Ballymena's promotion hopes were extinguished at Eaton Park when Garryowen kept their hopes of going up alive by prevailing 17-5.
The Braidmen were never really in the game with the visitors managing to build on their 8-0 half-time lead -through a James McInerney try and Jamie Galvin penalty - with three further Galvin penalties seeing the Limerick side build their lead to 17-0.
Only in the closing minutes did Andy Graham's side get things going when Callum Patterson crossed the line for an excellent score but he then failed to convert from what was a difficult angle and Ballymena had to simply accept the end of their aspirations for finishing in the top two.
Also in Division 1B, matters were rather better for Belfast Harlequins as they put their relegation fears behind them with a 27-17 home victory over bottom side Corinthians.
Their third straight AIL win saw Quins fight back from being 10-0 down by managing 27 points without reply with centre Mark Best managing a total of 17 - from a try, and an unblemished record from the tee of three conversions and two penalties - while Fijian Junior Bulumakau came away with a brace of well taken tries.
The result saw Quins stay in sixth, but Adam Larkin's men - who had Neil McComb and Sean Reidy in their ranks - now cannot be caught by the bottom three sides.
Malone are one of those three struggling teams now fighting to stay up and their prospects shipped further damage as leaders Galwegians left Gibson Park with maximum points after winning 31-5 and scoring four tries.
Up in Division 1A, Ballynahinch's play-off hopes could now be holed below the waterline after their bid to win for the first time this season outside Ballymacarn Park ended rather badly with struggling Old Belvedere hammering them 40-14.
Fifth-placed Hinch conceded five tires and only scored two, which were both claimed by Rodger McBurney.