The Easter holidays must've provided plenty of opportunities for resting or training, as the placers for the women this week included two teachers and student Naoise Sheridan! From Rás an Laois to the first round of the Women's Crit League, we've got it all below!

Laois is our first port of call, where Ossary CC put on races for the A3 and A4 men, and a dedicated women's race. Helen Horan was in attendance, having driven up from her native Kerry that morning. After cooking up a storm for the Kerry Group Rás Mumhan Orwell team, chef Horan got stuck into a warm-up before the race, and she takes it from there...

  "Feeling far too warm after my brisk warm-up in the Easter sunshine, I made a last minute decision to opt for my short-sleeved jersey instead of my thermal one. Following a frantic costume change in the car, I returned to my five Orwell teammates feeling a little frazzled! Seconds before we set off, Orla Hendron informed me that she and the others were going to lead me out in the sprint. I replied "do you think that's a good idea?!" Still very new to racing and the terminology that goes with it I wasn't even entirely sure what this plan entailed and was thinking "I hope I'll still be there for the sprint! "

  "So off we went through Rathdowney village and set out on the first of the two 28k laps. The conservative pace being set from the start was shaken up by a number of early attacks from my teammates Orla Hendron, my sister Ann Horan and Sandra Telford. A strong attack from Ciara Doogan Errigal Junior rider the mid-way through the first lap resulted in a surge that more or less halved the bunch. This acceleration in pace came at an unfortunate point in the race for Ann and Orla who had just been reeled back in from their efforts to get away. Orla fortunately managed to battle her way back onto the bunch within a few minutes but Ann was left to pay the price for her brave endeavours and spent the remainder of the race chasing the bunch with Naoise Sheridan and two others. That group of chasers came in just behind the bunch, giving Naoise the unplaced Junior prize.

  "The pace picked up as we approached the last 500m of the first lap where the prime was up for grabs. I had actually forgotten all about the prime and was thinking "what's all the excitement about? we still have another lap to do!" Ciara Doogan, winner of the recent Des Hanlon, unsurprisingly won this accolade despite the strong challenges of Waterford's Martina Cronin and our own Sandra Telford.

  "The second lap involved a lot of stagnation combined with bursts of acceleration on the few inclines that were on the course. I took a quick headcount at one point which told me that the bunch was now reduced to 11 riders with Orla Hendron being my sole remaining teammate. Lapses of concentration left me foolishly having to chase back onto the bunch a couple of times at the beginning of the second lap. I made an unconvincing attack at one point but biggest move of the race was when an unattached, relatively unknown rider Emear Moran broke away with Orla Hendron. The bunch were slow to react to this and while Orla was brought back, the bunch seemed unconcerned by Moran's gap which remained unclosed to the end of the race.

  "With about 10km to go Orla Hendron advised me to get off the front and told me that she was going to lead me out at the 500m mark . The bunch gradually gained momentum from about 6km to the finish line. Orla moved up at the 2k mark and like a puppet I followed her wheel. At this stage, I was glad that I didn't have to think for myself! The final few kilometres were on a gentle descent so we were eating up the metres pretty quickly. At 500m out Orla began to sprint as planned and I followed but it seemed that the whole bunch of 11 had the same idea and we weren't gaining any ground. At 300m I saw a gap to the right of Orla and pushed for the line. Crossing the line I was glad to see that there weren't too many riders in front of me and found out later that I'd taken 5th place. Thanks Orla :)"

The Orwells accept their prizes

It's great to see club members working together to ensure an Orwell gets up and secure a prize. As well as Hendron, Ann Horan did a lot of work on the front of Sheridan's group to get her home intact and give her legs a grilling in the process.

Tuesday night saw the opening round of the Orwell Crit League, in association with No oportunities to share the workload here, as it was a 10TT effort. Victory was taken by B2R triathlete Susanna Murphy, but less than 30" behind her was Aideen Keenan riding for DID Electrical to take 2nd. She also posted a PB of 24'56", an improvement of nearly a minute!

Top woman in the Orwell colours was Ann Horan in a fine 5th, also recording a PB - knocking half a minute off her previous to zip home in 26'30". Monica Marconi was hot on her heels in 6th with 26'36", while Naoise Sheridan was another to hit a PB of 26'59" to take a super 7th. That time saw her discount 1'26" on her prior personal record.

The final Orwell inside the top ten was Breda Horan in 9th, taking a massive 2'42" off her time from last year. What's even more inspirational is the jump that Horan made in the rankings - moving from 3rd from bottom last year to halfway up the field this season!

All times and records are thanks to Dave Mc, who also noted one other significant improvement on the night. Uisneach Sheridan was helping with timekeeping and results and took the chance to record a time of his own before the women got started, setting a time of 31'27", a whopping 7'52" off his last effort at the distance. A superb effort by all accounts, well done Uisneach!

Full times are available at, well done to Aishling O'Connor and Mary Brady on their efforts also!

The crit league continues in Corkagh Park next week, with two races on the card. Sign on is at 18.30 (closes at 18.50) and first group off at 19.00. Anyone who missed the TT this week, can still join in the league. Under 14 and under 16 girls are welcome to ride in the B race at Corkagh Park.


Rás an Laois, Laois (5/4/2015)

Women's race
1 Eimear Moran (Sundrive)
2 Ciara Doogan (Errigal CC)
3 Martina Cronin (Waterford CC)
4 Emma Walsh (Waterford CC)
5 Helen Horan (Orwell Wheelers)
6 Niamh Stephens (UCD)
7 Eileen Chawke (de Ronde van Cork)
8 Grace Young (de Ronde van Cork)

Unplaced Junior
Naoise Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers)


Orwell Crit League 2015 - R1: 10TT, Batterstown (7/4/2015)

1 Susanna Murphy, B2R, 24:23;
2 Aideen Keenan, DID, 24:56;
3 Catherine MacAteer, Garda, 25:22;
5 Ann Horan, Orwell, 26:30;
6 Monica Marconi, Orwell, 26:36;
7 Naoise Sheridan, Orwell, 26:59;
9 Breda Horan, Orwell, 27:55;
13 Aishling O'Connor, Orwell, 28:50;
17 Mary Brady, Orwell, 30:30;