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RE/MAX Leinster League Weekend Preview Week 4

Division 3

North Kildare provided the shock of the last weekend heading to previous unbeaten Clane and coming away with the spoils, the match winner being Ivan Stynes. Stynes is an impressive player and he will score many more tries this season. This was a typical derby game and the win here could propel North Kildare on to greater things. After the early season turmoil, credit must be given to the new coaching team of Sean Brady and Ross Brady, assisted by current North Kildare player and former St Mary's Captain David Clare. On current form North Kildare will be too strong for Clondalkin and could even pick up a bonus point.

Clane have a tough trip ahead of them as they face a trip over the mountains to league favourites Rathdrum. This is one of the top 2 Division 3 ties this week and home advantage should be enough to see Rathdrum home in what will be a tight low scoring game. The other big game this weekend will be Arklow versus Athy, both of whom will be 100% committed. Something's got to give and I have a feeling Athy are in a false position, and home advantage at The Oval should be enough to see Arklow home.

One team that is starting to make shapes at the top is Swords and even though they face a long trip down to the sunny South East they should return with 5 points in the bag. The North County Dublin derby of Malahide versus Balbriggan should be an interesting clash and I think the Hide might spring a surprise and win this one. In the weekend's final game Birr should get off the mark as CYM make the long trip down to Birr.

Division 2

Many expected Portarlington to return with the spoils last week, which shows you how far they have come since their early season turmoil. With Billy Walsh pulling the strings and Armand Smit showing good form in the centre, they should have too much fire power for what has been a disappointing Longford side so far.

Far from disappointing has been Tullow's return to Division 2, they have shown some good form and put an impressive 32 points up on New Ross. Captain Derek Vance will however need to have his troops primed for their visit to West Dublin. Coolmine look like they turned a corner. Notorious slow starters, Coolmine should win what will be a tight game. Ex-Tullow coach Bernard Jackman currently coaches Coolmine, something which will as always add an extra little bit of spice to the encounter.

In the midlands derby down in Carbury, home advantage should be enough for Edenderry to collect the points. This week should see Kilkenny get back on track and Roscrea should make it 2 wins in a row.

The big contest this weekend in Division 2 however is the visit of Enniscorthy to Newbridge. Enniscorthy went down last year without a whimper but looked to have regained their appetite. Rumour has it Johnny Murphy is back playing, add in Declan O'Brien and Enniscorthy certainly don't lack for experience. Rosetown is a difficult venue and probably has one of the worst pitches in Leinster. The pitch suits the home sides marauding pack, led by the very talented Rory O'Connor. Pale Nonu is the centre and although a limited player, does generate excellent go forward ball and with veterans like Richie Larkin around to apply the finishing touches Newbridge could be taking a big step towards Division 1 next season.

Division 1

This Division is starting to take shape and last week no real surprises were sprung except maybe down in Spollenstown where a depleted Seapoint came away with the points. It was a disappointing result for Tullamore who had hoped for great things this season but with 2 home losses already they're definitely out of the title race. They should still have too much for a young Monkstown side who have only one victory this season and could find themselves in the bottom three pretty quickly. Wicklow probably should have at least one victory under their belts and are playing some good expansive rugby. Skerries still aren't at full strength and I'd expect Shaun McCarty, fully recovered from injury to be the difference between the sides.

Only 3 games into the season and Garda versus Portlaoise has dead rubber written all over it. With Alan Kingsley doing so well for Garryowen, Portlaoise can only wonder what if. The Guards as always, to make home advantage count and to take all the points in what will only be a game for the purist.

The non-purist however has a choice of games to go to, first up is the always entertaining Seapoint at home to Ashbourne. Ashbourne have failed to realise that good forwards only get you so far, to be competitive in this division you need a backline and this will be pretty obvious to them come 4 pm Sunday as Seapoint will win and should run in enough tries for a bonus.

Next up for the non-purist is the Louth Derby. Expect tries, penalties and yellow cards galore as there is no love lost between these clubs. Also expect the club that retains it's discipline to win it but with Dan Van Zyl and Stephen McGee, Dundalk do have the edge out wide so it's really too tough to call.

A game not as hard to call but mouth watering all the same is perhaps the surprise package of the year Cill Dara's visit to Navan. With players of the calibre of Killian Kennedy, Ryan Roberts and Simon Donnelly from Navan and Sila Va'enuku, Regan Sheppard and Jack Ryan from Cill Dara we could be in for a classic, in fact Cill Dara's three games so far have averaged roughly 45 points a game. Surprisingly, it's up front that Navan probably have the edge with John Duffy returning from Clontarf and coach Brad Harris they have shrewd operators and this should see Navan home in a high scoring game.

by Daniel Quinn, © 2007-11-09