DIVISION 1A leaders Tullamore returned to winning ways last Saturday, beating bottom side Garda 53-0 away in Westmanstown to move within a game of a first-ever league title while their vanquished opponents are a game away from moving in the opposite direction.
The champions-elect scored seven tries with influential No 8 Adrian Hanley bagging four touchdowns in a seven-try first half as the visitors opened up a 48-0 interval lead before cruising through the second period.
Prop forward Tomás Bennett, winger Colin Hughes, out-half Aaron Deverell and full-back Brian Geraghty added the other tries as the midlanders edged closer to securing the title that could be theirs tomorrow. To do so, they must earn a bonus-point win at home in Spollenstown against Coolmine, or win and hope Wanderers beat Newbridge at Merrion Road without scoring four tries.
Wanderers moved into second place as a result of the bonus point they picked up in their 32-20 victory in Enniscorthy, with tries from winger Cian Farrell (two), replacement back-row Paddy Mallon, centre Cailbhe Doherty and winger Ritchie Kavanagh.
Newbridge dropped to third spot after they withstood a strong Cill Dara second-half challenge at home in Rosetown but, after snaring three tries (scrum-half Dave Hogan netted two and full back Karl Darragh got the other) to lead 26-7 at the interval, the hosts failed to score after the break as they held on 26-22.
Similarly Coolmine built up a 25-10 lead early in the second half at home in Ashbrook against Dundalk but ended up hanging on 25-22.
If Garda fail to beat Cill Dara away in Beechpark tomorrow they will be relegated, while their hosts will be consigned to seventh place and the relegation playoff if Enniscorthy pick up two points in their visit to Dundalk.
Tullow are 14 points clear in Division 1B after they beat Longford 18-11 last weekend at home in Black Gates, and could become champions when they travel to Gordon Park to play second-placed Clondalkin.
Clondalkin took a giant step towards securing the promotion play-off spot when centre Chris Jebb knocked over a late penalty goal to deliver a crucial 13-11 win for the south county Dubliners away in Wicklow.
They now have an eight-point buffer over third-placed Longford with just three games remaining.
Co Carlow look condemned to relegation but that didn't stop them pulling off the shock of the weekend by winning 25-19 in Sydney Parade against Monkstown, while Ashbourne's 18-15 home defeat by Portarlington would make the Co Meath club strong favourites to contest the relegation play-off.
Division 2A is the one league where everything is still very much up for grabs at both ends of the table.
Kilkenny continue to lead Malahide by a single point after they both recorded away victories in Mullingar (15-7) and Roscrea (13-5) respectively, while New Ross are level on points at the bottom with Clane after winning the relegation battle 11-9 at home in Southknock.
On Sunday, Malahide are at home to New Ross, Kilkenny host Portlaoise and Clane entertain Mullingar.
Railway Union beat Arklow 25-18 at home in Park Avenue on Saturday, and the Dublin 4 club will win Division 2B on Sunday if they prevail at third-placed Edenderry who are battling for second with neighbours North Kildare (idle this weekend).
Division 3 could also be decided this weekend as impressive leaders Wexford Wanderers will be crowned champions if they beat second-placed Birr at home in Park Lane on Sunday.