Joe McDonagh Cup: Antrim blitz Royals in Navan

November 28, 2020

Meath's Shane Brennan with Conor McCann Antrim during the Joe McDonagh Cup game at Pairc Tailteann

Antrim 2-30

Meath 3-10

A promising Meath start faded as Antrim crushed the home side in this Joe McDonagh Cup round five fixture at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday afternoon.

Meath made a bold to secure their first ever win in a McDonagh Cup game and led by 1-8 to 0-7 after 24 minutes.

From there to the end Antrim outscored the Royals by 2-23 to 2-2 with Meath getting the last score of the game, sub Damien Healy, in his 101st outing for the county hurlers, netting a 20-metre free.

Some of the Antrim scores were top-drawer effort with Ciaran Clarke (from play and frees) leading the way with a dozen scores. Michael Bradley finished with eight points from play.

In the end 11 different players had contributed to Antrim's 32-score tally. A scoring surge that bridged the break was central to the outcome.

A glimmer of hope for Meath emerged in the 42nd minute when Stephen Morris goaled with a low drive to leave the home side trailing by four points, 1-16 to 2-9.

It was just a temporary reprieve with Meath managing just two scores from their to the end. Daithi McGowan's 60th minute point into the town end was followed by Healy's goal.

Antrim responded positively to Morris' goal with Ryan McGarry's point being the pick of the visitors' scores as they moved 15 points clear heading into the latter stages after Daniel McCloskey goaled for the Glensmen.

Antrim's procession of points continued with sub Nicky McKeague's second point closing their account before Healy netted.

Antrim top the table and face Kerry (who they beat in round three by 3-18 to 2-14) in the final at Croke Park on December 13, the curtain raiser to the All-Ireland SHC final.

On an ideal afternoon for hurling, no wind, sun or rain, Meath, assisted by a slight breeze, showed well in the opening quarter as they sought their first ever win in a McDonagh Cup game.

That quest was boosted by James Kelly's' fourth minute goal, a long delivery that evaded Antrim 'keeper Conor McAlister. Moments later a fine Charlie Ennis save denied Aodhan O'Brien a goal.

By the first-half water break Meath - without the suspended Jack Regan - led by 1-5 to 0-6. A highlight of that phase was a Darragh Kelly pointed free from inside his own 65. When Alan Douglas pointed in the 24th minute the home side were four ahead, 1-8 to 0-7.

The second quarter was bossed by Antrim with a Keith Keoghan effort to point belatedly credited to the Killyon man.

Michael Bradley led the Antrim scoring sally and had five to his credit by half time when the visitors led by 1-13 to 1-9. Thereafter Antrim motored on towards a Croke Park final date.

Antrim - C McAllister; S Rooney, M Donnelly, P Duffin; G Walsh, P Burke, R McGarry (0-1); E Campbell (0-1), A O'Brien; N McKenna (1-0), J McNaughton (0-2), M Bradley (0-8); C Clarke (0-12, 10f), C McCann (0-2), D McCloskey (1-0). Subs: D McMullan (0-1) for G Walsh, D Nugent (0-1) for C McCann, N McKeague (0-2) for N McKenna, E O'Neill for D McCloskey, C Johnston for R McGarry.

Meath - C Ennis; M Burke, S Brennan, S Geraghty; B McGowan, D Kelly (0-1), S Whitty; P Potterton (0-1), P O'Hanrahan (0-2, 1f, 1'65); J Kelly (1-1), S Morris (1-0), A Douglas (0-2); J Walsh (0-1), D McGowan (0-1), K Keoghan (0-1). Subs: P Conneely for S Geraghty, D Healy (1-0f) for J Walsh, J McGowan for S Morris, N Potterton for K Keoghan, E O Donnnchadha for P O'Hanrahan.

Referee - D Hughes.

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