McNaughton helps turn tide for Saffrons
Newly promoted Kerry found Antrim's greater experience too hot to handle in Tralee yesterday.
After trailing at half-time, Antrim enjoyed a purple patch in the second half following the introduction of substitutes Shane McNaughton and Colm McFall which yielded five unanswered points and this was enough to put daylight between themselves and their hosts.
Scores were at a premium on a heavy pitch but Kerry made a bright start, thanks to excellent work from Adrian Royle, Tom Murnane, John Griffin and Mikey Boyle, but the inside line came up against a rock-solid Antrim full-back line led by Cormac Donnelly.
Antrim's goal halted Kerry's early surge and came after 19 minutes when a slip by a Kerry defender allowed Darran Hamill to shoot goalwards and PJ O'Connell found the net with a deft flick.
Kerry dominated from this point until half-time and points from Mikey Boyle, Darragh O'Connell (two frees), Adrian Royle, Aidan Boyle and Darran Dineen left them ahead by 0-8 to 1-4 at half-time.
When O'Connell doubled Kerry's lead two minutes after the restart there was cause for optimism for the Kingdom, but Antrim took over and the introduction of McNaughton and McFall swung the game in the visitors' favour as they hit five unanswered points.
Although O'Connell closed the gap to two when he drove a 53rd-minute penalty over the Antrim bar, it really ended Kerry's hopes. Points from Thomas McCann, Karl Stewart and Naughton put a gloss on the scoreline.
Scorers -- Antrim: PJ O'Connell 1-0, K Stewart, N McManus (3f), S McNaughton 0-3 each, K McKeegan 0-2, S McCrory, D Hamill, C McFall, T McCann 0-1 each. Kerry: D O'Connell 0-5 (5f), M Boyle 0-2, A Royle, D Dineen, L Boyle, A Boyle, J Flaherty 0-1 each.
Antrim -- B McFall; N McAuley, C Donnelly, A Graffin; K McKeague, M Herron, C Herron; K McKeegan, K Stewart; N McManus, M Armstrong, S McCrory; D Hamill, C Carson, PJ O Connell. Subs: C McFall for S McCrory (h-t), S McNaughton for C Carson (42), L Kerins for P J O'Connell (55), T McCann for K McKeegan (64).
Kerry -- B Rochford; A Keane, J Godley, C Harris; A Royle, T Murnane, P O'Grady; J Griffin, D Dineen; D O'Connell, M Boyle, L Boyle; J Egan, A Boyle, S Nolan. Subs: J Flaherty for S Nolan (45), B O'Grady for D Dineen (55), J Casey for P O'Grady (56), G O'Brien for L Boyle (64), T Moloney for J Egan (64).
Ref -- D O'Driscoll (Limerick).