MALAHIDE RFC are one win away from a place in Division 2B of the All-Ireland League following their impressive away win over near neighbours Skerries 34-22 in their promotion/relegation playoff tussle at Holmpatrick.
It means they face a playoff final against Bruff with a ticket to the fourth tier on the line, continuing their rapid ascent out of the Leinster leagues into the national competitions with Skerries potentially going the other way.
In front of a big crowd in Skerries, the hosts started well when Kevin McGrath raced through to score under the posts and Robbie Jenkinson tacked on the conversion for a 7-0 lead in the early stages.
Jenkinson added a penalty to continue their strong start to the tie with Malahide struggling to get their hands on the ball for much of the first quarter.
But they soon started to grab some possessions and make a few line breaks to give Skerries plenty to think about.
They got on the board when Danie Poolman cut through and Shane O’Brien was successful with the conversion to significantly reduce the deficit and it was level before the break with O’Brien clearing the bar with a tricky penalty effort for 10 points each.
The Estuary Road club carried that momentum through to the second half when they produced a dominant scrum and, off the back of it, it unlocked the door for Barry Holland to get through for his side’s second try.
Again, O’Brien cleared the bar for a telling 17-10 lead and it got even better for Malahide when he scored his fourth successful kick, a penalty to make it double scores.
And they were virtually out of sight when Holland crossed wide on the right wing for their third try. With O’Brien’s immaculate boot adding another two points, it made it 27 unanswered points for Malahide, putting them on the brink of victory.
Skerries finally forged a response via McGrath’s excellent work, weaving his way through for a try which he converted himself to set a few nerves jangling.
But the Malahide response was perfect, killing off any outside hopes of a comeback when Dan Hayes crossed the whitewash and O’Brien was accurate once more for a 34-17 lead with precious little time remaining.
Skerries did get a third try in the dying minutes but the glory was Malahide’s and they now march on for a date with Bruff.
They will meet the Limerick side on Saturday in Kilballyowen Park, a venue where they lost 32-17 earlier in the season but they did win their first meeting 17-14 and so will anticipate a close-run battle.