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Ballynahinch stay in promotion hunt

AIL Division One Round-up

By Michael Sadlier

It was a mixed penultimate day with the positives seeing Ballynahinch winning away to stay in the hunt to make the Division 1A play-offs and Belfast Harlequins downing previous leaders Galwegians in 1B's 11-try thriller at Deramore.

But Malone were relegated from 1B after defeat at promotion-chasing Garryowen while Ballymena, who were once in the chase to make it back into 1A before dropping to mid-table, lost at Shannon.

While the most notable result was Hinch's first away win of the campaign, 35-28 at now relegated Dolphin, it was hard to ignore the drama at Deramore where Quins put a dent into Galwegians' automatic promotion hopes by prevailing 36-34.

Quins blitzed the Connacht side in the opening half by scoring five tries through Mark McGrath, Tom Fraser, the impressive Sean Reidy, Frank Taggart and Mark Glover to lead 33-5 at the turnaround.

From there, it looked like a nailed-on bonus point win for coach Adam Larkin's men and particularly so when Michael Heaney replied to the visitors' second try with a penalty which made it 36-12 and was followed by a red card shown to Galwegians' Colin Conry.

But the Connacht side hit back by scoring 22 unanswered points through four tries but, crucially, just one conversion. A last minute penalty gave them a shot at snatching a dramatic victory only for Aidan Moynihan to miss his fifth kick from seven and giving Quins their fourth straight AIL victory.

Meanwhile, Hinch can secure their play-off spot on Saturday week's final day with a win when they host third-placed Clontarf who have already qualified.

Malone exited the top flight after losing 34-12 at Garryowen with UL Bohemians' convincing win at Buccaneers sealing the Gibson Park side's fate.

Elsewhere, Ballymena managed a losing bonus point from their 18-11 defeat.

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