Saffrons’ late surge sees off brave Kingdom

NEWLY promoted Kerry stepped up in class against Antrim yesterday in the opening round of Division 2 of the Allianz NHL at Austin Stack Park Tralee, and only faded against more experienced rivals in the final 15 minutes.

Under the guidance of John Meyler, Kerry made a bright start, thanks to some excellent work from Adrian Royle, Tom Murnane, John Griffin and Mikey Boyle, but found scores hard to come by against a rock solid Antrim full-back line, led by Cormac Donnelly.

Antrim had scored three frees, two from Karl Stewart and one from Neil McManus with Liam and Mikey Boyle replying for the home side, before Antrim struck for a crucial 19th minute goal.

A slip by a Kerry defender allowed Darran Hamill to shoot goalwards and corner-forward PJ O’Connell found the net with a deft flick.

However, Kerry dominated from here until half-time with points from Mikey Boyle, Darragh O’Connell with two frees, Adrian Royle, Aidan Boyle and Darran Dineen and led 0-8 to 1-4 at half-time.

When Darragh O’Connell added to Kerry’s lead two minutes after the restart there was cause for optimism but Antrim took over at midfield and the introduction of substitutes Shane McNaughton and Colm McFall swung the game in the visitors’ favour with five unanswered points.

Darragh O’Connell closed the gap to two points when he drove a 53rd minute penalty over the Antrim bar, but Antrim replied with late points from Thomas McCann, Karl Stewart and Shane Mac Naughton.

Scorers for Antrim: P J O’Connell 1-0, K Stewart and N McManus 0-3 frees each, S McNaughton 0-3, K McKeegan 0-2, S Mc Crory, D Hamill, C McFall, T McCann 0-1 each

Scorers for Kerry: D O’Connell 0-5 (all frees), M Boyle 0-2, A Royle, D Dineen, L Boyle, A Boyle and J Flaherty 0-1 each

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).

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 MacNaughton for C Carson (42), L Kerins for P J O’Connell (55), T McCann for K McKeegan (64).

Referee: D O’Driscoll (Limerick)

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