Last weekend in Drogheda, while the seniors only faced one-day races, the youth of Orwell were fighting it out in the Rás na nÓg. Promoted by Drogheda Wheelers, it's a rare opportunity for the underage riders to experience a full-blown stage race. Orwell had a representative in each category in the shape of Seán Murnane, Uisneach Sheridan and Andrew Ryan, who was riding with the Leinster team.

Each of them penned a few words to describe their weekend. Have a read below, but first, huge thanks to Drogheda Wheelers for organising this event every year. Secondly, an equally massive thank you to the parents and helpers who coach Orwell's youth contingent week in and week out. Dave Mc, Jen Sheridan and Stephen Ryan are at the heart of this effort, but are ably assisted by many throughout the year.


Seán Murnane (U16)

I had a great experience in the Ras na Nog last weekend. The competition was very fierce but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was one of only thirteen finishers on the first stage and finished in the first group for all the other stages. Thanks to Dave McLoughlin and Jen Sheridan for all the advice.


Uisneach Sheridan (U14)

Rás na nÓg was a fantastic experience, the racing was tougher than anticipated, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Stage one was 10 laps of a 1.8km crit circuit which set a blistering pace for the start of the weekend, and with the high speeds and large amount of riders I found it difficult to stay with the bunch. I got distanced from the main bunch towards the end and found it difficult to catch back on. This unfortunately set me back quite far on the GC, but I proceeded to make progress through the ranks and improve my result on the second stage, a hilly 3 laps of a 6.6km circuit.

The next morning brought the next and final stage, the tensions were high, and so was the speed, many of the riders finding it too fast and dropping out the back very early on. It was a tough day, but proved to be good for me as I was again able to climb higher up the GC . I got a solid finish and am very pleased with my efforts from the weekends racing. I was very pleased with my result and it left me hungry for more stage racing to come! Huge thanks to all the race organizers and people who made it happen, it was a brilliant event.


And finally, from proud father Stephen Ryan is the tale of a beginner taking up a new sport, and taking it to the provincial level!

Andrew Ryan (U12)

Since joining Orwell 3 years ago Andrew has been attending the youth sessions under the tutelage of Dave Mc and Jen Sheridan religiously most Sundays, These sessions are a mixture of bike skills, games , time trials and handicap races. As well as the regular Corkagh Park sessions, there are road spins, MTB’ing and Easter egg hunts.

From a very early stage Andrew and Uisneach Sheridan became good friends and Andrew was impressed by the older lad's racing experience and wanted to give it a go. Last summer he dipped his toes in the waters and pinned his numbers on for the first time at the club run Roche GP where he finished 4th between the runaway winner Lara Gillespie.

This year it has picked up a notch and following a series of training camps for his age group run by Orwell and Moynalty CC he gave the Des Hanlon a go. As the bunch powered to the finish behind the outstanding U12 in Ireland , Odhrán Doogan from Errigal, Andrew moved up from 4th wheel to claim 2nd place after a well-timed sprint.

This success led to a nomination and selection for the Leinster Youth Academy team which was taking part in Ras na nÓg one of the country’s most prestigious youths stage race. Tommy McGowan and Mick Considine were the team managers and were extremely helpful in their advice to the youngsters .

The Leinster squad

The first day was much tougher than Andrew anticipated. Stage 1, a six lap 1.8km crit, was at a searing pace, with the first tight corner proving crucial to everything. Coming in 22nd out of 35 he managed to hang on and had the consolation that he wasn't lapped like many of the rest. After lunch, stage 2 was a 6.6km one lap race - this was a very tough course with a 2km climb to the finish. The wear from the track session on Friday and the morning session told as Andrew slipped a few places but was still standing. A good night’s rest and an inspirational pre-race team talk from Mick Considine, brandishing clippings from his racing days, reinvigorated the Leinster team. A more favourable flatter course and some acquired race sense – start at the front! – meant Andrew performed better than on the first day and came in 15th. Of as much interest was the teamwork and savviness of the Leinster team as Andrew, Chloe Wall (Navan) and Caoimhe O’Brien (Lakeside) rode well together over the last 2km, finishing together and crossed the line in the order which maximised the team's overall chanches. This tactic paid off handsomely as they took home the overall Team Prize and the envelopes that went with it.

As an introduction to stage racing this was a fabulous learning experience for Andrew, he made new friends on the team and among the other riders , the organisation by Drogheda Wheelers was super and the impetus and leadership provided by Leinster Cycling will always be remembered by Andrew, his team mates Chloe, Caoimhe, Aaron Treanor (Cuchulainn) and Andrew Kelly (Moynalty) (in photo) Mick, Chloe, Caoimhe, Andrew R, Andrew K. next three are u14, Aaron, U14)