On the women's open scene, Monica Marconi scored an emphatic victory in Wexford for the final round of the National League, while Ciara Kinch came home a fine 5th. Kinch then went on to notch up Gold in the Leinster Hill Climb Champs, with Aideen Keenan in silver a mere 7" behind her. And Orla Hendron displayed rude form at the Track Champs to take home two national medals, while Rachel Glendon also won silver in the National Middle Distance Triathlon Champs.

The final round of the 2014 Joe Daly Cycles' National League took place alongside the Stafford Wholesale Wexford 2 Day, running concurrently with the final stage. The women had 78.5km to race, and while Amy Brice (CRC) cannot be dislodged from the top, the mid-table rankings were tight, with room for our own Ciara Kinch and Aideen Keenan to improve their lot. And of course, a victory on the day would be a desirable result for any rider's palmares.

While Orla Hendron was the first to make a move that held for a while - getting the gap out to 50" at one point - she was reeled back in by the bunch, despite the presence of husband and sponsor Dave Tansey in the Orwell support car. Not deterred, she launched herself again for a brave effort, again getting 40" on her chasers at the maximum, before being brought back.

Keenan and Anne Dalton (DID Electrical) were the next to attack, a pairing that has worked well together in Corkagh Park, but on this occasion the peloton were keeping them on a tight leash, and the move came to nought.

Monica Marconi, a breakaway specialist, bided her time until the initial flurry of attacks had ebbed, then stole a march on the peloton, stealing away with perfect timing. Marconi has taken many results in breakaway moves, most notably a win last year in Kilmessan.

Wexford would turn out to be another victory, but Marconi first had to battle 25km out front solo in appalling conditions. Wind and rain lashed the Italian racer as she eked out a gap of over two minutes on a reluctant bunch reluctant to work and chase in such inclement weather.

While Tansey and the Orwell support hadn't aided Hendron, updates from the car helped spur Marconi onward to the win, and she was grateful for the help and company throughout. She eventually finished with a lead of over two minutes on the pack.

Kinch - not noted for her sprint - put in a great performance in the bunch gallop to take a fabulous 5th. That was enough to make her top Orwell in the overall placings, also taking a fantastic 5th.

Keenan didn't feature in the final placings in Wexford, but her strong showing throughout the season bought her an excellent 8th in the overall placings. Marconi's late burst earned her enough points to sneak inside the top ten, a just reward for her aggression on the road and her able organisational skills off it!

The National League was another success in 2014, with many Orwell women making their open racing début in one of the events. As well as participation, it's always fantastic to see Dave Tansey at Joe Daly Cycles sponsoring the event once more. It's instrumental in helping women's cycling grow in Ireland, and we dearly hope it will be back for 2015!

Some of the overall placers from the National League, with Ciara Kinch, and Monica Marconi at right (photo thanks to Caroline Martinez)

Elsewhere in women's racing, Ciara Kinch continued a great Orwell run to claim gold in the Leinster Hill Climb Championship. Following on from Rachel Glendon (2012) and Isabel Cogan (2013), the strongwoman powered up the climb in 05:49. Hot on her heels - and like Kinch, continuing a strong streak for the year - was Aideen Keenan, only 7" behind to net a solid silver with 05:56. Both those times were quicker than the previous top times of 2012 and 2013, so either a fast night or the women are improving year on year.

The women's hill climb podium, with Kinch and Keenan (thanks to James Kinch)

And more on the medal front, former National Hill Climb Champ Rachel Glendon has been focussing on triathlon of late, and securing a significant silver in the Lost Sheep event in Kenmare, which was serving as the Irish National Middle Distance Championships 2014. After leading the race for 80km, she was passed only in the final kilometres, coming home less than a minute down on the winner. A superb performance that saw her set the female bike record for the course and top her category.

And finally! Two more medals for the club, with Orla Hendron taking two last weekend on the National Track Champs in Sundrive Road. While there were some fine performances from the male Orwell competitors, Hendron was the only female representative of the club, and the only medallist, first scoring silver in the individual pursuit, and following with a hard earned Bronze in the Scratch race in the afternoon.

It's a feat that is made all the more impressive by the fact that she was competing in the Elite championships rather than the vets, and so took those placings from a field of women more than 20 years her junior. Given that she is nowadays concentrating more on developing the junior girls than her own training it truly is special that she is still taking medals at this level.

Former Orwell Lydia Boylan grasped gold in both the Scratch and 500TT events, displaying the talent which saw her selected to represent Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games over the summer.

Update: also on the track for the women, Naoise Sheridan earned an overall bronze in the junior mixed male/female cat at the close of the Autumn Track League in Sundrive. That's yet another medal for the rising track star!

Hendron on the podium collecting her bronze (photo thanks to Dave Tansey)

The season is winding to a close for most now, but the women will face their toughest race of year in less than two weeks, with the Rás na mBan fast approaching. The Orwell team of Ann Horan, Aideen Keenan, Ciara Kinch and Claire McEntee will race alongside guest rider Lydia Gurley. We wish them the best of luck, and will keep you posted on their progress!


Joe Daly Cycles Women's National League R7, Camaross (23/8/2014)

1 Monica Marconi (Orwell Wheelers)
2 Michelle O'Halloran (Lakeside Wheelers)
3 Karen Robinson (Garda CC)
4 Anne Dalton (DID Electrical)
5 Ciara Kinch (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Sonja Mahony (Lakeside Wheelers)
7 Eimear O'Reilly (Towers CC)
8 Lorraine Mullarkey (Emyvale CC)


Joe Daly Cycles Women's National League 2014

1 Amy Brice (Chain Reaction Cycles)
2 Michelle O'Halloran (Lakeside Wheelers)
3 Sarah Piner (DID Electrical)
4 Anne Dalton (DID Electrical)
5 Ciara Kinch (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Niamh Stephens (UCD)
7 Aisling Flanagan (Lakeside Wheelers)
8 Aideen Keenan (Orwell Wheelers)
9 Sonja O'Mahony (Lakeside Wheelers)
10 Monica Marconi (Orwell Wheelers)


Leinster Hill Climb Champs 2014 (Women), Jenkinstown Hill (28/8/2014)

1 Ciara Kinch (Orwell Wheelers) 05:49
2 Aideen Keenan (Orwell Wheelers) 05:56
3 Maire Claffey (UCD) 06:18


Natinal Track Champs, Eamonn Ceannt Stadium (30-31/8/2014)

Women’s Pursuit
G Susie Mitchell (Sundrive Track Team) 4:16:18
S Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers) 4:27:93
B Roisin Kennedy (Arcane Adamstown) 4:30:99

Women’s Scratch
G Lydia Boylan (Pasta Montegrappa)
S Susie Mitchell (Sundrive Track Team)
B Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers)

Full results at trackcycling.ie.


Lost Sheep – Half Distance Irish Tri Champs 2014, Kenmare (30/8/2014)

 NameTimeCat (Pos)Gender (Pos)SwimT1BikeT2Run
G Aileen Flynn 4:46:16 Ages 35 - 39 (1) Female (1) 32:16 01:55 02:36:26 03:09 01:32:29
S Rachel Glendon 4:47:03 Ages 30 - 34 (1) Female (2) 28:35 01:26 02:31:57 02:40 01:42:24
B Eimear Fitzmaurice 4:49:14 Ages 30 - 34 (2) Female (3) 31:28 01:50 02:36:10 02:49 01:36:56

Full results at irishtriathlon.com.