks to Brendan Culleton, more on Facebook.


Round 5: Brittas Road Race (7/5/2014)

1 Lisa Darley-Ronan (Towers CC)
2 Eimear O’Reilly (Towers CC)
3 Helen Kerrane (St Tiernan’s CC)
4 Anne Claffey (3D Tri)
5 Sarah Dennedy (DID Dunboyne)
6 Naoise Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers)
7 Emily-Anne Doyle (Naas CC)
8 Anne Dalton (DID Electrical)


The groups together on the start line.

The three chasers - Dalton, Fitzgerald and Kinch.

Towers' sprint finish never looked in doubt.

Sarah Dennedy shows her relief at finishing an arduous race.

Post-race refreshments.