CORK CONSTITUTION 23 DOLPHIN 13, Temple Hill
Scorers: Cork Constitution: Tries: Cronan Healy, Tom Gleeson, Duncan Williams; Con: Daragh Lyons; Pens: Scott Deasy 2 Dolphin: Try: Sam Cronin; Con: Barry Keeshan; Pens: Barry Keeshan 2
With defending champions Shannon slipping up at home to Garryowen, Dolphin's final day defeat did not alter their position of third in the Division 1A table.
Interestingly, with Cork Con confirmed in top spot, the Cork sides will meet again at Temple Hill in next Saturday's top flight semi-final (kick-off 2.30pm).
This highly-charged clash saw Constitution start with the wind at their backs but Munster full-back Scott Deasy fluffed his lines by missing two early penalties.
He opened the scoring from a 35-metre effort and a try from winger Cronan Healy steadied the hosts at 8-0, while Dolphin full-back Niall O'Driscoll was in the sin-bin.
Seven minutes before the break, Munster centre Tom Gleeson broke through for his third try in two games, grounding the ball just before the end line following a neat grubber kick from out-half Daragh Lyons.
Lyons added the conversion, and 14-man Dolphin were in danger of collapsing. They had been on the defensive for most of the opening half, and a tense battle ensued up front.
Cork Con had the firepower behind the scrum to take their chances, and it was no surprise when fit-again scrum half Duncan Williams claimed try number three, with Munster prop Stephen Archer playing his part in the build-up.
Penalties either side of half-time from captain Barry Keeshan closed the gap for Dolphin to 20-6, and the visitors, with plenty to play for, had the better of the second period despite losing lock Chris Rowe to an early yellow card.
Steve Ford's men collected their one and only try when number 8 Robbie Allen made a fine break and scrum half Sam Cronin was up in support to score his fourth try of the league campaign.
Keeshan's conversion made it a seven-point game but the final points came from Deasy who landed his second penalty in the 75th minute.
It is testament to Constitution's consistency that this is the fourth successive season that they have finished top of the table in the league's regulation phase.
The knockout stages are notoriously tricky to negotiate, but Brian Walsh's charges, with the AIB Cup already in the trophy cabinet, are well placed to go after the ultimate prize.
CORK CONSTITUTION: Scott Deasy; Richie Lane, Tom Gleeson, Evan Ryan (capt), Cronan Healy; Daragh Lyons, Duncan Williams; Martin Gately, Robert Quinn, Stephen Archer, Merle O'Connell, Ian Nagle, Ed Leamy, Peter O'Mahony, Frank Cogan.
Replacements used: Alex Ryan, Gareth Murray, Brian Hayes.
DOLPHIN: Niall O'Driscoll; Rory Kenneally, Eric Moloney, Danny Barnes, Paul Hurley; Barry Keeshan (capt), Sam Cronin; Dave Ryan, Andy O'Riordan, Christy Condon, Chris Rowe, Kyle O'Dwyer, Fraser Stone, George Finn, Robbie Allen.
Replacements used: Ciaran Murray, Cormac O'Flynn, Kevin Lynch, Dave Nathan.
Referee: Leo Colgan (IRFU)