Junior Birchall Blasts to Victory in Bunclody

16 year old Emily Birchall of NRPT saw off stiff competition to take victory in the Eddie Tobin Memorial when a break of 7 riders came to the line to contest the sprint in the penultimate round of the Joe Daly’s National League promoted by Slaney CC. A small but strong field of 17 riders signed on in glorious sunshine, numbers were down due to the International track GP in Dublin and National champs the weekend before.

Orwell’s Rachel Glendon jumped from the bunch immediately but was reeled in and counter attacked by Emma Walsh and Nessa Rochford. Orwell’s Marconi and Glendon tried to escape on the flat road but everything was covered and the bunch stayed together for the first lap with nothing getting away. Mc Crystal took to the front and similar to her superb performance in the national champs, she drilled it up the 4 km drag halving the group.  A kick from Montague and Young at the top of the climb reinforced the break which also included Guihen, Birchall, Claffey and O’Halloran.

The breakaway of 7 immediately got to work to get an advantage, riding hard and honestly until the bunch hit the hill for the 3rd time, when fireworks started. Birchall, Young and Mc Crystal all tried to get away on the hill but all moves were quickly reeled in. Back on the flat again and the 7 rode together into the wind. On the final hill the race practically came to a standstill as no one wanted to make the first move, all eyes were on double national silver medal winner Mc Crystal, who got frustrated by the slow pace and motored into action to lead the break up the hill for the final time with no one offering to share the work load. Birchall and Montague poised themselves in perfect position waiting for their chance to pounce, with 200m to the line Birchall took off like a rocket and comfortably claimed victory in Bunclody. Montague and Claffey took 2nd and 3rd respectively with Mc Crystal in 4th.


Claire McIlwaine keeps the Joe Daly’s leader jersey with a slender lead over Orla Montague. The top 5 are very close together. The Final Round is the Mullingar GP on the 17th July.

  1. Emily Birchall NRPT
  2. Orla Montague Dublin Wheelers
  3. Maire Claffey UCD
  4. Eve McCrystal Asea
  5. Fiona Guihen Irish Centre for Cycling
  6. Grace Young De Ronde
  7. Michelle O’Halloran Lakeside Wheelers
  8. Nessa Rochford De Ronde

Thanks to Orla Montague for the race report and John Hammer for the Photos