Dundalk's rousing fightback earns a share of the spoils
Kilkenny 14 Dundalk 14
Dundalk produced one of their best halves of rugby of the season to stage a brilliant comeback against Kilkenny, but the victory they needed to leapfrog their hosts proved agonisingly elusive on a dreadful day for rugby in the Marble City.
Dundalk can still work their way out of the trouble on the final day of the season, but their fate is no longer entirely in their own hands.
They now need to beat Boyne at home and secure a bonus point in the process, and then hope that Wicklow can defeat Bective and deny the Dubliners a losing bonus point.
If that unlikely permutation doesn't materialise, Dundalk will be heading for a play-off with Division 1B promotion hopefuls Longford.
But even a play-off victory might not guarantee survival as the introduction of another Leinster team from the AIL could see both Dundalk and Boyne relegated automatically.
With four games to play Seapoint are currently second from bottom in the AIL bottom tier and if they lose their relegation fight, space will have to made for them in Division 1A.
To muddy the waters further, AIL promotion for Enniscorthy would create an extra space in Division 1A and if Seapoint were to also survive,
Dundalk could even hang on in their current position.
Dundalk will feel they could have kept control of their own destiny with a win in Kilkenny, however.
Against a gale force wind and driving rain they curtailed Kilkenny's attacking threat quite well in the opening half.
The home side crossed for a couple of identical tries off five-metre scrums and converted both, but a Darragh Conroy penalty late in the half kept Dundalk in the game at the break, 14-3.
And the visitors attacked Kilkenny from the off after the break and were rewarded with a first ever senior try form Ciaran Lenehan.
Conroy missed the conversion, but made amends with two further penalties to level the match.
Try as they might Dundalk couldn't find that priceless extra score.
A superb kick ahead by James McConnon just drifted too far and in the closing stages Dundalk tried in vain to work a drop goal attempt for Conroy.
Local pride is at stake this weekend as Dundalk face relegated Boyne and while their league status is still very much up in the air they also have a Towns Cup quarter-final date with Wicklow to look forward to.
Dundalk: Robert Williams, Ciaran Lenehan, Sam Weber, Jonathan Williams, Paddy Reilly, Mike Walls, Darragh Conroy, Johnny Grey, Sean Arrowmisth, Robert Farrell, Ben Mortimer, Enda Murphy, Alistair McCormack, Laurence Steen, Tiarnan Gonnelly. Replacements: Conor Williams, James McConnon, Ciaran Lennon, Derek Williams, Conor Hennessy.