Relegation angers bosses as Lilywhites lose play-off
Antrim 3-23 Kildare 1-17
Much of the analysis after this match centred on whether or not the game should actually have been played.
For the record, Antrim prevailed by 12 points, coming back from 1-1 to no score behind after a Paul Divilly goal and James Burke free had given the Lilywhites an early lead.
Goals from Neil McManus (2) and Conor McCann helped Antrim to go in at half-time leading by 3-9 to 1-9 and the Saffrons maintained their momentum in the second half.
Although Kevin Whelan cut the gap after the restart, Antrim accounted for eight of the next 10 points to seal McDonagh Cup hurling in 2019.
Both managers called for the new second-tier competition to remain at six teams.
"First and foremost, Kildare should have been promoted. Let's get it back to six teams and bring Kildare up," said Antrim co-manager Dominic McKinley.
"Keep the Joe McDonagh the way it was. Why would you change it when everyone has been talking so highly of it? It's been very successful, so why not move it on?"
Kildare boss Joe Quaid felt the issue was symptomatic of the GAA hierarchy's treatment of weaker counties.
"I guarantee you that, if Antrim had been beaten today, they'd be playing Joe McDonagh Cup next year… they're pumping too much money into Belfast. And Antrim should be playing that level.
"I have no problem with relegation. Relegate the bottom team and promote the top team," Quaid said.
"I'm not here to make excuses. We shouldn't have been here in the first place, Antrim shouldn't have to be here.
"Why are they relegating two teams? Talk about disrespect?
"We played an All-Ireland final last Saturday; there wasn't a parade, there wasn't a band, there wasn't a national anthem… it was like playing a club match."
Scorers - Antrim: N McManus 2-10 (6f, 1 '65); K Molloy 0-6; C McCann 1-1; N Elliott 0-2; R McCambridge, J Dillon, E O'Neill and J McNaughton 0-1 each. Kildare: P Divilly 1-6 (2f); J Burke 0-6 (5f); K Whelan and B Deay 0-2 each; C Bonus 0-1.
Antrim - R Elliott 8; A Graffin 7, J Dillon 8, R McCambridge 6; P Burke 7, M Donnelly 7, C McKinley 7; S McCrory 7, E Campbell 7; K Molloy 8, N McManus 9, N Elliott 7; C Carson 7, C McCann 8, E O'Neill. Subs: D McKinley 7 for R McCambridge (50), J McNaughton 7 for M Donnelly (63), E McCloskey for E O'Neill (65), S Rooney for S McCrory (70), D McCloskey for C McCann (73).
Kildare - P McKenna 8; C Gordon 7, J Doran 7, P Sullivan 7; E O'Neill 7, M Maloney 7, K Whelan 8; N Ó Muineacháin 7, B Byrne 7; J Burke 8, P Divilly 9, B Deay 7; M Delaney 6, M Fitzgerald 6, J Sheridan 7. Subs: C Bonus for B Deay (53), D Cahill for K Whelan (53), S Gainey 6 for J Burke (56), B Cormack 7 for M Delaney (60), S Walsh for E O'Neill (68).
Ref - D Hughes (Carlow)
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