This week was once again dominated by the Orwellian women, with Monica Marconi winning the Collins Christle Memorial race yesteray, adding to her Corkagh Park placing from Tuesday. Ciara Kinch made it two from two over two weekends, and Orla Hendron took a fine 4th place. Naoise Sheridan also took 4th in the Leinster Champs, while Philippe Bourdarias and Cormac Bracken picked up unplaced prizes in Kilmessan. Brian Ahern continued his comeback, with a decent 6th in the Beechmount Cup.

Yesterday's Collins Christle Memorial races were marred by crashes among large fields across each of the races, except the women's race, where a bunch of around 20 had no safety issues. It was an aggressive affair with plenty of attacking, which suited Monica Marconi perfectly. Having already taken 3rd from a break earlier this season in the Rás Clár, the Italian was away solo up the road when the commissaires had to neutralise the race due to a crash in the A4 bunch. After a ten minute stoppage, her lead was reinstated, and she pressed on to the line where she took the victory - one which was well earned despite the circumstances.

Marconi also placed last Tuesday in Corkagh Park, taking a superb 3rd place in the A race, and has done trojan work coordinating races in the Joe Daly Cycle’s Women’s National League. Along with organiser Orla Hendron and sponsor David Tansey - the husband and wife duo both active Orwell members - the league was a heavily Orwellian affair, read more about it at

The bunch came in together then, led by Sarah Piner (DID Electrical) with Ciara Kinch in the second spot to take a superb 3rd. Kinch had the honour of securing the only Orwell racing result last weekend, coming home 5th in the SERC GP, and is having a very solid season with a string of high placings. Orla Hendron is likewise a perennial placer, and was hot on Kinch's heels for a fine 4th.

Marconi up the road (photo thanks to Fergies Kilmessan)

Kinch and Hendron sprinting in behind Piner (photo thanks to Fergies Kilmessan)

In the men's A1/2/3 race, the large bunch meant the safest place was up the road, which is where Philippe Bourdarias went with four strong men, though he dropped back in the headwind to the shelter of the pack. That break was brought back with 20km to go, and shortly after that the race was neutralised for about ten minutes due to the A4 crash. Other men escaped up the road, but Bourdarias waited to use his strong kick to take the 4th unplaced A2 prize. He described the finish not so much as a "real sprint, just a long fast last kilometre".

Cormac Bracken's solid power came in useful for him when he was caught behind a minor tumble, but managed to regain contact with the bunch with the help of teammates. He then positioned himself well at the close to earn the 5th unplaced A3 prize. Though still without grading points, Bracken has seen his season steadily improve, with placings in the club league in the last few rounds - the highlight being the bronze medal for the road race champs.

Also in Kilmessan on Sunday, Naoise Sheridan was fighting to regain her youth Leinster Road Race title from 2011. She put in a great performance in the U14 race, blazing home in 4th place against all the boys. She was the only girl to place in any of the youth races, which is a excellent achievement in itself.

Elsewhere for the youth, Rachael Kaye-Mellor was competing in the 2013 UCI Juniors Track World Championships in Glasgow. Kaye-Mellor took part in several events - the Points and Scratch races, individual pursuit, and the 500TT - the latter two with Hayley Priestly also representing Ireland.

On Saturday, lest we forget Orwell's Rás legend, Brian Ahern failed to retain the Beechmount cup he won last year. With injury keeping him off the bike for the first half of the season, Ahern is slowly regaining the form that makes him one of the country's top riders. This race was not to be his inevitable comeback victory, but he did manage to maintain his 100% record of prizes won in open races this season as he took 6th place.

There was plenty of aggressive riding from the Orwell contingent in that race, among them Aidan Collins, Odhrán Connors, Brian McNally, Donnacha McCormack and Oisín Boland. However there was no Orwell rider in the dangerous breakaway that slipped away half-way through the 40km event and this was reeled in thanks to hard work from Eric Downey. James Davenport of South Dublin CC soloed to victory while Ahern was 5th in the frantic sprint for 2nd place which was not for the faint-hearted.

We didn't have a chance to report on last week's club league Team Time Trial, which saw teams of four do two laps of the lake on a thankfully dry evening in Brittas. The quickest on the course were the favourite team of Tom Blennerhassett, Eric Downey, Brian McArdle and Patrick O'Brien in a blistering 37'47". That was the second fastest winning time for that course, behind only the 2010 IRC team who did a 37'13". This despite the fact that McArdle, still recovering from his run of bad luck in the Suir Valley 3 Day, was dropped after a mere 10km. McArdle was reported to have no hard feelings about his teammates not coming back for him.

Unsurprisingly, second place went to the strong team of Jamie Busher, Gavin Dodd, Peter Gerrard and Liam Rowsome, with a swift 38'22". The calibre of their time can be judged by the fact that the third-placed team were over two minutes further back, at 40'38". That team was comprised of Oisín Boland, Cormac Bracken, Keith Harte and Brian McNally.

The other end of the field also produced some impressive times in context. The U14/U16 guys and girls (Timothy Kaye-Mellor, Conor Murnane, Sean Murnane and Naoise Sheridan) came last, but with a time that would have beaten half a dozen senior teams in almost any other year. Indeed, it was definitely the fastest ever "last placed" time, since this was the first year that human encyclopedia Dave Mc can recall in which no team went slower than 50 minutes.

The women also produced a superlative ride as well - the fastest previous on record was the 2010 Orwell team of Anne Dalton, Charlotte MacDonald, Lyndsey Rankin and Mags Donnelly, who did a 47'28". Orla Hendron, Charlotte MacDonald, Monica Marconi and Lucy Soden pummelled that time, with 45'43". As that was four fifths of our Rás na mBan team they'll obviously be well chuffed with that, particularly as there will be a TTT in this year's Rás.

On that note, Isabel Cogan should be extremely pleased to have clinched a spot on the Leinster squad for Rás na mBan. She is one of the best climbers on the women's circuit and stormed home for a top ten place at the National Championships, after winning the Boyne GP in early June. This will be just her second Rás na mBan, but she will be one to watch on the hills of Clare this September.

Corkagh Park Ladies Racing - R9

A Race
1 Louise Moriarty (LMNH)
2 Roisin Kennedy (Adamstown Cycling Team)
3 Monica Marconi (DTC Orwell Wheelers)

B Race
1 Emily Ann Doyle (Naas)
2 Helen Kerrane (St Tiernans)
3 Sarah Dennedy (DID Dunboyne)