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Stunning start sees Tullow thunder six clear but Longford keen to spoil party

It was the lower divisions of the Leinster League that took centre stage at the weekend as the top-flight teams had the weekend off and among the teams to flourish were Tullow, Roscrea, Railway Union and Birr.

This quartet wouldn't normally be regulars at the top of the club rugby scene, but all four are unbeaten after three games in their respective divisions, and in fact two of them have 100pc records that include maximum four-try bonus points.

Tullow have long been renowned as gritty, tough competitors with a particularly fond penchant for the Towns Cup but lacking the consistency to mount a season-long league challenge.

This could be all about to change as under the tutelage of Leinster star Sean O'Brien and Kiwi Massey Tuhakaraina the Carlow club has amassed three bonus-point victories en route to opening up a six-point advantage at the top of Division 1B and establish themselves as firm favourites for promotion in the spring.



Early

A couple of early tries from winger Daniel O'Brien and fullback Aaron Daly, the second of which out-half Willie Canavan converted before adding a successful penalty goal on the stroke of half time, established a 15-0 interval lead over their visitors Ashbourne on Sunday last.

The county Meath side had a couple of chances of their own but failed to take them as flanker Willie "Hollow" O'Brien bagged a pair of second-half touchdowns with Canavan chipping in with a conversion to give Tullow a 27-0 win.

Longford lost their first game of the season, but held onto their second spot on the table when they went under 29-16 in Wicklow who were recording their first success of the campaign.

Monkstown moved up to third place after they bounced back from their previous week's loss in Longford by defeating previously unbeaten Clondalkin 21-10 at home in Sydney Parade, while Portarlington gained their first success in style with a four-try 35-14 victory in Co Carlow, a defeat that leaves the Oak Park outfit pointless at the bottom.

It's a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday when Tullow put their undefeated record on the line at CPL Park, the home of their nearest challengers Longford, whereas Monkstown will be hoping to apply pressure of their own on the pair above them when they visit struggling Co Carlow tomorrow evening.

The remaining games are both on Sunday, with rejuvenated Portarlington hosting winless Ashbourne and Clondalkin trying to bounce back at home to an improving Wicklow.

Roscrea lead the way in Division 2A and they are the other team in the league with a maximum 15-point haul from its opening three games, following their 40-0 home win over New Ross in which the club on the Offaly/Tipperary border scored six tries.

Kilkenny have also won their opening three games, but their 54-10 home victory over Clane was the first time they managed to bag a bonus point.

On Sunday, the big game is the visit of Roscrea to third-placed Malahide, the Dubliners five points adrift following their 19-3 success in Portlaoise last week, while Kilkenny are at home to Mullingar.

Railway Union scored six tries as they surged to the top of Division 2B last Friday night with a 45-5 win in Swords and tomorrow evening the Dublin 4 outfit travels to second placed Arklow who are also unbeaten and were idle last weekend.



leap-frogged

Birr top Division 3 after their 15-13 home derby victory over West Offaly Lions leap-frogged them past idle Wexford Wanderers and on Sunday the leaders travel to Rathdrum.

Action resumes in Division 1A tomorrow with runaway leaders Tullamore attempting to maintain their 100pc record in Ashbrook against Coolmine, second placed Newbridge welcome Wanderers to Rosetown, Dundalk in third spot travel to the team below them on points difference, Enniscorthy, while the big relegation battle is at Westmanstown where pointless Garda host the team a mere two points ahead of them, Cill Dara.


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