DOLPHIN 18 SHANNON 13, Musgrave Park
Scorers: Dolphin: Tries: George Finn, Rory Kenneally; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 2
Shannon: Try: Stephen Kelly; Con: Andrew Thompson; Pens: David O?Donovan, Andrew Thompson
Although it was the Corkmen?s eighth straight victory at Musgrave Park, the losing bonus point still moved Shannon back into second place.
George Finn's eighth-minute try helped Dolphin lead 10-0 at half-time.
Shannon got it back to 13-13 with a Stephen Kelly try and two penalties from David O?Donovan and Andrew Thompson but a late Rory Kenneally touchdown rescued the points for the hosts.
The win sees Dolphin close the gap on fourth-placed Clontarf to two points with just two rounds of matches remaining in the league?s regulation phase.
Shannon started with just one of their Munster-contracted players, full-back Mossie Lawlor, while Dolphin were able to call upon the services of inspirational number 8 James Coughlan, who came off the bench to score a try in Munster's demolition of Ulster on Friday night.
The game was predictably dominated by the forward exchanges, with both packs battling hard to gain the upper hand. There was a lot of turnover ball in the opening half with Dolphin faring slightly the better.
The hosts opened the scoring in the eighth-minute when blindside flanker Finn managed to block a kick as Shannon attempted to clear off a scrum and the Dolphin captain was able to collect the loose ball and dot down.
Shannon began to settle more in the second quarter but they remained scoreless as the Dolphin pack kept them at bay and out of striking range.
Both sides lost a player to the sin-bin in the opening half - Shannon centre Andrew Thompson saw yellow and Dolphin?s Fergus McCormack followed him soon after.
The visitors made the better start to the second period, with David O'Donovan booting a 42nd-minute penalty. Keeshan replied with his second penalty but Shannon then worked winger Stephen Kelly over for a fine try on the hour mark.
Full-back Lawlor took the ball on at pace, right on his own 22, and he made considerable ground before releasing Kelly to scorch down the touchline and over for his sixth try of the league campaign.
Thompson converted for Shannon, who also had to cope with losing hooker Sean Cronin to the sin-bin for ten minutes.
Thompson took his points tally for the season to 104 when he clipped a 70th-minute penalty through the uprights to square up the game at 13-13 and set up a grandstand finish.
By that stage, Shannon had brought their Munster back rower Jake Paringatai into the fray but Dolphin, despite a late drop goal miss from Keeshan, were able to come up with the game-breaking play.
With just a minute remaining in normal time, full-back Denis McCarthy broke clear into space and his well-timed pass put centre Rory Kenneally charging over for what could prove to be the most important try of Dolphin's season.