Westmeath beat Antrim in Kehoe Cup final shoot-out
Westmeath 2-20 Antrim 1-23 (Westmeath win penalty shoot-out 3-0)
ANTRIM manager Neal Peden was unhappy at the penalty shoot-out method used to settle Saturday’s entertaining Kehoe Cup final in Abbotstown, with Westmeath winning it 3-0 to claim the trophy.
“I think it’s a very unsatisfactory way to decide a game,'' said the St John's man.
“I think lads deserve extra-time and a chance to win it out on the pitch, but I can understand that they don’t want replays. They are looking for some method to finish the game, but it wouldn’t be an answer for me.”
Spectators in the resplendent complex were unsure what was happening when the teams finished on level terms, but fading light dictated that the novel idea be used to settle what had been an absorbing final.
Westmeath started the contest the better. Aided by an Allan Devine point after a mere 40 seconds, the midlanders were four unanswered points to the good after just three minutes, and they retained that advantage (0-6 to 0-2) with 10 minutes elapsed.
However, Antrim settled and, with James McNaughton on target from frees and open play, they deservedly led by 0-11 to 0-9 at the break. It would have been a bigger lead had Paddy Carroll not kept out a rasping shot from Nigel Elliott in the 13th minute.
This comeback delighted their manager, who stated: “I’m so pleased the way the boys reacted when Westmeath went four points within a few minutes to come back into the game.”
The second half was a very lively affair with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions. A point just 30 seconds after play resumed by Rice, and three more from McNaughton, had the Glensmen in front by five points (0-15 to 0-10) after 45 minutes, but six points without reply from the Lake County men – including a hat-trick of monster frees by Niall Mitchell – edged them ahead.
Devine’s 55th-minute goal put Westmeath in front by 1-16 to 0-17, but Nigel Elliott responded two minutes later to hand the initiative back to Antrim. A wonderful save by Ryan Elliott from Darragh Clinton on the hour helped his side to a five-point advantage with three minutes of normal time remaining. However, Devine’s second goal (following a long delivery from Gary Greville), a point from Clinton, and a wonderful last-gasp strike by Killian Doyle ensured a shoot-out.
Westmeath won the shootout 3-0, with successful strikes from Mitchell, Devine and Doyle, while McNaughton, Nicky McKeague and Keelan Molloy (whose shot was saved by Carroll) all missed from the spot for Antrim.
Overall, Peden took a lot of positives from the display.
“I’m well pleased overall with the performance we put in,” he said, “as our young lads got a high intensity game against a good side like Westmeath, and that’s what we came here for.
“Credit to Westmeath, they showed great strength to come back from five points down late on, even if we were tiring a little at that stage. We are looking forward to playing them again in the National League and the Joe McDonagh Cup. We learned a lot from today’s game.”
His opposite number, Joe Quaid, was keen to stress that Division 2A of the league was his priority, and he was pragmatic about Saturday’s victory.
Describing Doyle’s equaliser on the stroke of full-time as “outrageous”, the Limerick man added, “silverware is silverware whatever way you get it, and while I am not overly enamoured with the display we put in, it’s nice to win a trophy. We looked dead and buried with two or three minutes to go.”
“The most pleasing aspect of this is that we used so many subs and each one that came on made a massive contribution. That’s what we are about at the moment, trying to build a panel. It was proven today that a panel is invaluable. It was men against men out there. It was manly stuff and some big hits went in, and I was delighted the way our lads stood up.”
Westmeath: P Carroll; J Gilligan, T Doyle, N McKenna; J Bermingham, A Craig, G Greville; R Greville, S Power (0-1); S Clavin, C Shaw, A Devine (2-3); K Doyle (0-4), N Mitchell (0-5, all frees), D Clinton (0-5)
Subs: S McGovern (0-1) for Power (h-t), A Clarke for Shaw (h-t), J Galvin (0-1) for McKenna (h-t), P Greville for Gilligan (47), D O’Reilly for Clavin (65), P Reilly for Craig (67), K Regan for Bermingham (70), E Corrigan for Mitchell (70), R Gillen for G Greville (70 + 2)
Antrim: R Elliott; S Rooney, J Dillon (0-1), P Duffin; R Molloy, C McHugh, M Donnelly; C McCann (0-1), K Rice (0-2); N Elliott (1-3), J McNaughton (0-9, six frees), N McKeague; J O’Connell, K Molloy (0-4), C Clarke (0-1). Subs: E O’Neill (0-2) for Clarke (30), D McKinley for O’Connell (44), C Boyd for Rice (inj., 55), S Duffin for McKeague (61), C Patterson for Molloy (70)
Referee: R Fitzsimons (Offaly)