Antrim facing play-off after Kerry fightback
Antrim 1-20 Kerry 2-21
Antrim's hurlers will face a play-off against the Christy Ring Cup winners to save their Joe McDonagh Cup status for 2019 after their disappointing loss to Kerry in Cushendall on Saturday.
Leading by 1-10 to 0-3 after 20 minutes with Ciaran Clarke bagging an eighth minute goal, Antrim appeared to be cruising and looking for a favour from Westmeath against Carlow to book a place in the final, but a storming Kerry comeback, led by Shane Conway, left them reeling.
Neil McManus hit 0-17, which tells its own tale as Antrim struggled to get anything going in attack. A goal in first half-injury time from Kerry's Mickey Boyle left just one in it at the break, 1-12 to 1-11.
Antrim scored just once from play in the second period through Johnston, and Jack Goulding hit a 50th minute goal, to give The Kingdom a lead they would hold until the finish.
Antrim looked toothless going forward as Kerry piled on the scores with Brendan O'Leary, Mickey Boyle, Tomas O'Connor and Padraig Boyle all chipping alongside Conway from frees to score a deserved win.
"Today, we just didn't deserve to win," said Antrim joint-manager, Dominic McKinley.
"After the good start, for some reason we just couldn't get it going again. Every time the ball broke, they won it.
"At the breaks, they looked like they had two or three extra men all the time. It's a tough one to swallow.
"We missed a couple of goals that could have put us further ahead in the first half. It's hard to put the finger on it, just hard."
He added: "We need to stay in this competition. We now have to play the Christy Ring winners and it's going to be difficult to motivate everybody and get ready for that."