Keane rescues Malahide
Leinster Club Rugby
Malahide overcame stubborn resistance in Kilkenny to maintain their four-point advantage at the top of Division 1A of the Leinster League, while second placed Enniscorthy impressed in winning their local derby against Gorey.
A couple of late tries helped secure the bonus point 34-29 victory for the North County Dublin club and also helped them avoid what would have been a major shock as the division's bottom club led by two points heading into the final quarter.
Out-half Conal Keane scored all of Malahide's points in the first half, converting his own early try and adding a pair of penalties as the visitors led 13-12 at the break.
Full back Dave Monahan extended the lead with a try after the resumption before the home side, having scored a pair of tries in the opening half, edged ahead with another touchdown, and an upset was very much on the cards in Foulkstown.
However, with the game in the melting pot No 8 Enda McCarthy and wing forward John Shine touched down for the game-clinching tries before Kilkenny added another at the death that secured them two precious points in their fight against relegation.
Enniscorthy's 32-0 home win at Ross Road ended Gorey's five-match unbeaten run, and the four tries they scored to earn the bonus point keeps them in touch with the leaders as there is now a break ahead of the final two games in early March when Division 1A concludes with Malahide's visit to Enniscorthy in what is shaping up to be a winner-takes-all league decider.
Flanker Greg Jacob and winger David O'Dwyer scored a try apiece late in the first half that helped the hosts into a 12-0 interval lead and the maximum haul of points was obtained when back-rows Tom Ryan and Nick Doyle scored second-half tries.
Monkstown remain three points clear of Kilkenny in the relegation battle but despite picking up two points in an agonising 28-22 loss at home in Sydney Parade to De La Salle Palmerston they were bitterly disappointed after being deprived of victory by a last-minute converted try.
Ashbourne won their North East derby away to Dundalk 25-14 scoring four tries as the Meath club returned to winning ways ahead of next Saturday's Ulster Bank All-Ireland Junior Cup final - their first decider - where they face Enniscorthy in Donnybrook.
Elsewhere, Wicklow won Division 1B on Sunday when they beat Clondalkin 16-13 after last year missing out on promotion.