The facts and figures themselves do not tell the whole story of this year’s Joe Daly Cycles sponsored Women’s National League, but it is certainly worth reflecting upon them….
Ninety riders signed on for one or more of the seven races in this year’s series; the geographical spread of clubs hosting National League races stretched from as far south as Blarney CC, to the northerly extremity of North Down CC’s home turf; in terms of season length, we started the 2015 Women’s National League way back in mid March, and it finally reached it’s conclusion on the last weekend in August.
And the most significant figure of all?
That solitary point that separated the overall winner of the Joe Daly Cycles Women’s National League 2015 from her nearest rival!
On a chilly St Patrick’s weekend in Blarney, Co. Cork, then National Road Race Champion, and member of the hosting club, Fiona Meade showed her class by making short work of winning the opening race of this year’s National League, the Kay Stratton Memorial Race.
Round two was the popular Visit Nenagh Classic, and it too was won by a rider more frequently associated with international duty than the domestic scene these days… Eve McCrystal, Garda CC, out-sprinted Aideen Keenan (DID Racing) on the home straight and took the win. Aideen’s second place saw her slot into top spot on the table, a position she would be reluctant to relinquish….
Same story, different day would do as a brief summary of National League Round 3, as Eve McCrystal once again snatched victory at the Waller Cup race in Bohermeen. Aideen Keenan didn’t place in Round 3, but her margin at the top was sufficient to see her continue to lead the league table.
Round 4 saw the Joe Daly Cycle’s Women’s National League return to sunny Kilkenny, for the Deenside Cup. A bunch sprint finish on the day was taken by Ciara Kinch (Towers CC), from Sinnead Oakes (Nenagh CC). A strong finish by Grace Young (De Ronde van Cork) saw her move up to second place on the National League table, and from here she would keep a close eye on Aideen Keenan….
There was no bunch sprint, and no disputing the result of National League Round 5, as Michelle O’Halloran (Lakeside Wheelers) took a memorable and comfortable win at the Eddie Tobin Memorial race in Bunclody. Grace Young was fourth rider home, and the ten points this earned her moved her up to top rung on the National League ladder, with two rounds to go!
Although Eimear Moran (Sundrive CC) crossed the line first, the biblical rain was the real victor at the penultimate round of the Joe Daly Cycle’s Women’s National League. The Suir Valley 3 Day Women’s Criterium in Clonmel was round 7 of this year’s league, and the handful of riders who managed to finish it did very well just to stay upright.
With the help of her club-mates, Grace Young rolled home in third place in the Criterium, just one place ahead of Aideen Keenan…. and these positions, with the adjustments that allow each rider to exclude their poorest result, meant that Grace and Aideen were joint league leaders heading into the final round!!
And so the scene was set… showdown in North Down.
It was a long road trip for the women from De Ronde van Cork, but they came in numbers to support their club-mate Grace Young. Meanwhile Aideen Keenan, although having less of journey to make, had but one team-mate to rely on.
In the end it could not have been closer, ….and while Grace Young rallied hard all race and all season, victory in the North Down GP, and with it, National League victory, went – in a year of cycling ups and downs for her – to a deserving Aideen Keenan.
Prizes and trophies for the 2015 National League will be presented at Cycling Ireland’s annual Awards Dinner, in Dublin on Friday 20th November (venue and time tbc, see CI website for upcoming details). Those who finished the league in first to sixth places are requested to please attend the Awards Dinner so that they can be recognised and rewarded for their achievements.
A very big thank you once again to Joe Daly Cycles, Dundrum, for their generous sponsorship of the Women’s National League!
Thank you to Monica Marconi and Julie White for their tireless work in coordinating the National League series this year. Thank you to the seven clubs who hosted National League races this season, ….and thank you to the increasing number of other clubs who held non-league women’s races throughout the year. Thank you to Margaret Donnelly, Fiona Cooke (ahem), and Jessica Lamb for their race previews and reports.
Last but not least… thank you to the ninety riders who signed on for one or more races this year… (with special mention to Niamh Stephens (UCD), Monica Marconi (Orwell) and Grace Young, the only 3 riders to sign on for all 7 races!).. without you there would be no races, no league, no season.
So next year, let’s all make it bigger and better!!
Joe Daly Cycles Women’s National League 2015, final standings:
- Aideen Keenan, DID Racing: 59 points
- Grace Young, de Ronde van Cork: 58 points
- Ann Horan, Orwell Wheelers: 42 points
- Niamh Stephens, UCD: 40 points
- Monica Marconi, Orwell Wheelers: 34 points
- Maire Claffey, UCD: 33 points