Bonus point home victory not enough as Kilkenny relegated on final day of the season

It was always going to be a tough challenge.

Heading into this weekend, Kilkenny team manager Packie Hennebry had outlined the task ahead of Gordon Rowe’s men on Sunday in facing DLSP – get a bonus point win, and hope Dundalk keep Monkstown from doing the same.

When you’ve got elements like that, Dundalk and Monkstown, that you can’t control, that’s where things get tricky.

Kilkenny did their part. They lead every step of the way. Up by two penalties early in the first half followed by two tries and Kilkenny were heading into the break 18/8.

Before today, the home side only had two wins from thirteen and weren’t comfortable in closing out games. Of course, when you’re faced with the prospects of relegation, things change. Two more tries (not converted) would follow for Kilkenny, similarly for DLSP, but close out the game they would on a 28-23 scoreline.

Bonus point achieved, win achieved.

But when the result came through from Mill Road, joy turned back to disappointment.

Monkstown hit a bonus point win of their own over Dundalk, 22-18 to book a place in the play-offs against Clondalkin while Kilkenny pack their bags to head to Division 1B after two seasons in 1A.

In a season where changes needed to be made on the pitch, players were lost to moves and long-term injuries, a move back to Sunday rugby for Kilkenny may be a welcome reset after two mixed runs on Saturdays.

Elsewhere Gorey claimed a 17-12 win over Ashbourne at Clonattin while Malahide were crowned champions for 2017 with a slender 17-16 win over last year’s winners Enniscorthy. Malahide now progress to the round robin stages where a berth in the AIL awaits the winners.