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O'Brien bags brace as Tullow bounce back and boost their promotion bid

THERE were only a few catch-up games down for decision in the Leinster League on Sunday, with most teams greeting the weekend off as a welcome respite to lick their wounds, some of which were more psychological than physical.

Tullow rekindled their Division 1B promotion challenge with a hard-fought 27-22 home win over Clondalkin, New Ross were awarded a walkover when visitors West Offaly Lions were unable to field in Division 2A, and Tallaght moved into second place in Division 3 after beating Birr 16-12 at home in Tymon Park.

Tullow bounced back from two defeats in a row to score five tries and bag a precious bonus point as they closed the gap on leaders Co Carlow to five points.

Half-backs Sean McCarthy and William O'Brien edged the hosts 10-9 in front at the interval, with a pair of tries in a game where they could never comfortably put their visitors away.

Second-half touchdowns from lock forward Stephen Smith, full-back Philip Timmons and out-half O'Brien again eventually secured the victory that moved Tullow up to fourth place.

Struggling West Offaly Lions were unable to cobble together a side to travel to New Ross and, after being deducted four points, their plight at the foot of Division 2A looks bleak indeed.

With a visit to Kilkenny on Sunday next, they will hope to gather enough troops to fulfil the fixture and avoid expulsion from the league.

Tallaght got the better of a lively encounter with Birr, having to come from 9-6 behind early in the second-half to secure the win that sets them up for a brace of big games against the teams immediately above and below them -- Arklow on Sunday and leaders Guinness six days later.

Action resumes throughout the Leinster League this weekend, with leaders Newbridge heading to Monkstown tomorrow afternoon, while second-placed Skerries are at home to Coolmine.

Tullamore welcome Enniscorthy to Spollenstown while Dundalk host bottom club Garda, boosted after being awarded the game against Monkstown a fortnight ago after the Dublin 4 club used an illegal overseas player.

In Division 2B, leaders Co Carlow travel to Ashbourne while second placed Cill Dara entertain bottom side Portlaoise in a North Midlands Area derby.

Tullow face a long trip and a difficult encounter in Longford, while Wicklow will be keen to continue their good recent form when they travel to Clondalkin.

Portarlington are the only team to have won all their games in Division 2A, and they make the trip to Clane on Sunday as the club immediately behind them, Malahide, are at home to New Ross.

North Kildare have yet to pick up any points and will be hoping to do so when Roscrea are the visitors to Kilcock.

Mullingar are unbeaten in Division 2B and will hope to maintain that record at home against Swords at the same time as in-form second-placed Athy welcome Gorey to The Showgrounds.

Railway Union will try to bounce back from their first league defeat when they go to Balbriggan while there is a basement battle in Carbury when Edenderry welcome Wexford Wanderers.

Guinness are idle in Division 3 with the Arklow v Tallaght battle allowing the winner to close the gap to the leaders.

North Meath head to Rathdrum while, in the remaining game, bottom side Midland Warriors have a derby encounter in Birr, the team immediately above them.