Daire Feeley And Annalise Murphy Victorious At Des Hanlon Memorial As Road National Series Kicks Off

Daire Feeley and Annalise Murphy were the big winners as the Des Hanlon Memorial kicked off the Road National Series with a bang in Co. Carlow on Sunday, March 24th.

Hosted by Carlow Road Cycling Club, the Des Hanlon Memorial's 43rd edition didn't disappoint as spectators and riders enjoyed some great racing along the exciting traditional course.

A bright start to the day saw both races get off to a fast opening loop before the rain came down, making for some difficult conditions for riders, with some small crashes causing issues for riders in all races.

But the weather couldn't dampen Feeley's spirits as the former Ras Tailteann winner got over the line in a race he's come agonisingly close to winning in recent years.

With almost 100 riders taking to the line in the A1/A2 race, any breakaway looking to make it stick would need a big engine room.

And after 100km of attacks and non-stop action at the front, six riders finally managed to get away and form a leading group for the final lap of the circuit before taking on the fearsome Rossmore Climb.

Feeley, Conn McDunphy, George Peden, Cameron Henry, Andrew Kelly and Mark Dowling made up a strong group - holding a margin of over 45 seconds at one point - before coming into the Rossmore Climb with a narrow ten second margin.

But the cream rose to the top on Rossmore as the race split to pieces with the strongest riders pushing on. It was Feeley and George Peden who stayed away from the chase - the duo came over the top with a definitive gap on around 30 riders, who regrouped on the descent.

Their gap grew to well over a minute in the final 10km as Feeley took on Peden in a two-up sprint for the spoils - with Feeley having just too much for the Team PB Performance rider. 

Daire Feeley said:

"About time is all I can say! I've been fifth, second and third - I've always been 'nearly' when it comes to this race. To win it today is a brilliant feeling. It definitely felt like the hardest race out there today. The climbing, there's such pull on the roads all day, you really have to ride your bike hard. There's no hiding so it makes for a big challenge. Two riders got across to us and the bunch were on our tales at the base of the climb."
"George (Peden) attacked at the base of the climb, I followed and looked around to see Conn McDunphy on my wheel. First hairpin, George whacked it again and we dropped Conn. I sat on him all the way up - he was so strong - if the climb was any longer, I'm not sure I would have hung on in there. Thankfully it wasn't, it was such a hard race and a relief to cross the line - never mind cross the line winning the race!"

In the women's race, it was Murphy who dictated much of the day as she laid down the gauntlet throughout - attacking on some of the short punchy climbs to continuously put on the hurt and narrow down the field.

As the race headed into the final 30km, Murphy's attacks saw the field whittle down and a split in the bunch saw her joined by Aoife O'Brien, Emma O'Brien, Jemma Speers and Tuva Mauland.

Last year's winner Caoimhe O'Brien and Orla Walsh were among those missing out in the split, as the leaders went on to fight for victory.

But it was Murphy who continued to apply the pressure and made a decisive move inside the final 15km to set up a sprint finish with Mauland as O'Brien and Speers chased just behind.

Annalise Murphy said: 

"A super tough race, but cold when it started raining. I was dressed very much in winter gear - which everyone was slagging me at the start about - but about an hour in I was feeling pretty smug with my overshoes and leggings on! It's a super tough race, I guess I had really good legs today and worked hard on the climbs to make sure everyone is working and attacking when I could."
"I got away with one other rider with about 12km to go. At the finish it got pretty close because Aoife (O'Brien) and Jemma (Speers) caught back up and you never know in a sprint who's going to get it. I felt like I was the strongest out there today but that doesn't mean you're going to win - I was delighted to get across the line first."

Multiple junior riders competed in both races and were well amongst the action, with Phillip O'Connor and Kate Murphy finishing highest amongst Junior riders to take the Road National Series Leaders' Jerseys.

Feeley and Murphy also take the senior leaders' jerseys following their victories. The next round of the 2024 Road National Series takes place on April 28th at the Donal Crowley Memorial in Blarney, Co. Cork. 

2024 Road National Series - Des Hanlon Memorial

A1/A2 Race Results (144km)

1. Daire Feeley - All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team

2. George Peden - Team PB Performance

3. Philip O'Connor - Dungarvan Cycling Club (Highest placed Junior)

4. Leo Doyle - X-Speed United

5. Liam Crowley - UCD Cycling Club

6. Conn McDunphy - TEAM SKYLINE - Cadence

7. Patrick O'Loughlin - Panduit Carrick Wheelers

8. Ruairi Byrne - UCD Cycling Club

9. Gareth O'Neill - Athlete Nutrition Coach HD

10. Mark Dowling - All human/VeloRevolution Racing Team

Women's Race Results (100km)

1. Annalise Murphy - Longcourt Hotel - NCW Wheelers

2. Tuva Mauland - Un-Attached

3. Aoife O'Brien - Belco Van Eyck

4. Jemma Speers - North Down CC

5. Abi Conway - Westport Covey Wheelers Cycling Club

6. Elia Tutty - UCD Cycling Club

7. Ellen Ni Cleirigh - Longcourt Hotel - NCW Wheelers

8. Elena Wallace - Harps CC

Unplaced Junior: Kate Murphy - Sliabh Luachra Cycling Club

More information on the 2024 Road National Series is available here.