The TTT round of the league went down to the wire this year, with only six seconds separating the top two teams after the handicaps were applied, while the hill climb championships were even tighter, Fionn Sheridan winning by less than a second from Brian McArdle.

The Team Time Trial round of the league was held in near perfect weather conditions, with the only real worry being a 2km section of gravel at the back of the lakes - known as road improvement in Wicklow. It had mostly bedded in by Thursday evening, but remained a worry for some.

With Dave Mc's handicapping system in place for the second year running, there was an air of suspense - two Limit teams with 10' headstarts took on the challenge, but no pure Scratch teams tried to convert the potential moral victory (fastest actual time) into first place after handicaps. There were plenty of variations in between, the advantages ranging from just 35" to 4'15".

Eight teams took part, with the fastest team on the night retaining their lead even after the handicaps were applied. Kilian Doyle, Brian McArdle, Brian McNally and Pat O'Brien clocked in at 42'45", reduced to 41'10" due to Doyle's SL category. That marked a hat-trick for McArdle - fastest on real time, fastest on handicap, and he wrapped up overall league victory with two rounds remaining.

Just six seconds back in the standings with 41'16" were the Swift Murnanes - Conor Murnane, David Murnane, Seán Murnane and David Swift. They put in perhaps the most impressive performance of the night, second in the placings, but second on real time as well (44'21"). That real time beat a mostly Scratch team of strong testers by 2". Given that the average age of their finishers is 18 years old, and two of them were riding on Junior gears it was a fantastic performance from them.

3rd place went to one of the pure Limit teams - the Pottering Horans (do families work better together in TTTs?). Coming in at 51'30", their calculated time was 41'30", less than 15" behind 2nd place. The collective performance of Ann Horan, Breda Horan, Helen Horan and Luke Potter was enough to defeat the mainly SS men and women of Stephen Barry, Aidan Hammond, David Hendron, Ciara Kinch and David Maher, who took 4th with 42'50" (actual time of 45'10").

The Horans and Luke Potter take a turn (Photo thanks to Arnold Byrne)

5th went to a mixed category team of Daragh Boyd, Mark Holland, Julian Moore, Stephen Rowan and Matt Williams, reducing an actual time of 46'26" to 43'41". The final points were won by Valdis Andersons, Jamie Busher, Aideen Keenan and Dick O'Brien, who were 3rd on real time (44'23"), but could only manage 6th with an adjusted time of 43'48".

7th went to the unlucky Jules Cantwell, Ed O'Mahony, Ken O'Neill and Graham Scanlon, who lost O'Mahony to a puncture early on. The final placing was taken by the youth team of Ross Frehill, Uisneach Sheridan, Dan Coulcher and Gavin Dodd, who did well to keep together around the whole circuit, finishing with a solid time of 56'23".

All six placing teams were separated by about 2.5 minutes, with gaps of 6" and 7" in cases. This is quite a feat over a rolling 28km course, and a sign of just how precise the handicapping system is. Chapeau to Dave's mathematical skills!

Two weeks in a row, the club were lucky to be able to race in fine conditions. The venue for R20 was the Devil's Elbow by Glencullen, and over sixty riders - including non-racing members - turned out to race uphill against the clock.

In the end when the provisional results were announced it came down to less than a second, and 10". 10" was the extra time defending champ Brian McArdle claimed he was held at the start line, and 0.61" was the gap to Fionn Sheridan even if the timekeepers confirmed the time deduction. Bryan Geary would have a medal, but didn't know what colour, while Stephen Barry's place on the podium was in doubt.

Paul Brosnan, timekeeper at the start line, confirmed the extra 10", and McArdle slotted into silver. Congratulations should be copious for Sheridan, who has come back from injury and has been focussing on the track of late - both racing and as commissaire - where the kilo undoubtedly aided his performance on the 500m climb.

