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Relegated Port' pay the penalty

Some more issues in the Leinster League were clarified over the weekend, while others become clearer as the end approaches.

A last-minute missed penalty from in front of the posts cost Portlaoise a surprise victory in Dundalk and their narrow 8-6 defeat consigned the Laois club to Division 1B for next season.

Portlaoise exit Division 1A after 12 years in the top flight and they went down fighting, producing their best display since before Christmas in the fog-shrouded surroundings of Mill Road.

Monkstown's 24-16 loss at home to champions Seapoint means that the Sydney Parade club finished seventh and now must play off with the runner-up in Division 1B for the opportunity to play in the higher level next season.

The precise make-up of Division 1A for 2010-11 has been complicated by the Leinster Branch decision to ring-fence the division with eight teams -- the movement of teams up or down from the AIB League will affect where certain clubs will play next season.

At present Co Carlow (in the automatic relegation place) and Naas (two points and one place clear of the relegation play-off spot) are the most exposed Leinster teams in AIB Division 3 and the nightmare scenario is for those two clubs to fall out of the AIL, along with Seapoint to fail to gain promotion from the Leinster League.

Were this to happen, the two teams in the Leinster League Div 1A/1B play-off would both play in Division 1B next season along with the team that finishes sixth in Division 1A.

If one team is relegated from the AIB League and Seapoint fail to gain promotion (or if Seapoint go up and two come down) then that sixth-placed team remains in Division 1A but the two teams in the play-off will be condemned to Division 1B.

If Seapoint are promoted and one team are relegated (or no team goes up or down), then the winner of the play-off will play in Division 1A next season and the loser in Division 1B.


Finally, if Seapoint are promoted and no team relegated, the two teams in the play-off will both play in Division 1A next term.

Skerries' big 33-12 win in Cill Dara has thrown the cat among the pigeons in this race to avoid finishing sixth, with the North County Dublin club moving up to fifth, but only three points adrift of Kildare Town who are fourth.

Following their 16-11 loss in Boyne, Tullamore have slipped to sixth and now occupy that limbo position, but they host Dundalk in a rearranged fixture tomorrow that gives them the chance to ease their situation.

All told, an intriguing final round awaits next weekend, and that's without factoring in the top four teams who will gain entry into the AIB Junior Cup in 2010-11.

Coolmine have vaulted to the top of Division 1B and are now favourites for the one automatic promotion spot after their 43-15 bonus-point win in Kilkenny, who themselves have slipped a point adrift at the bottom.

Enniscorthy's 16-10 win in Newbridge relegated the previous table-toppers to second and the Wexford club still has an outside chance of grabbing the play-off spot.

Garda are renowned for pulling off last-gasp escapes and they are in line to do so again after moving up to seventh following their 37-24 bonus-point win in Wicklow.

Only a point separates Wicklow, Garda and Kilkenny.

Portarlington returned to winning ways when they won 21-3 in Athy and their coronation as Division 2 champions seems imminent.

After winning 14-10 in Mullingar, Ashbourne have strengthened their grip on second and a play-off spot, but North Kildare and Roscrea both remain in the relegation zone despite wins over Longford (16-9) and Gorey (6-3) respectively.

Edenderry picked up a bonus point in a 29-14 home victory against Rathdrum and in the process stretched their lead in Division 3 Section 'A', while Balbriggan continue to set the pace in Section 'B' after beating CYM 41-14 in Terenure.