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Dara escape drop in Wanderers win

IT'S difficult to recall a more dramatic finale to a Division 1A relegation battle than that we saw last Sunday, while elsewhere Gorey won Division 2A of the Leinster League when an 8-8 draw away to second-placed Co Carlow was enough to lift the trophy.

Tullow were relegated from Division 1A and Newbridge finished seventh, so they now play Division 1B runners-up Monkstown tomorrow week in a play-off.

Undoubtedly though, the big story was Cill Dara's 17-10 victory against previously unbeaten champions Wanderers to escape the drop following the six-point sanction imposed on them for a transfer form irregularity.

A big crowd turned up in Beech Park to see if the home side could upset the odds and they weren't disappointed when a rousing and passionate second-half performance delivered the points that lifted the Kildare town club two points clear of their nearest neighbours into sixth place.

Mind you, there were a lot of glum faces around the place at half-time as hooker Eddie Doyle's try had helped the visitors into a 10-3 lead as Wanderers took advantage of nervy Cill Dara errors.

The home side cut out these mistakes after the break and tore into their opponents with a ferocity that eventually landed a penalty try to level affairs midway through the half before lock-forward Billy O'Shea scored under the posts with six minutes remaining to secure the win.

Meanwhile, there was drama aplenty up the M7 as Clondalkin drew 30-30 with Tullow at home in Gordon Park, Kingswood, with full-back Chris Jebb delivering the late drop goal that squared it for the home side, thus retaining their status. An even later missed penalty by the visitors cost them the game and also their Division 1A salvation after they had blown a 22-0 lead earlier in the game.

Newbridge scored first away in Ross Road against Enniscorthy through out-half Ben Swindlehurst, but failed to register another score as Enniscorthy closed them down, winning 11-3 with second-row Declan O'Brien scoring their first-half try. Elsewhere, Dundalk beat Coolmine 24-5 at home in Mill Road as both teams, along with Enniscorthy and Wanderers, qualified for next season's All-Ireland Junior Cup.

Gorey trailed 8-3 at half-time in Oak Park, but full-back Neville Copeland's second-half try secured the draw in a topsy-turvy encounter that was in the balance right up until the final whistle.

The Wexford club will now play in Division 1B for the first time in their history next season, while Co Carlow will prepare for a promotion/relegation play-off against Portarlington on Sunday week.

Drama

At the other end of the table, there was also drama aplenty as Portlaoise, Railway Union and Mullingar all surged past Roscrea to leave the club in the play-off position. Roscrea will play Edenderry on Sunday week.

Attention on Sunday switches to the Provincial Towns Cup which is sponsored by Cleaning Contractors and features three quarter-final ties as well as the rearranged Roscrea v Midland Warriors second-round fixture.

The draw for the semi-finals will take place in Enniscorthy's Ross Road clubhouse after the home side's clash with Dundalk, a game between two of the favourites that is likely to be decided by a single score.

Kilkenny host Newbridge in Foulkstown as they attempt to take a Division 1A scalp for the second round in succession, while Wicklow travel to Spollanstown to take on the holders Tullamore and the club with the only second XV remaining in the Cup.


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