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RE/MAX Leinster League Weekend Preview Week 10

Division Three

After the long break for the Towns and Metro cups action resumes this Saturday with Clane hosting Swords in Ballinagappa. Swords have a small chance of promotion but realistically that won't be achieved this season. Clane however have a fantastic opportunity to win promotion and it's hard to look beyond a five point haul for the Kildare men this weekend.  A five point haul that would almost but guarantee them one of the promotion slots. Clane's ability to pick up bonus points has been second to none across the three divisions and that's a testament to their resilience and determination this year.

The champions elect Rathdrum also are all but promoted and depending on results could find themselves promoted on Sunday. With probably the best player in Division Three Tommy Ovary in scintillating form they will pick up another five points at home to Malahide.

Down in Clonattin, Athy will be at home to finish off Gorey's promotion chances and very much keep themselves in pole position for that final spot. Athy's young team with Daz O'Brien back from injury should have enough to win a tight game. Clondalkin should keep themselves in the promotion race with a routine win over Balbriggan and Arklow should return home from the Maws with a minimum four point haul.

From a Division Three perspective the most worrying team about the recent Towns Cup games were the heavy defeats suffered by a lot of the Division 3 teams, the defeat in particular of Rathdrum stands out.  The promoted teams will really need to up to work hard to bridge the gap between Division Three and Division Two.

Division Two

As the red-nosed Scot Alex Ferguson is akin to saying "we are now entering squeaky bum time" and with two points separating the top three it couldn't be any tighter.

Newbridge, the long time leaders look like they could be squeezed out of top spot on bonus points as both Tullow and Enniscorthy have an easier run-in although Newbridge know that two wins and one bonus is enough to secure themselves an historic promotion. It certainly would be an historic moment as Newbridge were a club that seemed to lack direction and identity after the amalgamation of Old Kilcullen and The Curragh rugby clubs but despite living in the shadows of Naas and Cill Dara for so long Newbridge have started to box above their weight. They have beaten both Tullow and Enniscorthy and they would be deserving champions but will the lack of fire power come back to haunt them?  This week, they face a daunting trip to Edenderry, a venue that you could probably count the number of defeats the home side have suffered in the last three years on one hand but most significantly Newbridge inflicted one of those defeats last year and should squeeze a tight one on Sunday.

Enniscorthy face local rivals New Ross on Sunday but Enniscorthy should have won their Towns Cup quarter final last Sunday and would expect to pick up five points here. Tullow should pick up another five points on Sunday which could leave us with the possibility of three teams all trying to win the title on the last Sunday.

Longford's need will be greater on Sunday and they should crawl out of the relegation places while Kilkenny and Roscrea should pick up routine wins.

Division One

Although not quite as squeaky as Division Two, it's still very much squeaky bum time around Kildare and Killiney as both Cill Dara and Seapoint have a chance of winning the title but, unlike Division Two, bonus points shouldn't come in to it as the math is quite simple, if Cill Dara win their last two league games they will become champions.

Cill Dara, with a squad predominantly from Kildare Town, is almost GAA like in their spirit and is very much a community based team. It's quite remarkable to believe that only five years ago this team were in Division Three and would have started this season with nobody tipping them for glory. With an inexperienced coaching ticket they have learnt and grown from each game, are unbeaten and have scored a remarkable twenty eight tries in nine games. Their form entering the last league two games has been excellent with emphatic wins over Dundalk and Mullingar in the Towns Cup. However, Ashbourne, their opponents on Sunday are not just playing for pride, they are playing for their Division One status and do not want to be the team entering the play-off with the third placed team in Division Two. Ashbourne remarkably have the fifth best defensive record in Division One but it's at the other end of the paddock where they are experiencing problems with an average of less than ten points a game and one try per game. Cill Dara will however get the win that they need.

Seapoint hot on the heels of Cill Dara face a tricky tie at home to Garda.  Traditionally there is no love lost between these sides but Seapoint should up pick the home win. Navan are looking for miracles but with an All-Ireland Junior Cup semi-final and a Towns Cup semi-final to look forward to they won't be taking the foot off the pedal and should win comfortably. A victory for Skerries should leave Boyne in relegation trouble and Tullamore and Wicklow should pick up routine wins.

by Daniel Quinn, © 2008-02-20

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