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Darren Gleeson can’t wait to have another go at Kerry in Joe McDonagh Cup after Antrim suffer two-point defeat


Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Ben Whitley

Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Ben Whitley

©INPHO/Ben Whitley

Darren Gleeson. Credit: INPHO/Ben Whitley

Antrim manager Darren Gleeson was disappointed to lose to Kerry but is hoping for quick revenge in the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup.

The Kingdom will play the Saffrons in the decider after a 0-29 to 2-21 win at Corrigan Park.

“It’s disappointing to lose it, Kerry won by two in the end, but that’s hurling,” Antrim boss Gleeson reflected.

“I thought Carlow would give Offaly their fill of it down there. Carlow were a really tough team for us up here and we had to hurl unbelievably well in the last five minutes to get out with a win against them.

“It just shows you how good this competition is and I believe down in Ballycran it was a real dogfight between Meath and Down to stay up, so it’s good for Ulster hurling that Down stayed up.

“Anyone can beat anyone, so the final is nicely poised and we’ll see what happens on the day.”

Podge Boyle top-scored with 15 points in a flawless display, while Eoin Ross chipped in with four and Paudie O’Connor played a captain’s part to help fend off a late Antrim rally.

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The visitors got off to a great start with the first four points before a much-changed Antrim side began to settle with James McNaughton, Neil McManus and Michael Bradley leading the way.

The sides were level at 0-7 and again at 0-8 when Kerry pushed on into the break where they led 0-14 to 0-11.

Despite playing into the wind in the second period, the Kingdom began to pull clear with Eoin Ross setting them on their way, while Boyle added to his tally as Kerry pushed the gap out to seven, but Antrim began to battle back with substitute Keelan Molloy, McNaughton and Bradley on target.

Kerry continued to stay ahead as Boyle, Ross and Gavin Dooley re-established their seven-point lead, but then this game took a huge swing towards Antrim in stoppage time as Conal Bohill blasted to the net and after a reply from Jordan Conway, Neil McManus goaled to leave one in it.

Boyle’s 15th point of the day settled Kerry, but a point from McKernan left it a very nervy finish, yet Kerry found an answer with Paudie O’Connor sealing their victory.

While Antrim will aspire for a return the Leinster Championship next season, Down will be very happy they retained their McDonagh Cup status with a 2-28 to 2-19 win over Meath in Ballycran that saw them stay up with the Royals dropping into next year’s Christy Ring Cup.

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