Malahide steamroll Royals
Malahide have never been among the giants of the game in the province but the north county Dublin club has suddenly propelled itself to the Leinster League favourite's throne after the 71-13 demolition job they performed on Ashbourne at their Estuary Road home last Saturday.
The Co Meath club finished a creditable third in Division 1A last season and while they may have been missing some players, the 10-try hammering they endured was not on anyone's radar in advance.
Having won Division 1B last season Malahide recruited prodigiously over the summer and Saturday's starting XV featured half a dozen players with significant AIL experience and their back line may be the deal-breaker when it comes to winning the Eddie Egan Trophy next March.
Winger Marcus McAllister led the way with four tries, there was a brace of touchdowns apiece for full-back David Mongan and hooker Peter O'Connor while wing-forward John Shine and scrum-half Hugo Nolan each dotted down once.
Ashbourne opened the scoring with a penalty goal but trailed 40-8 at the interval to a six-try first-half barrage which continued relentlessly until the final whistle.
Elsewhere, defending champions Enniscorthy also secured maximum opening-day points when they beat their predecessors as Leinster League Division 1 winners Dundalk 27-19 at home in Ross Road.
Winger Hugh O'Neill, flank forward Greg Jacob and hooker Davy Murphy scored the tries that helped the home side to a 20-7 lead at the break and after Dundalk fought their way back into the contest, Jacob wrapped up the win when he added his second try.
Last season's runners-up Gorey scored a late penalty goal at home that edged De La Salle Palmerston 15-12 in the day's tightest game.
Hooker Barry O'Connor scored the only try of the first half as the home side led 5-0 at the break before full-back David Shannon added another with a quarter of an hour to play that started a glut of late scores.
The visitors quickly responded with a pair of rapid-fire tries to draw level and just when it seemed as if they would return to Kilternan with a share of the spoils up popped Shannon with the game-winning penalty goal two minutes from the end. Meanwhile, Kilkenny made it a clean sweep for home teams as they withstood a late Monkstown challenge to notch up a 28-22 win.
Out-half Rory McInerney and centre Podge Mahon each touched down for the Marble City club as they led 18-5 at half-time and a further Mahon try gave Kilkenny the cushion to hold off the late charge by the visitors.
Tomorrow Malahide cross the city to take on De La Salle Palmerston at Kirwan Park, Dundalk welcome Kilkenny to Mill Road, Gorey travel to Sydney Parade to play Monkstown and Ashbourne entertain Enniscorthy at Milltown House.
The other four Leinster League Divisions get under way on Sunday and the visit of Bank of Ireland Towns Cup winners Wicklow to Tullow's fortress at Black Gates in a Division 1B local derby is the opening day's most eye-catching tie.