Saturday 19 January 2019

Garda close in on promotion

Garda moved a step closer to joining the top tier in the Leinster League next season with a last-gasp 30-24 win in Tullow.

Winger Kevin Dingley crossed for the late converted try to move the Westmanstown-based club a step closer to the title and promotion to Division 1A.

It is a major turnaround for Garda as last April they won a relegation play-off clash to stay in Division 1B.

The arrival of ex-Irish international lock forward Brian Rigney as coach has proved to be the catalyst.

Tullow still have a major interest in the promotion race but it is likely to centre around the play-off rather than the second automatic spot, which now seems locked down by Enniscorthy after their 23-0 win in Portarlington.

Portlaoise and Monkstown are the other play-off contenders in what is turning into quite a dogfight, with two points separating the three sides.

Tomorrow, Monkstown host Tullow with defeat unimaginable for either side, while Portlaoise must land points of some sort from their home tie with Garda if they are to keep pace.

West Offaly Lions will be relegated if they lose at home to Portarlington, while New Ross will be closer to a similar fate if Enniscorthy beat them.

In Division 1A, only a pair of catch-up games took place, Dundalk moved back up to second with their 9-8 win at Newbridge, while Coolmine halted Cill Dara's revival in a 34-16 away win.

Tomorrow, the bottom two battle it out in Oak Park when last-placed Co Carlow host Cill Dara.

Relegation to Division 1B for the Carlovians, who were in the AlB League Division 1 five years ago, is unthinkable, but it's almost certain if they lose.

Co Carlow have been poor since the league resumed in the New Year and have shipped three heavy defeats, while Cill Dara have clawed back a six-point deficit over the same period.

Form would suggest an away win but the hosts will look back to their first meeting when they were unlucky to lose 9-8 in Beechpark.

Elsewhere red-hot Skerries travel to Tullamore, while Dundalk will host another in-form team in Coolmine.

Longford moved closer to claiming the Division 2 crown when they beat visitors Edenderry 35-10 on Sunday.

The battle to see who will join them wasn't clarified as third-placed Clondalkin's game at home to fourth-placed Clane was rained off, while second-placed Ashbourne were idle.

Division 2 also sees rearranged games tomorrow, Clondalkin travel to struggling Mullingar, last-placed Wexford Wanderers are at home to Clane and Edenderry host Kilkenny.

In Division 3 Section 'B', leaders Swords host North Meath, second-placed Arklow welcome Birr and Guinness host last-placed Rathdrum.

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