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Ciaran Clarke scored Antrim's first goal in their Joe McDonagh Cup victory over Kerry. 
Ciaran Clarke scored Antrim's first goal in their Joe McDonagh Cup victory over Kerry. 

Joe McDonagh Cup: Antrim power to victory over Kerry


Joe McDonagh Cup Round One

ANTRIM 3-19 KERRY 0-14

From David Mohan at Pearse Park, Dunloy

Antrim opened their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign with a comprehensive 14-point win over Kerry at Dunloy.

The previous two meetings between the counties went the way of the Kingdom, but Neal Peden's Saffrons were not to be denied on a sunny, yet chilly evening as a strong second half showing saw them romp to victory.

With a stiff breeze at their backs in the opening period, Kerry made the faster start with towering centre-forward, Michael O'Leary pointing after just 15 seconds.

Two Shane Conway frees followed before Antrim got into their stride with Eoin O'Neill clipping over a fine score from the left on eight minutes.

Conway replied with another free for the Kingdom, but their shooting was beginning to let them down as the wides tally began to mount.

Antrim were beginning to find their rhythm and Ryan McCambridge drove over from range before Keelan Molloy went on a good run before popping over on his home pitch.

Colum Harty then edged Kerry further ahead before his midfield partner, Jack Goulding saw a shot flash across the face of goal on 15 minutes.

James McNaughton and O'Leary swapped points, but Antrim were level on 30 minutes thanks to another McNaughton free and an excellent score when Neil McManus found Conor McCann with a reverse pass for the Antrim skipper to score.

Conway edged the visitors back in front, but on 33 minutes, Antrim took the lead for the first time.

Nicky McKeague's line-ball found the hand of McNaughton who send Ciaran Clarke in on the left and the Ballycastle man found the net to ensure Antrim's front six had all registered.

A pair of Conway frees leveled matters, but Antrim grabbed a 1-7 to 0-9 half-time advantage when Eoin O'Neill split the posts from a tight angle out on the right sideline.

The visitors were back on terms two minutes after the restart when Tomás O'Connor burst out from defence to score what proved to be Kerry's only score from play in the second period and the sides traded further points from Conor McCann and Shane Conway before the hosts took a firm grip on this game.

Matthew Donnelly set-up Paddy Burke for a good score and then came the decisive moment when Nicky McKeague's shot for point dropped short, but Kerry goalkeeper, Martin Stackpoole seemed to take his eye off the ball that ended up in the net to make it 2-9 to 0-11.

The scores began to flow for Antrim after that with Neil McManus converting a pair of frees with a Conway free Kerry's sole reply.

Ciaran Clarke, and Keelan Molloy added scores for the hosts before Kerry were reduced to 14 on 57 minutes when John Buckley was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball challenge on Matthew Donnelly.

This extinguished whatever hopes his side had of getting back into the game as McManus added another free and then on 63 minutes,Antrim substitute, Nigel Elliott raced in on the right to blast home his side's third goal.

Conway added a couple of frees for Kerry, but the hosts finished strong with substitutes David Kearney, Joe Maskey and Kevin Rice raising flags along with McManus and Molloy to round off a good day for Antrim.

Scorers for Antrim: Ciaran Clarke 1-1, Neil McManus 0-4 (all frees), Nicky McKeague 1-0, Nigel Elliott 1-0, Keelan Molloy 0-3, James McNaughton 0-2 (all frees), Conor McCann 0-2, Eoin O'Neill 0-2, Paddy Burke 0-1, Ryan McCambridge 0-1, Joe Maskey 0-1, David Kearney 0-1, Kevin Rice 0-1 

Scorers for Kerry: Shane Conway 0-10 (all frees), Michael O'Leary 0-2, Colum Harty 0-1, Tomás O'Connor 0-1

ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Stephen Rooney, John Dillon, Phelim Duffin; Paddy Burke, Conor Boyd, Matthew Donnelly; Neil McManus, Nicky McKeague; James McNaughton, Ryan McCambridge, Keelan Molloy; Ciaran Clarke, Conor McCann, Eoin O'Neill. Subs: Nigel Elliott for James McNaughton (48), David Kearney for Nicky McKeague (61), Joe Maskey for Eoin O'Neill (61), Dan McCloskey for Ciaran Clarke (67), Kevin Rice for Connor McCann (69).

KERRY: Martin Stackpoole; John Buckley, James O'Connor, Evan Murphy; Sean Weir, Bryan Murphy, Tomas O'Connor; Colum Harty, Jack Goulding; Shane Conway, Michael O'Leary, Jordan Conway; Dan Goggin, Mikey Boyle, Padraig Boyle. Subs: Michael Slattery for Padraig Boyle (50), Patrick Kelly for Colum Harty (59), Daniel Carroll for Jordan Conway (61), Gavin Dooley for Jack Goulding (65).

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