Clarke points the way as Antrim celebrate Joe McDonagh Cup glory with win over Kerry

Antrim 0-22
Kerry 1-17

ANTRIM’S SUPREMACY OVER Kerry continued on their most important day of 2020 as they prevailed in the Joe McDonagh Cup final that started off the day’s hurling action in Croke Park.

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Antrim’s Niall McKenna with Eric Leen of Kerry.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tipperary’s Darren Gleeson enjoyed a triumphant day on the sideline in his managerial post, four years after he had stood between the posts on a successful All-Ireland final day with his native county.

The Antrim boss saw attacker Ciarán Clarke produce a brilliant point-scoring display as he was highly reliable from frees all afternoon. Niall McKenna gave a wonderful performance at wing-forward and Neil McManus made a big impact off the bench in the second half. Further back the resilience of Matthew Donnelly and Eoghan Campbell was key.

That helped Antrim overcome a half-time deficit as they reeled Kerry in. The Kingdom were 1-7 to 0-9 to the good at the interval, that advantage founded on the only goal of the game that arrived in the 20th minute.

Shane Nolan floated in a left-wing delivery that deceived Antim defender Donnelly and Mikey Boyle showed the opportunism to wait in behind before finishing simply to the net.

GOAL!!! Mikey Boyle finds the back of the net for @Kerry_Official pic.twitter.com/MJlSc3abiV

— The GAA (@officialgaa) December 13, 2020

Shane Conway was Kerry’s shining light in attack as he struck 0-9. Only one of those was registered in open play yet he was fouled for a few of the frees he converted and his general trickery up front caused Antrim plenty problems.

Antrim began brightest as they pushed ahead by 0-6 to 0-2 after the first quarter. Yet the goal helped Kerry claw their way back into contention to leave them in the ascendancy at half-time.

Then Antrim emerged for the second half in a forceful fashion with six points without reply giving them a strong platform. Kerry tried to make inroads in the closing stages and cut the gap to two on a few occasions but Antrim were capable of keeping them at arm’s length to succeed.

Scorers for Antrim: Ciaran Clarke 0-11 (0-8f), Neil McManus 0-4 (0-2 ’65, 0-1f), Niall McKenna, Conal Cunning 0-2 each, James McNaughton, Conor McCann, Michael Bradley 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kerry: Shane Conway 0-9 (0-8f), Mikey Boyle 1-0, Michael O’Leary, Daniel Collins 0-2 each, Paudie O’Connor, Colm Harty, Padraig Boyle, Brendan O’Leary 0-1 each.

Antrim

1. Ryan Elliott (Cuchullains Dunloy)

2. Phelim Duffin (Cuchullains Dunloy)
3. Matthew Donnelly (Ballycastle McQuillan’s)
4. Stephen Rooney (St Paul’s)

5. Gerard Walsh (O’Donovan Rossa)
6. Paddy Burke (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
7. Joe Maskey (Naomh Éanna)

8. Eoghan Campbell (Ruairí Óg Cushendall)
9. Keelan Molloy (Cuchullains Dunloy)

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10. Niall McKenna (Padraig Sarsfields)
11. James McNaughton (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
12. Michael Bradley (St John’s)

13. Daniel McCloskey (Loughgiel Shamrocks)
14. Conor McCann (Creggan Kickhams)
15. Ciarán Clarke (Ballycastle McQuillan’s)

Subs

26. Conal Cunning (Dunloy) for McCloskey (half-time)
22. Neil McManus (Cushendall) for Molloy (44)
24. Donal Nugent (St John’s) for Rooney (44)
23. Conor Johnston (St John’s) for Bradley (64)
20 Aodhán O’Brien (O’Donovan Rossa) for McKenna (69)

Kerry

1. John B O’Halloran (Kilmoyley)

2. Bryan Murphy (Causeway – captain)
3. Tomás O’Connor (Crotta O’Neills)
4. Eric Leen (St Brendan’s)

5. Jason Diggins (Causeway)
6. Fionán Mackessy (St Brendan’s)
7. Michael Leane (Ballyheigue)

8. Brandon Barrett (Causeway)
9. Paudie O’Connor (Kilmoyley)

10. Michael O’Leary (Abbeydorney)
11. Shane Nolan (Crotta O’Neills)
12. Shane Conway (Lixnaw)

13. Daniel Collins (Kilmoyley)
14. Mikey Boyle (Ballyduff)
15. Maurice O’Connor (Kilmoyley)

Subs

26. Barry O’Mahony (Crotta O’Neills) for Maurice O’Connor (42)
19. Padraig Boyle (Ballyduff) for Paudie O’Connor (49)
18. Colm Harty (Causeway) for Mikey Boyle (55)
21. Brendan O’Leary (Abbeydorney) for Barrett (66)

Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway)

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