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Top test for in-form Enniscorthy

Division 1B of the Leinster League takes centre stage on Sunday when in-form Enniscorthy, who currently lie third, head to Rosetown to take on leaders Newbridge in a match that will go a long way to shaping the final outcome of this most intriguing and intensely competitive of leagues.

Coolmine, in second position, and trailing the pacesetters by three points, face a tricky encounter of their own tomorrow when they travel to Kilkenny, a side fighting tooth and nail to escape the drop at the opposite end of the table.

Enniscorthy are unbeaten in all competitions since November when Newbridge won their first league encounter 30-28 in an absolute thriller at Ross Road.

No other team in the province is in such a rich vein of form and, while it's unlikely they'll win the league, as they trail their hosts by eight points with only two games left, the Wexford club will fight to the death until that mathematical possibility evaporates.

There's also the matter of the promotion play-off for the runner-up and that remains very much a possibility.

Revenge may also be a factor, but Enniscorthy know they'll be up against a well-drilled outfit that has been consistent from the outset of the campaign.

The Kildare side play a high tempo, ball-through-the-hands game that suits their pacy back row, which is led by the skilful, yet abrasive, Johnny Downey.

His battle with former Leinster flanker and Enniscorthy player-coach Declan O'Brien promises to be gargantuan, and there is sufficient talent in both backlines to benefit from quick ball delivered from the breakdown.

An interesting statistic is that Newbridge have lost twice and drawn one game this season -- and all three setbacks have been at home.

Wicklow are at home to Garda in a must-win game for the visitors if they are to escape relegation, while, in the remaining game, only local pride is at stake when New Ross visit Tullow.

In Division 1A it's likely that the automatic relegation issue will be decided tomorrow when bottom side Portlaoise travel to Dundalk.


The Laois club were hammered 56-10 at home by Tullamore last week in a lone rearranged fixture and, following on from their 51-12 reversal a week earlier in Skerries, they now trail seventh placed Monkstown by six points.

On that form it's difficult to imagine anything other than another sound defeat that would consign Portlaoise to life outside of the mainstream for the first time since 1997-98.

With no feeder school to service them, the Midlands club has always relied on the assembly line provided by its own extremely progressive minis and youths system.

There's no doubt that it won't take long for the club -- which has in the past produced such high-calibre players as Irish international Brian Rigney -- to bounce back to the forefront of the club game in Leinster.

Elsewhere, newly crowned champions Seapoint can shove neighbours Monkstown closer to the relegation play-off spot with a win in Sydney Parade, especially if Skerries pick up points of any hue when they travel to Cill Dara.

The Kildare town club still have AIB Junior Cup aspirations to aim for as have Dundalk and Tullamore who clash in Mill Road.

Division 2 runaway leaders Portarlington suffered their first defeat in Clondalkin a fortnight ago and they'll be keen to reassert their authority when they visit Athy on Sunday.

North Kildare, meanwhile, have reached the point of no return in their battle against the drop, but they'll be buoyed by their first win of the season at home against Roscrea two weeks ago when they welcome Longford.

In Division 3 Section 'A', Edenderry will try to maintain their three-point advantage over Wexford Wanderers when they host Rathdrum on Sunday, while in Section 'B' Balbriggan head to CYM with two points to spare over second-placed North Meath.