Hurling and camogie

Joe McDonagh Cup final - how Antrim and Kerry rated

The Antrim management team of Darren Gleeson, Johnny Campbell, Gary O'Kane and Jim Close celebrate with the Joe McDonagh Cup after yesterday's victory over Kerry. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

ANTRIM

Ryan Elliott: Could do little about Boyle’s goal but mixed up his puck-outs well, with Antrim profiting from his long deliveries in a strong start. 7

Phelim Duffin: Marshalled O’Connor and limited his influence. Found Boyle more of a handful when he came on and then picked up Conway for a spell towards the end. A solid performance. 7.5

Matthew Donnelly: Mistake led to the goal that brought Kerry back into the game, misjudging a floated ball into the square. Showed character to bounce back brilliantly, dominating Boyle for the rest of the game. 7.5

Stephen Rooney: A tenacious display. Edged his battle with Daniel Collins and didn’t let Nolan into the game when moved closer to goal. 7.5

Gerard Walsh: Started like a steam train and was influential throughout. The Rossa dual star showed his football skills with a brilliant pass into Clarke for a 15th minute point. 8

Paddy Burke: Made some vital interceptions and always cool in possession. Always reliable under the high ball. 7.5

Joe Maskey: Enjoyed a heavyweight tussle with the imposing O’Leary and wasn’t found wanting. 7

Eoghan Campbell: See Star Man

Keelan Molloy: Burst forward and got himself into some good positions, but wasn’t seen by team-mates. Found Paudie O’Connor hard work around the middle. Withdrawn nine minutes into the second half. 6.5

Niall McKenna: Posed Antrim’s greatest threat from deep, chose the wrong option a couple of times early on after engineering space, though his mishit shot almost found its way into the net in the dying minutes of the first half. Sensational as the Saffrons grabbed hold of the game after the break. 8.5

James McNaughton: His pace caused Kerry all kind of bother at Corrigan Park a month ago and the Kingdom weren’t about to let him exert the same kind of influence. Still roamed all over and won some crucial frees as Antrim got on top. 6.5

Michael Bradley: Scored eight from play in a sensational showing against Meath a few weeks back and had an intriguing battle with Leane – his first half score helping settle Antrim nerves in the moments after Kerry’s goal. 7

Daniel McCloskey: The Loughgiel man covered serious ground in the first half but struggled to get involved. Replaced at half-time. 6.5

Conor McCann: The Antrim captain wasn’t able to maintain his goalscoring purple patch of recent months, with Tomas O’Connor in commanding form. Replaced by Nugent. 6.5

Ciaran Clarke: Nerves were jangling when he sent a late free wide, but otherwise didn’t put a foot wrong. Bagged three from play and dead-eyed from frees, converting eight. 8

Substitutes

Conal Cunning: His pace and directness gave Antrim a different dimension. Brought down as burst towards the square and scored a classy point a minute later.7.5

Neil McManus: Hasn’t figured in county colours for two months but used his experience to calm Antrim down when brought on at midfield after the break. Landed a point, a 65 and two frees. 8

Domhnall Nugent: Marked his arrival with a shoulder that Tomas O’Connor might be feeling this morning. Gave Antrim a physical presence in the full-forward line and worked hard. 7

Conor Johnston: Worked two chances for himself but couldn’t convert. 6.5

Aodhan O’Brien: Not on long enough to be rated.

STAR MAN

Eoghan Campbell

THE Cushendall colossus was so solid around the middle, providing the platform for Antrim to grind this one out. Came out of so many rucks with the sliothar and always calm in possession. Been one of Antrim’s best this year, and finished 2020 with a flourish. 9

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KERRY

John B O’Halloran: Came in for the injured Martin Stackpoole, who broke his wrist in the final Joe McDonagh game against Carlow, and was solid throughout. Did well to just – just – clear McKenna’s mishit shot off the line in the first half. 7

Bryan Murphy: Battled back from a broken hand sustained in Belfast a month ago to start, but found Clarke’s movement hard to handle. Saw a pass intercepted for a McNaughton score before the first water break. 6

Tomas O’Connor: Big and strong, he did well on McCann, hardly giving the Creggan man a sniff. 7.5

Eric Leen: Shaded his battle with McCloskey in the first half but didn’t fare so well against the pace and purpose of second half sub Cunning. 6

Jason Diggins: Enjoyed some success in the air from Antrim puck-outs but not as smart over the ground. Came off a distinct second best against McKenna, whose direct running from deep proved a constant thorn in the Kingdom’s side. 5.5

Fionan Mackessy: Considering the difficulties Kerry had curtailing the pace of McNaughton last month, Mackessy stuck to the Loughgiel man like glue, and always had green and gold bodies nearby in support. Made a great block from McNaughton in the first half. 7.5

Michael Leane: Probably broke about even with Michael Bradley in their battle. 7

Brandon Barrett: Moved into centre-forward and worked hard, picking up several breaks, but unable to impose his will on the Antrim defence. Replaced towards the end. 6

Paudie O’Connor: Scored a first half point and enjoyed success in the air as Kerry clawed their way back into the game after a slow start. Replaced with 20 minutes to go. 7

Michael O’Leary: Bagged a point in either half but found Maskey a hard man to get any change from. Not as influential as Kerry needed him to be. 6.5

Shane Nolan: Started at midfield but came off second best to the dominant Campbell, and couldn’t get the better of Rooney when pushed further forward in the second half. 5.5

Shane Conway: The golden boy of Kerry hurling showed flashes of his quality, but that was all. Regrouped after a couple of uncharacteristic wides in the first half but was generally shaded by an inspired Walsh. 6.5

Daniel Collins: His point on the half hour drew Kerry level - peripheral apart from that. 6

Mikey Boyle: Looked as surprised as anyone when a ball into the square somehow evaded Donnelly’s hurl and landed in his palm. Made no mistake to find the net, but was well shackled by the Ballycastle man otherwise. 6

Maurice O’Connor: Wasn’t involved much until replaced by O’Mahony early in the second half. 5.5

Substitutes

Barry O’Mahony: Ended up on fellow sub McManus after coming off the bench. Shown a yellow card having brought down Cunning as he broke towards the square. 6

Padraig Boyle: Sent into the square after coming on for Paudie O’Connor and looked sharp. Caused Duffin some problems and landed a point as the Kingdom tried to battle their way back into the game. 7

Colm Harty: Announced his arrival with a classy score after replacing Boyle and looked lively. 6.5

Brendan O’Leary: Scored a minute after being brought from the bench but couldn’t swing the momentum back Kerry’s way. 6

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