Kerry blitz leaves Antrim on the brink
Kerry 2-21 Antrim 1-20
Kerry secured third spot in the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup table after a deserved four-point win over Antrim at Cushendall. Having trailed by 10 points after 20 minutes, the Kingdom clawed their way back into the game before the break, reducing the gap to a point, 1-12 to 1-11, by the short whistle, helped by a Mikey Boyle goal.
The teams were tied twice after the restart, but a Jack Goulding goal proved the decisive score in consolidating Kerry's mid-table position and consigning Antrim to a relegation play-off against the Christy Ring Cup champions.
Antrim started at a blistering pace and a Ciaran Clarke goal had them 1-3 to no score ahead on eight minutes.
In the remaining 15 minutes of the first half, however, Kerry outscored their hosts by 1-8 to 0-2, with Boyle's goal coming in injury time. It was a decisive blitz.
Kerry had the momentum after the break, although Antrim were able to draw level through Goulding's 48th-minute major. The visitors managed to remain a score or two ahead, despite the best efforts of Neil McManus in particular, who finished the game with 0-17.
Scorers - Kerry: S Conway 0-12f, M Boyle, J Goulding 1-2 each, P Boyle 0-2, B O'Leary, D Griffin & T O'Connor 0-1 each. Antrim: N McManus 0-17 (10f, '65'), C Clarke 1-0, C Johnston, D McKinley & C McCann 0-1 each.
Antrim: R Elliott; A Graffin, J Dillon, C McKinley; P Burke, S McCrory, D Kearney; C Johnston, E Campbell; K Molloy, N McManus, N Elliott; D McKinley, C McCann, C Clarke. Subs: J McNaughton for Elliott (ht), E McCloskey for McKinley (44), R McCambridge for Burke (61).
Kerry: M Stackpole; J Buckley, B Murphy, J O'Connor; S Weir, M Boyle, D Collins; B O'Leary, D Griffin; P Boyle, S Nolan, T Murnane; J Goulding, B Barrett, S Conway. Subs: T O'Connor for Nolan (19), J Conway for Goulding (58), J Diggins for Murnane (70+4), E Murphy for Griffin (70+5).
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).
Laois 3-22 Meath 0-14
Laois preserved their Joe McDonagh status following this emphatic victory at Pairc Tailteann. The midlanders went into the game with just one victory and second from bottom, but with Kerry doing them a favour against Antrim in Cushendall, they leapfrogged the Glensmen, who now face a play-off against the Christy Ring champions to preserve their status.
For Meath, it was automatic relegation following a disappointing campaign, failing to win a single game.
Laois led 1-13 to 0-7 at the break and that advantage would have been greater but for three fine saves from Meath keeper Shane McGann.
He was unable to do anything about a Charles Dwyer effort on 31 minutes. Points from Paddy Conneely and sub James Toher reduced the deficit on the restart, but Meath were unable to make further leeway into the Laois lead after that.
Patrick Purcell hit the second Laois goal on 65 minutes. Ben Conroy contributed 1-3, as the midlanders ended their campaign in style.
Scorers - Laois: B Conroy 1-5, R King 0-6 (3fs, 2 '65), C Dwyer 1-3, P Purcell 1-2, W Dunphy 0-2, S Maher 0-2 (1f), R Mullaney, N Foyle E Lyons 0-1 each. Meath: P Conneely (2f), J Kelly 0-4 each, J Regan 0-3, C McCabe, J Toher, S Morris 0-1 each.
Laois: E Rowland; J Phelan L Bergin, P Lawlor; L Cleere, M Whelan, R Mullaney; P Purcell, J Ryan; C Dwyer, B Conroy, W Dunphy; S Maher, N Foyle, R King. Subs: C Stapleton for Ryan (25), M Kavanagh for King (47), M Dowling for Foyle (60), E Lyons for Mullaney (67), C Comerford for Maher (67).
Meath: S McGann; D Conneely, S Geraghty, D Kelly; J Keena, D Healy, K Keoghan; S Brennan, A Douglas; C McCabe, J Kelly, P Conneely; S Morris, A Gannon, J Regan. Subs: J Toher for Healy (25), N Weir for D Conneely (47), M O'Sullivan for McCabe (55), C O Mealoid for Brennan (62), Michael O'Grady for Gannon (65).
Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny).
Carlow 3-21 Westmeath 1-21
Carlow's James Doyle hit 3-1 as Colm Bonnar's side came from behind at Netwatch Cullen Park to claim a place in the inaugural Joe McDonagh Cup final.
Doyle's first goal came on 14 minutes. Westmeath, already qualified for the decider, responded with four unanswered points to take the lead.
Bonnar's men were 1-10 to 0-11 ahead at the break. By the 40th minute, it was 1-12 to 0-15. Then Westmeath substitute Niall Mitchell crashed home a fine goal within seconds of joining the action.
Carlow went in front from a penalty by Doyle on the hour. A Doyle goal on 67 minutes closed the deal.
Scorers - Carlow: J Doyle 3-1, D Murphy 0-10, 0-5f, 0-1 65, C Nolan 0-3, P Coady, J Kavanagh 0-2 each, E Byrne, J M Nolan, B Tracey 0-1 each. Westmeath: N O'Brien 0-6, 0-4f, A Clarke 0-4, S Clavin 0-3, N Mitchell 1-0, E Price, J Boyle, D Clinton 0-2 each, P Greville, J Gilligan 0-1 each.
Carlow: B Tracey; A Corcoran, P Doyle, M Doyle; D Byrne, R Coady, R Kelly; J Kavanagh, K McDonald; J M Nolan, P Coady, E Byrne; J Doyle, D Murphy, C Nolan. Subs: S Murphy for J M Nolan (42); D Wall for M Doyle (50); R Smithers for P Coady (56); C Foley for C Nolan (74).
Westmeath: S McGovern; S Power, L Varley; A Craig, P Greville, D McNicholas; E Price, A Clarke; J Gilligan, S Clavin, R Greville; N O'Brien, J Boyle, D Clinton. Subs: B Doyle for Power (29); N Mitchell for R Greville (47); J Galvin for McNicholas (59); J Galvin for Price (63).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim)
Sunday Indo Sport