Eric Downey’s first victory against A1 opposition in Saturday's Mick Lally Memorial capped an excellent weekend of results gathering by Orwell’s highly motivated racing battalion as the 2013 season got under way in earnest.

To club colleagues already aware of his mercurial talent, Downey’s classy win in the Dublin Wheelers promotion in Summerhill, Co Meath almost had an air of inevitability about it as he ticked another box on his lightspeed race to his first category licence.

After soloing in ahead of an 11 rider A2 group that detached itself from the main bunch early in the 88km thrash around the popular Dorey’s Forge circuit, Downey is now just a handful of points from joining the top category of riders who never got sight of him in Saturday’s handicap.

Downey receives his prize

Afterwards he paid tribute to the team work of Diarmuid Collins who policed the chasers as Downey powered towards the line to finish off his late race bid for glory. Collins bagged the first unplaced A2 award and both riders look in good shape to make their An Post Rás debuts with the Orwell in May.

Meanwhile the Orwell representation in A1/A2 races will soon surely be swelled by Brian McArdle who went within millimetres of victory in the bunch gallop that decided the Ian Gallahar Memorial A3 race on the same programme.

McArdle was closing fast on Shane O’Hara as the line approached, the latter having pulled his left foot out and thereby reminding the Irish racing scene of the critical importance of replacing worn shoe plates!

McArdle and O'Hara cross the line

McArdle’s first A3 points were long overdue and, after an injury interrupted winter training, the third year racer is still at the foothills of realising his physical potential.

Likewise John Twomey surprised no one with his second place finish in the Dublin Wheelers Grand Prix A4 race as he embarks on a serious comeback to open racing, a scene he last graced as a junior rider.

Twomey seals second place

Twomey is now just a fifth place finish away from the move to A3 which his winter training form would suggest would not be a problematic elevation.

Anne Dalton also put in a strong showing to finish with the sprinting bunch, but a lack of women's prizes meant she went home empty-handed.

Many of Saturday’s heroes were back in action in Sunday’s Navan Road Club Cycleways Grand Prix in Navan where Jamie Busher scored an impressive fifth place at the end of a tough 85km through North County Meath.

Another fifth place will be enough to carry Busher up to A3.

Eddie Lynch cramped in the run to the line at the end of the A3 race but still had enough grit and momentum to annexe the second unplaced Veteran prize and demonstrate the value of his strong winter of training.

The second junior prize went to Orwell’s Darragh Long riding in the colours of the new Nicolas Roche Performance Cycling Team.


Mick Lally Memorial (A1/A2)

1 Eric Downey (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
2 Eoin Morton (UCD CC)
3 Francis Gibson (SEENG)
4 Liam Ryan (Blarney)
5 Brian Harte (Limerick CC)
6 Enda Connolly (Garda CC)

Unplaced A2s

1 Diarmuid Collins (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
2 Geoff Sheehan (SDCC)
3 Conor Hanna (North Down)


Ian Gallahar Memorial (A3)

1 Shane O’Hara (Limerick CC)
2 Brian McArdle (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
3 Ray Cullen (Iverk Produce Carrick)
4 Dave O’Connor (Park Wheelers)
5 Hughie McMahon (DID Dunboyne)
6 Ciaran Campbell (Drogheda)


Dublin Wheelers GP (A4)

1 Kieran Harte (Shannonside)
2 John Twomey (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
3 Joseph Breheny (UCD CC)
4 Ferghal Regan (Headstrong)
5 John Donnelly (Lucan)
6 Shane Dillon (Adamastown)


Cycleways Cup - A3 Race

1 Dylan Foley (Nicolas Roche Performance)
2 Thomas Fallon (Vacansoleil)
3 Brian Reynolds (Staggs Lucan)
4 Daniel Stewart (Audi East Antrim)
5 Jeff Robinson (Bray Wheelers)
6 Fintan Ryan (Nicolas Roche Performance)


1 Jason Prendergast (Cunga CC)
2 Mark Downey (Nicolas Roche Performance)
3 Darragh Long (Nicolas Roche Performance)


1 Martin Gilfest (Swords CC)
2 Eddie Lynch (DTC Orwell Wheelers)


A4 Race

1 Val Gargan (Cuchulainn CC)
2 Paul Caffrey (Blanch Wheelers)
3 Brendan Steward (Lacan)
4 Damien Foley (Donegal Bay)
5 Jamie Busher (DTC Orwell Wheelers)
6 Stephen McGovern (Navan Avonmore)