It wasn't long before the visitors were on the board after a Rob Guerin penalty in the twenty-second minute. Shannon upped the pressure on the home side and were finally rewarded when Fergal Walsh drove over the line. The conversion attempt fell just wide. Dolphin were reduced to fourteen men, when Danny Barnes was shown a yellow card just before the break and Guerin reduced the gap to 15-11 with a penalty in the closing minutes of the half.
Shannon started the second half with great intensity and Guerin added a further three points with a penalty in the forty-sixth minute. Dolphin were back on the attack and when Chris Rowe picked the ball from the back of the ruck, he slipped through the Shannon defence to cross the whitewash almost unnoticed. With the conversion courtesy of Keeshan the home side lead 22-14.
Minutes later Dolphin earned a penalty from a scrum and Keeshan extended the lead to 25-14 in the fifty-fourth minute. Just when Shannon looked like they were about to break they were impeded by James Cronin. He was sent to the bin and Guerin closed the gap to 25-17 with the penalty. The visitors missed the chance to reduce the scoreline even further when a penalty attempt hit the upright.
It was an enthralling second half that could have swung either way and when Dolphin's Darren O' Shea made a surging break, passing to Cian Bohane who popped back to O' Shea, his final pass to captain Niall Scannell looked like being a try, but fell just short of line. From the breakdown, the ball was spread back out wide and Bohane was once again instrumental in Dolphin's backline attack. Looping back inside following his pass to Keeshan to pass the ball back out to Mills who sent James Kiernan in for the bonus point try. Two more points from the boot of Barry Keeshan brought the final scoreline to 32-17.
Dolphin: Eamon Mills, James Kiernan, Danny Barnes, Cian Bohane, John Gleeson, Barry Keeshan, Brian Slater, James Cronin, Niall Scannell (Captain), Christy Condon, Dave O'Mahoney, Darren O'Shea, Rob O'Herlihy, Sean Dougal, Miah Cronin Replacements: Will Foley, Dave Hartnett, Chris Rowe, Chris Bannon, Garrett O'Suilleabhain.
Shannon: James Loxton, Mike Darcy, Eric Moloney, Richard Mulane, David Donovan, Tadgh Bennett, Rob Guerin, Marcus Horan, Duncan Casey, Gary McNamara, Fergal Walsh, Emmet McLoughlan, Mike Cullane, James Murphy, John Shine Replacements: Jason Cronin, Mark Corby, Leonard Mulane, Shane McNamara, Ciaran Cunnane.
Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: Eamon Mills, Rob O' Herlihy, Chris Rowe, James Kiernan; Cons: Barry Keeshan (3); Pens: Barry Keeshan (2) Shannon: Try: Fergal Walsh; Pens: Rob Guerin (4)
Paul O'Connell played his first full eighty minutes since last October but even his efforts were not sufficient to earn a win for Young Munster at home to Cork Constitution.
While the Lions skipper relished getting in game time it was a disappointing result for his club, who were denied right at the end by the Cork side. Derry O' Connor kicked penalties for Young Munster after fifteen and twenty-five minutes but on the half hour Cork Con got in for the opening try. They moved the ball wide and Niall O' Driscoll got in at the corner.
Three minutes later Cons suffered a big blow when second row Ian Nagle was shown a yellow card but Young Munster could not make it count as they led 6-5 at halftime.
Referee Michael Black was replaced for the second half by Tommy O' Donoghue.
Young Munster looked to have the points earned when O' Connor kicked his third penalty with four minutes of normal time remaining with Cronan Healy being binned for a late tackle.
Cons came back and looked to have scored a try but were called back for a knock-on, but in the sixth minute of stoppage time Alex Ryan got over.
But the day was all about Paul O'Connell and the fact that he played the entire game will be a huge boost for Munster ahead of their Heineken Cup quarter-final as the iconic lock continues to be fit for the big game.
Scorers: Young Munster: Pens, Derry O'Connor (3); Cork Con: Tries: Niall O'Driscoll, Alex Ryan
Bottom club UL Bohemian, were given a hiding by Clontarf at Annacotty, despite an encouraging first half display.
Flanker Simon Crawford got the visitors off to a perfect start when he slipped in after only five minutes and fly-half Darragh Fitzpatrick landed the conversion. Clontarf doubled their score when winger Michael McGrath raced in and again Fitzpatrick added the extras.
It was even enough for the remainder of the first half at the end of which it stood at 14-0. But the floodgates opened subsequently and the UL Bohemian cause was not helped when Ed Kelly was shown a yellow card minutes after the restart.
McGrath was a constant threat and moved from one wing to another as he helped himself to two more tries after forty-four and fifty-four minutes with Fitzpatrick converting the first of them. Richie Lane went into action for 'Tarf and marked his arrival with a fifty-ninth minute try which he also converted.
With the bonus point tucked away it still did not tempt Clontarf into carelessness and Andrew D'Arcy had the next try, converted by Lane.
There was to be no hiding place for UL Bohemian who were punished again after seventy-six minutes with Matt D'Arcy getting a try which Lane again converted.
In the final minute Ben Martin nipped in for a try for the shattered Limerick side and he popped over the conversion but the issue was well decided before that
Scorers: UL Bohemian: Try: Ben Martin; Con: Ben Martin; Clontarf: Tries: Michael McGrath (3) Simon Crawford, Richie Lane, Adrian D'Arcy, Matthew D'Arcy; Cons: Richie Lane (3) Darragh Fitzpatrick (3)
Garryowen suffered a narrow defeat away to Old Belvedere when Daniel Riordan slotted a drop goal in the final minutes. The visitors trailed 12-9 at the break and Matt Jarvis levelled the sides five minutes into the second half with his fourth successful penalty kick of the day. A further penalty attempt from Jarvis hit the posts and Riordan's drop goal clinched the victory for the Leinster side.
While Lansdowne retained their fourteen point lead at the top of Division 1A following their 35-6 bonus point victory at home to St. Mary's College.
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Penalty try, Charlie Butterworth, Ron Boucher, Simon Morrissey
Cons: Craig Ronaldson (3); Pens: Craig Ronaldson (3)?St. Mary's College: Pens: Gavin Dunne (2)
Ulster Bank League Division 1A:
Dolphin 32 Shannon 17
Lansdowne 35 St. Mary's College 6
Old Belvedere 15 Garryowen 12
U.L. Bohemian 7 Clontarf 47
Young Munster 9 Cork Constitution 10
Ballynahinch 58 Malone 3
Belfast Harlequins 7 Dublin University 12
Blackrock College 21 Bruff 15
Dungannon 51 Ballymena 0
U.C.D. 19 Buccaneers 13