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Relegation battle down to the wire

It's been a few days of drama on the Leinster League front and not all of it was confined to the pitch, as prior to last weekend Cill Dara were deducted a whopping 12 points for a "transfer form irregularity," a sanction that plummeted the Kildare town club to the bottom of Division 1A.

On the pitch Monkstown and Edenderry wrapped up promotion play-off slots in Divisions 1B and 2B respectively, while Gorey and Co Carlow set up their Division 2A winner-take-all clash this Sunday.

On Saturday in Division 1A Tullow slipped up in their battle to avoid relegation as they squandered a 17-point lead they enjoyed on the hour mark and had to settle for a 20-20 draw at home in Black Gates to Dundalk.

The drama was reserved for the very end when, with the visitors chasing a seven-point deficit, their Zimbabwean lock forward Mike Bentley was shoulder charged into touch as he tried to score and the referee awarded a penalty try.

Cill Dara appealed the penalty imposed on them by the Leinster Branch Competitions Committee and on Tuesday and they had the points sanction reduced to six points but they were thrown out of the Provincial Towns Cup, following an appeal by Roscrea, who now take their place in the second round.

Ahead of Sunday's final series of games this leaves Tullow rooted to the bottom of the table on 21 points. Cill Dara are on 23, Clondalkin on 24, while Newbridge and Enniscorthy are level on 25 points.

This has set up three huge relegation clashes in Division 1A on Sunday – Clondalkin v Tullow, Cill Dara v Wanderers and Enniscorthy v Newbridge.

Action in Division 1B came to a close on Sunday and in the big match to decide second place Malahide beat Monkstown 7-5 at home in Estuary Road, but it was the visitors who took the promotion play-off place by a single point over their hosts.

Champions Ashbourne had to come from behind in Kilkenny as they won 30-21 to go through their campaign with a remarkable 14 wins from 14 games.

Despite beating already relegated Garda 37-8 away in Westmanstown, Portarlington are in the relegation play-off against the runner up in Division 2A while Longford completed their programme with a 19-12 home win in CPL Park against Wicklow.

A late try secured Co Carlow not only a victory away in Streamstown against Roscrea, but a precious four-try bonus point as they won 22-15 to keep the pressure on Gorey, who received a walkover at home against already relegated Clane.

This sets up the perfect finale to the season on Sunday in Oak Park when the hosts need to win and prevent their visitors from picking up a bonus point, otherwise the Co Wexford club will be champions of Division 2A.

FASCINATING

At the other end of the table there is a fascinating four-way battle to avoid the relegation spot with the current occupiers, seventh-placed Railway Union, at home to fourth-placed Roscrea. Fifth-placed Mullingar travel to the Maws in Kilcock to take on North Kildare and Clane are at home at Ballinagappa Road against sixth-placed Portlaoise.

The last series of games in Division 2B saw Edenderry win 20-3 away in Townspark against Athboy to pip Athy, who travelled to Birr and won 3-0 at Riverside for second place, while champions New Ross convincingly beat Wexford Wanderers 43-8 in a game that was switched late from Wexford to Southknock.

Swords were presented with their Division 3 trophy on Sunday but lost 24-10 away in the Iveagh Grounds to Guinness while Midland Warriors' clash with Arklow was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The teams will try again at the same venue on Sunday.


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