Wednesday 21 February 2018

Kingdom turn on magic to claim two-in-a-row

Kerry 5-17 Westmeath 3-17 (Allianz NHL Div 2A final)

Colm Harty, Kerry, in action against Gary Greville, Westmeath
Colm Harty, Kerry, in action against Gary Greville, Westmeath
Tommy Doyle, Westmeath, in action against Mikey Boyle and Patrick Kelly, Kerry
Colm Harty, Kerry, in action against Gary Greville, Westmeath

Declan Rooney

Five first-half goals at Semple Stadium saw Kerry claim this title for the second year in a row and qualify for next week's promotion/relegation final against Antrim.

Westmeath's inability to deal with the high ball into their square proved the difference between the sides as Mikey Boyle's two goals and one each from Shane Nolan, Colm Harty and Keith Carmody stunned the midlanders in a magical 18-minute spell before the break.

Derek McNicholas hit a goal in each half for Michael Ryan's side and Darragh Clinton also scored a minute from time as Westmeath rallied late on.

But once Brendan Murtagh had a goal disallowed from a free for crossing the 20-metre line six minutes after the break there was no way back for Westmeath.

Points from Clinton and Niall O'Brien had got Westmeath off to a fine start, but once Nolan goaled for Kerry in the fifth minute things began to unravel for the Lakemen.

Clinton and O'Brien steadied the ship, but Kerry began to pick their way through Westmeath via some booming, direct deliveries.

Carmody was next to benefit when he caught the ball at the edge of the square, before Boyle rattled his first goal in the 11th minute to make it 3-4 to 0-4. The goals started to flow at the other end two minutes later when McNicholas scored from 20 metres, but Boyle and Harty hit another two goals in a seven minute spell to give Kerry a 5-8 to 1-11 half-time advantage.

Murtagh's goal was disallowed in the 41st minute and that would have put just six points between the sides, but Kerry performed well around the midway point of the half again as points from Nolan, Mikey Boyle and Padraig Boyle ensured they had a sufficient cushion.

Scorers - Kerry: M Boyle 2-2, P Boyle 0-7 (6f), S Nolan 1-3, C Harty 1-2, K Carmody 1-0, J Griffin, P Kelly, J Flaherty 0-1 each. Westmeath: D Clinton 1-4, D McNicholas 2-1, N O'Brien 0-5 (5f), B Murtagh (1f), C Boyle 0-2 each, E Price, A Devine, N Dowdall 0-1 each.

Kerry: J Logue; D Fitzell, D Dineen, B Murphy; S Weit, D Collins, P Costello; J Griffin, P Kelly; M O'Leary, S Nolan, C Harty; M Boyle, P Boyle, K Carmody. Subs: J Egan for O'Leary (31 mins), P Lucid for Kelly (56-60 blood), J Flaherty for Egan (57), T Casey for Carmody (64), P Lucid for Harty (66), A Royle for Weir (69).

Westmeath: P Collins; S Power, T Doyle, A Price; G Greville, A Clarke, L Varley; E Price, J Clarke; A Devine, B Murtagh, R Greville; N O'Brien, D McNicholas, D Clinton. Subs: A Craig for A Price (16 mins), C Boyle for Varley (h-t), A McGrath for J Clarke (47), N Dowdall for Devine (54), E Corrigan for O'Brien (61).

Referee: T Carroll (Offaly).

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