The 2013 racing season opened today in Monasterevin with the very well attended Ned Flanagan, organised by Newbridge CC. Orwell riders were out in force, with Eric Downey grabbing an unplaced prize.

Nearly 230 riders took part in the full handicap race, which pitted A4 riders - some in their first ever race - against seasoned professionals like Aaron Buggle (Rapha Condor) and Philip Lavery (ex-Node4 Giordana).

The pace was high was high from the starting line, with the A3s only managing to catch the A4s just before the 40km mark, and some of the A1/2s joining shortly afterwards. There was had been some confusion in the A1/2 bunch earlier - it had split, and the first group took a wrong turn, but quickly corrected it. The second half of the A1/2s also went awry (including the unlucky Dan Whiting and Odhran Connors), and thus were awarded prizes as a separate race. Some compensation for the fail group.

The combined bunch in the main race frequently hit speeds of 50kmph on the wide open roads of Kildare. With about 5km to go, disaster struck - a rider came down in the middle of the bunch. One Orwell rider was right behind and couldn't avoid being caught up in the ensuing mess. He was thankfully fine, just a bit bruised.

Several other Orwell riders were held up by the same crash, and missed out on their chance to contest the sprint. Not so Eric Downey, who had been toward the front of the bunch. He motored on with a group of about thirty, and came in with the sprint to grab third unplaced A2. The relative newcomer scored a series of placings last season, rapidly rising from A4 to A2. Based on today, it won't be long before he's rubbing shoulders in the A1 bunch.

With so many challengers keeping the speed consistently high throughout the race, it was no mean feat to get in the prizes, well done Eric! Indeed, anyone who was competing today and managed to hang in for most of the distance deserves congratulations, particularly those for whom it was their first race. A baptism of fire!

The next opportunity for competing in Leinster comes next Sunday in Dundalk, at the Traders' Cup. We hear it's a new pan flat run of about 75km, and again, a full handicap.


1 Barry Meade (Planet Tri)
2 Eoin Morton (UCD CC)
3 Robin Kelly (Aqua Blue)
4 Paidi O’Brien (Planet Tri)
5 Aaron Buggle (Rapha Condor)
6 Shane O’Hara (Limerick CC)

Unplaced A2s

Barry Griffin (Comeragh CC)
Aaron O’Donoghue (SDCC)
Eric Downey (Orwell CC)

Unplaced A3s

Joe Christian (Bray Wheelers)
John Dorris (Epic MTB)
Mark Mearns (Lucan CC)
Brian Reynolds (Lucan CC)
Alan Brosnan (Dublin Wheelers CC)

Unplaced A4s

Niall Whelan (Unattached)
Paul Smith (Waterford Racing Club)
John Brosnan (Killarney CC)
Joseph Breheny (UCD CC)
Hugh Flannery (DMG)

Prime at Flanagan’s Rest

Conor Doyle (Swords CC)

Some photos available at