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Inspirational Molloy paves the way for Antrim

Kerry 2-14 Antrim 2-20

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Antrim recorded a six-point win over Kerry yesterday afternoon to maintain their 100% record in the 2020 Allianz Hurling League. (stock photo)

Antrim recorded a six-point win over Kerry yesterday afternoon to maintain their 100% record in the 2020 Allianz Hurling League. (stock photo)

Antrim recorded a six-point win over Kerry yesterday afternoon to maintain their 100% record in the 2020 Allianz Hurling League. (stock photo)

Antrim recorded a six-point win over Kerry yesterday afternoon to maintain their 100% record in the 2020 Allianz Hurling League.

It was a strong performance from the Saffrons, who looked much the better side during an impressive 70-minute performance.

A late goal from Kerry captain Mickey Boyle took some of the shine off the scoreboard for the victors, but it acted as scant consolation for the home side.

Antrim outplayed their hosts for the majority of the game and were able to boast a total of 11 different scorers.

Neil McManus (0-5) and Domhnall Nugent (1-2) finished as joint top scorers for the Saffrons but it was midfielder Keelan Molloy who took the man of the match award.

Scoring three points from play, Molloy was instrumental throughout and Kerry couldn't curtail his influence.

Antrim played with the wind in the first half and despite a nip and tuck opening 20 minutes after which Kerry led by one point, the Saffrons took control and reeled off seven unanswered points.

McManus (two), Nugent, Molloy, Dan McCloskey and James McNaughton all registered white flags in a profitable nine-minute spell.

Kerry hit back with two minutes of the first half remaining when Jordan Conway scored an opportunistic goal.

After the Saffrons defence failed to clear a dropping ball, the Kerry dangerman stepped in to fire the sliotar to the back of the net but it was Antrim who went into the break ahead regardless.

Any thoughts of Antrim lingering on conceding a disappointing goal before half-time were dispelled just two minutes after the restart.

Nugent continued his fine league form by collecting a dropping ball from McManus and holding off two Kerry defenders before firing home.

The St John's man followed up his goal with a point soon after and while the Kingdom reduced the lead to three points with a trio of unanswered scores from Michael Slattery, Conway and Padraig Boyle, Antrim regained control with Molloy instrumental.

The Saffrons' second goal came in the 55th minute and all but sealed the result.

Substitute Conor McCann raced clear from the ruck and made no mistake when one-on-one with Kerry keeper Martin Stackpoole.

McCann's goal opened up an eight-point lead for the Saffrons and allowed them to see out the remaining time without any major alarm.

They maintained their eight-point lead going into injury time before the home side scored their second goal of the game, which proved to be scant consolation.

It came from another opportunistic moment when Antrim couldn't clear the danger and Kerry captain Boyle punished the Saffrons - but it was all too little too late for the beaten Kingdom.

Antrim's thoughts now turn to a rearranged fixture against Offaly on Sunday.

That game will have a little extra spice as Offaly require a win by a minimum of nine points to deny Kerry a place in the divisional final.

Antrim, meanwhile, are all but there as they would have to suffer a 36-point loss not to reach the decider.

Belfast Telegraph