Curveball: Leinster stats don't lie: they make you cry
THIS weekend is a huge one for Leinster - if you happen to be a follower of the oval persuasion - as Jason Heaslip and his Euro glory hunters seek to throw Bath out with the Champions Cup bathwater at the Aviva tomorrow.
This weekend could be an alarming one for Leinster - if your ball of preference is spherical and your insurance sponsor of choice is Allianz.
Just look at the four tables in this year's NFL, with one round to be completed this Sunday. It makes for relatively grim reading for all those GAA devotees waiting, and waiting, for some general upsurge in the status of all those Leinster wannabes who dream of keeping the ball kicked out to Dublin in the summer.
Holders Dublin are third in Division One after a recent uplift, leaving them well placed (but from far guaranteed) to reach another semi-final.
Division Two is where most of the Leinster action is at; this is where the most likely pretenders to Dublin's eastern throne should reside. Yet the current standings would scarcely fill them with optimism.
Mick O'Dowd's (inset) Meath have seven points after a topsy-turvy campaign but could well seal top-flight elevation by beating fellow promotion-chasers Cavan at home. Laois, on five points and facing a trip to table-toppers Down, could fall through the relegation trap door ... depending on what happens Kildare and Westmeath, currently in the relegation places with four points apiece.
Division Three is a wasteland: Louth are one of four counties on four points, battling the drop, whereas Wexford (on two points, with a -40 scoring difference) are close to doomed.
Meanwhile, to have four Leinster counties in Division Four is an indictment in itself - but at least Longford (11 points) are already guaranteed promotion while Offaly (nine points) can join them simply by drawing at home to fellow-chasers Antrim.
So far, so very mixed.
However, when you drill down through the spring results - to see just how our Leinster brethren have performed against opponents from elsewhere in the country - it gets even worse.
Here's the county-by-county breakdown of how each has performed against non-Leinster rivals ...
DIVISION ONE - Dublin: won three, drew one, lost two (for a win rate of 50 per cent from all six matches, including their Tyrone deadlock).
DIVISION TWO - Meath: won one, lost two (win rate 33pc). Laois: won two, lost one (67pc). Kildare: won one, lost two (33pc). Westmeath: won zero, lost three (0pc).
DIVISION THREE - Louth: won one, lost four (win rate 20pc). Wexford: won one, lost four (20pc).
DIVISION FOUR - Longford: won three, drew one, lost zero (win rate 75pc). Offaly: won two, drew one, lost zero (67pc). Carlow: won two, drew one, lost one (50pc). Wicklow: won one, lost two (33pc).
In overall terms, our meandering men from the east have won 17, drawn four and lost 21 of their 42 encounters with non-Leinster teams (for a win rate of just over 40 per cent).
However, the record of those counties supposedly best placed to challenge Dublin's dominance - the four in Division Two - is scarier still. It reads won four, lost eight, for a 33 per cent strike rate.
Earlier this week, talking about Dublin's trip to Monaghan, DCU's Niall Moyna spoke of how Jim Gavin will be craving more league knockout games "because of the lack of competitive fixtures in Leinster".
He wasn't being flippant; the league statistics prove it.