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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Port' storm to title with thumping win but all to play for in battle against drop

Portarlington secured the Leinster League Division 2 title last Sunday when they won 40-0 in North Kildare and in the process consigned their hosts to relegation.

The county Laois champions will be presented with their trophy immediately after their home encounter with Gorey on Sunday and having led from the outset, they thoroughly deserve their success.

Coached by Johnny Burns, and captained from No8 by Mark Petriw, Port's triumph has been the proverbial team effort with no single player contributing more than any other.

The 15-point gap back to second-placed Ashbourne adequately portrays their dominance.

Their thirst for the fray at the weekend will be eagerly watched by many sides near the bottom of the table as Gorey are tigerishly trying to remain afloat in Division 2.

The County Wexford club are two points clear of the drop zone but face arguably the toughest run-in as they host promotion chasing Clondalkin a week later.

Roscrea are currently in position to accompany North Kildare into Division 3 and their visit to Athy (four points ahead of them) could determine if one or both of these sides will have an anxious week working out various last-day safety permutations.

Mullingar are level on points with Gorey and they host Longford tomorrow night while Clane, six points above the cut-off mark, would now appear to be safe, but they'll still feel they need another point or two to seal the deal when they welcome Ashbourne on Sunday.

Another club celebrating last weekend was Wexford Wanderers who achieved promotion from Division 3 Section "A" when they emerged from Rathdrum with a 52-23 victory.

They trail leaders Edenderry by three points and the title race concludes on Sunday when the pacesetters travel to bottom club Swords and Wexford play Railway Union.

Both clubs can be satisfied with the way their campaigns have panned out and they'll already be looking forward to the tougher challenges in Division 2 next season.

The Division 3 Section 'B' title race has come down to a final day shootout as leaders and newcomers to the Leinster League North Meath host their North East rivals Balbriggan in Kells with only a single point separating them.

This promises to be a battle royal as the winner is automatically promoted while the loser goes down the route of a play-off.

The semi-final pairings for this season's Newstalk Provincial Towns Cup were revealed on Sunday following the completion of the third round and there are a couple of heavyweight, mouth-watering battles in prospect.

Tullamore will take on Dundalk in Navan RFC, while Edenderry RFC will host the clash between Cill Dara and Boyne; both games will be on Sunday week.

Tullamore came from five points behind at half time to squeeze through 11-10 in Portlaoise, surviving a tense finale into the bargain.

Cill Dara and Dundalk had relatively comfortable passages to the penultimate stage as they won in Wicklow (27-5) and New Ross (27-12) respectively.

Eoin Collins's late, late converted try for Boyne rescued the holders from defeat at home to Enniscorthy as they narrowly held on to their precious crown with an 18-13 win.

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