Claire shines again in the Sunny South East!

Claire McIlwaine, Phoenix CC, receives her prize for victory in National League Round 4
Claire McIlwaine, Phoenix CC, receives her prize for victory in National League Round 4

Claire McIlwaine, Phoenix CC, made it three wins out of four league races, when she sprinted in to take victory in National League Round 4, Deenside Wheelers Cup race, in Kilkenny earlier this afternoon.

Today’s Joe Daly Cycles sponsored Women’s National League Round 4 was two laps of the Deenside Cup 35km circuit, which includes a challenging, leg-sapping 6km climb on each lap.


Orla Hendron (Orwell Wheelers) attacked from the gun and was shortly joined by Nessa Rochford (De Ronde van Cork), Jessica Lamb (St Tiernans) and Orla Walsh (Orwell). Roisin Kennedy (Arcane Adamstown) took off in a solo chase and held the gap at 30 seconds but never quite made it up to the leaders on the road.

The gap from the 4 leaders on the road back to the main bunch stretched out to over 5 minutes as the race entered Ballyragget, and the approach to the climb, for the first time.

On that first ascent the bunch split completely with a several groups emerging. The chasing group was now made up of  riders four of whom were Orwell along with Claire McIlwaine (Phoenix CC) and Fiona Guihen (Irish Centre for Cycling).

Nessa Rochford and Orla Hendron looking happy with their lead!
Nessa Rochford and Orla Hendron looking happy with their lead!

Roisin Kennedy was caught at the start/finish line going into the second lap, and Jessica Lamb and Orla Walsh were caught shortly afterwards. The chase was on in the bunch to bring back Orla Hendron and Nessa Rochford, with most of the work being done by Claire McIlwaine and Fiona Guihen.

Ultimately the two leaders weren’t caught until the descent, at about the 5km to go sign. Things stalled for a while then, but soon Orla Hendron took to the front to drill it home for Orwell Wheelers.

However, when it came down to the bunch sprint, Phoenix CC rider Claire McIlwaine proved the strongest, taking the win from Aideen Keenan in second, and her Orwell Wheelers teammate, Beth McCluskey in third.

Orwell Wheelers were particularly well represented on the road today, with eight of their number taking the start line in Castlecomer, and 5 of these finishing in the top ten!


  1. Claire McIlwaine – Phoenix CC
  2. Aideen Keenan – Orwell Wheelers
  3. Beth McCluskey – Orwell Wheelers
  4. Fiona Guihen – Irish Centre for Cycling
  5. Michelle Geoghegan – Orwell Wheelers
  6. Nessa Rochford – de Ronde van Cork
  7. Ciara Kinch – Orwell Wheelers
  8. Orla Hendron – Orwell Wheelers
  9. Michelle O’Halloran – Lakeside Wheelers
  10. Monica Marconi – Orwell Wheelers

First Junior: Eimear Harrison – Westport Covey Wheelers

Claire McIlwaine sprints to victory!
Claire McIlwaine sprints to victory!

Claire McIlwaine’s victory today sees her top the Women’s National League table with 50 points. In second place after Round 4 is Aideen Keenan, with 42 points. Women’s National League Round 5, Emyvale CC‘s Grand Prix race takes place in a fortnight’s, on Sunday 22nd May…. we’ll preview that race next week.

Though we don’t normally do requests, special thanks today to…. Stephen O’Shea of Orwell Wheelers who kindly took on the role of Commissaire driver for the women’s race, when the designated Commissiare had a car mechanical that delayed him getting to the race!

It then fell to Rás na mBan Race Director, Valerie Considine to do “Acting Commissaire” until the man himself could step in, go Val!! Thank you also to Eimear’s father, Anthony Harrison, for doing neutral service for our race! And of course, thank you to Deenside Wheelers for coaxing the sun to come out today, and for running a great race 🙂

Race action reported by Valerie Considine, and action photos with thanks to Niamh Stephens!