Sheridan in the saddle in the final metres (Photo thanks to Dan Coulcher)

The women's competition also had its share of controversy, when newcomer and non-racer Emily Brick emerged fastest from the starting blocks with 2'04". She pipped Aideen Keenan by less than half a second, leaving the defending hill climb champion suitably impressed. However, as non-league participants are not eligible for championship events, Keenan kept her title, but Brick will retain bragging rights! Ciara Kinch clinched the silver in 2'06", with Ann Horan claiming her third medal of the season just a second behind Kinch.

Stephen Barry lost his medal, but topped Semi-scratch and beat nearly all of Scratch, only 1.2" off the podium. Similarly notable was Stephen Rowan in 6th overall - good enough for S points, though he remains SS. The Scratch points went to Patrick O'Brien in 5th, Brian Ahern in 7th, and Bernard English in 8th. How English managed to score points while marshalling remains a mystery...

Behind Barry and Rowan in Semi-scratch was David Maher, Seán Murnane, Fionn Griffin and Ed O'Mahony. Topping Semi-limit was Sean Higgins, who also won the 10TT. Just 3" behind him was Daniel McElroy, and 2" further back was Colin Caesar. Paul Perry, Daragh Boyd and Matt Williams were all within 10" of Higgns, so a close category battle there. They also all got the better of Dave Mc's single speed light-as-a-feather custom job.

Kevin Sammon, who hadn't actually taken part in the league beyond his marshalling duties, made his debút by topping Limit, and also pushing past all of Semi-limit. There'll be an upgrade there! Dan Coulcher won 2nd from James O'Callaghan, who edged out David Claes. Niall Kieran and Stephen Heary were tied to the hundredth of a second for 5th in Limit, and so are both awarded 8 points.

Uisneach Sheridan was fastest youth rider, with Lorcan Cattle and Killian O'Brien on the other steps of the podium - well done lads!

This year the Leisure times were included amongst the racers, and there were some very competitive times in there - Andrew Duignan would've scored points in Semi-scratch, while Darragh Connolly wasn't far off the same. Hopefully we'll see those faces alongside Emily Brick and more on the start line in Pine Forest next year!

C Murnane suffering on the hairpins (Photo thanks to Paul Tansey)


Orwell League R19: Team Time Trial (6/8/2015)

RankName  Time    Adj. time  
1st Brian McArdle 42:45 41:10
  Brian McNally    
  Killian Doyle    
  Pat O'Brien    
2nd Conor Murnane 44:21 41:16
  David Murnane    
  David Swift    
  Sean Murnane    
3rd Ann Horan 51:30 41:30
  Breda Horan    
  Helen Horan    
  Luke Potter    
4th Aidan Hammond 45:10 42:50
  Ciara Kinch    
  David Hendron    
  David Maher    
  Stephen Barry    
5th Darragh Boyd 46:26 43:41
  Julian Moore    
  Mark Holland    
  Matt Williams    
  Stephen Rowan    
6th Aideen Keenan 44:23 43:48
  Dick O'Brien    
  Jamie Busher    
  Valdis Andersons    


Full results in the forum


Orwell League R20: Hill Climb Champs (13/8/2015)

Men's Medals
G Fionn Sheridan - 1'25.26"
S Brian McArdle - 1'25.87"
B Bryan Geary - 1'27"

Women's Medals
G Aideen Keenan - 2'04"
S Ciara Kinch - 2'06"
B Ann Horan - 2'07"

1 Kevin Sammon
2 Dan Coulcher
3 James O'Callaghan
4 David Claes
5 Niall Kieran
6 Stephen Heary

1 Sean Higgins
2 Daniel McElroy 
3 Colin Caesar
4 Paul Perry
5 Daragh Boyd
6 Matt Williams

1 Stephen Barry
2 Stephen Rowan
3 David Maher
4 Seán Murnane
5 Fionn Griffin
6 Ed O'Mahony

1 Fionn Sheridan
2 Brian McArdle
3 Bryan Geary
4 Patrick O'Brien
5 Brian Ahern
6 Bernard English

Again, full results available in the forum.