Club rugby: Malahide eye AIL step up
Malahide completed an impressive pillar-to-post Leinster League Division 1A success when they were crowned champions on Sunday after a 17-16 win away in Ross Road against their nearest challengers Enniscorthy.
It's now on to the next part of the journey for the north Dublin club as they start the battle for Ulster Bank League status via the All-Ireland Provincial League Championship, more affectionately known as the AIL Round Robin.
Malahide have drawn the short straw with two away games, kicking off in Omagh tomorrow week before a home fixture against Clonmel a week later and then there's a break for Easter before they finish up in Ballina on April 22.
On Sunday in Enniscorthy, the visitors were in control for long periods and despite conceding an opening penalty goal they equalised through a similar effort from out-half Conal Keane who then scored the only try of the first half, which he converted. A penalty goal just before the half-time whistle reduced the arrears to four points as the visitors led 10-6 at the break, and they were 11 clear soon after the resumption when Keane added the extras to full-back Dave Mongan's try.
Enniscorthy replied with a pair of tries from full-back Ross Barbour and centre Daniel Pim but failed to add the conversions, meaning it was a bridge too far for the Wexford side.
De La Salle Palmerston finished third despite losing 28-23 in Kilkenny and the Noresiders ended up being relegated when Monkstown snatched a late try to win 22-18 at Dundalk and qualify for the promotion/relegation play-off with Division 1B runners-up Clondalkin (Kirwan Park, tomorrow).
Gorey used home advantage to beat Ashbourne 17-12 in the remaining Division 1A game that edged them into fourth place and grabbed the final All-Ireland Junior Cup qualifying spot from their visitors.
The final Towns Cup third-round tie will also be played on Sunday when Enniscorthy host the holders Wicklow in a repeat of last year's final and the semi-final draw will be conducted immediately afterwards as Tullow and Skerries await their fate.
Tullow comprehensively beat North Kildare 50-0 at home in Black Gates but Skerries had to rely on a late try scored by second-row forward Sean Attley to overcome Clondalkin 21-16 at home in Holmpatrick.
Meanwhile, Suttonians play Co Carlow in the Division 1B/2A play-off at Edenderry Rugby Club, Newbridge and Wexford Wanderers are at Tullow Rugby Club in the Division 2A/2B play-off, while it's Ardee against Midland Warriors in the Division 2B/3 spot at Swords.