Skerries looking 'More the merry as shock defeat sets up the title
Skerries have suddenly put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack at the top of Division 1A and with three games remaining it is the north county Dubliners' title to lose following another exciting weekend of Leinster League action.
They have now extended their lead to five points after a 28-23 win at third placed Enniscorthy, which combined with second placed Tullamore's surprising 26-22 defeat away by Garda has cemented Skerries' position at the summit.
All those lucky enough to be at the Ross Road venue were treated to a terrific game with the visitors outscoring the hosts by three tries to two in a vibrant tie that was in doubt until the final whistle.
Skerries got off to what has now become their trademark quick start when winger Paul Devitt scored an early try, and indeed they led 12-7 at half time as fullback David Quirke restored their advantage following a try by Enniscorthy No8 Graham Murphy.
Winger Fiacre Ryan got the home side back in front with a try early in the second half but it was Quirke's crucial late try that put the leaders ahead and they were able to maintain their slender advantage to the end despite a late onslaught by the home side.
Skerries have the chance to reinforce that five-point lead tomorrow evening (KO: 6pm) as they are first into weekend action when they welcome seventh placed Dundalk to Holmpatrick; all other Division 1A games have been moved to Sunday to avoid clashing with the Leinster v Montpellier Heineken Cup tie.
Tullamore's recent good run came to a shuddering halt on Saturday in Westmanstown against the team in sixth place, and with it most likely their title hopes.
Despite outscoring their hosts by three tries to one the Offaly side were made to pay for their indiscipline as out-half Paddy O'Toole slotted seven penalties to augment the game's opening score, a try by Garda No8 John Dever.
Tullamore will try to get their challenge back on track when they entertain Newbridge in Spollenstown on Sunday.
The Kildare club halted their recent slide with a 21-5 home success against Coolmine with hooker Neil Duggan, flanker Austin Cella and centre Ben Swindlehurst scoring first-half tries as they closed the gap on those above them but remain in fourth.
There was also a huge basement battle on Saturday with Dundalk emerging as 36-19 winners over their visitors, Monkstown, and stretching their advantage to six points over the Dubliners, who are the bottom side in the Division.
If Monkstown are to escape automatic relegation they must win at home against Garda on Sunday while in the remaining game Coolmine will host Enniscorthy as both attempt to return to winning ways.
In Division 1B Cill Dara opened up a four-point lead at the top when they won 31-8 in Tullow while second placed Wicklow went down 22-17 at home to third placed Co Carlow.
On Sunday the top two clash as Wicklow travel to Beechpark in a game that could decide the title while at the other end of the table bottom club Portlaoise, making a valiant attempt to escape a seemingly inevitable relegation, travel to Co Carlow.
In Division 2A, leaders by four points Portarlington face a tricky trip to New Ross while second placed Roscrea travel to the team immediately below them, Kilkenny.
Gorey enjoy a nine-point lead in Division 2B and will all but wrap up the title if they win at last placed Wexford Wanderers while a Guinness win at home to second placed Arklow should ensure the Iveagh Grounds side, seven points clear at the top, win Division 3.