Darren Gleeson: Full Antrim squad should experience All-Ireland final day

Tipperary's 2016 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper has guided the Saffrons to the December 13 showpiece against Kerry
Darren Gleeson: Full Antrim squad should experience All-Ireland final day

Antrim's Ciaran Clarke top-scored with 0-12 in the win over Meath. File photo

Joe McDonagh Cup: Antrim 2-30 Meath 3-10 

Antrim manager Darren Gleeson has called on authorities to allow his entire 32-man panel to experience the Joe McDonagh Cup final and, if possible, some of their family members too.

Tipperary's 2016 All-Ireland winning goalkeeper has guided the Saffrons to the December 13 showpiece against Kerry at Croke Park.

Saturday's big win over Meath, which yielded 11 different scorersde and tallies of 0-8 from Michael Bradley and 0-12 from free-taker Ciaran Clarke, guaranteed that Antrim and Kerry will meet for the fourth time in 2020. The final will precede the Liam MacCarthy Cup decider and both the GAA and government are coming under increasing pressure to allow some family members at the very least to attend.

"At the moment you can bring 38 people in our group and within that you have to have your medical staff and your county board officials and you obviously have to have us as selectors and the manager," said Gleeson.

"We'd nearly prefer to be at home and to have the boys there who trained and slogged for it all year. We carry a small enough panel in comparison to what you'd be hearing. We have 32 and if any of them aren't there on that day, I will be personally devastated for them.

I think it's only right and fair that first of all they're there. I think their families would live with it once the players themselves can be there. 

"If the GAA and authorities can look at putting a few family members in for the day that's in it, that would be absolutely fantastic. It's not an issue to be sidestepped, it's relevant that the people who are putting the hard work in all through the year, that they should be rewarded by being with their team-mates on a big day like an All-Ireland final day."

Neil McManus hasn't featured for Antrim in the campaign due to the hamstring injury sustained early in last month's Division 2A final win over Kerry.

Prior to that he had a broken finger though all the indicators are that the talisman forward will be available for the final.

Scorers for Antrim: C Clarke (0-12, 10 frees); M Bradley (0-8); D McCloskey, N McKenna (1-0 each); C McCann, J McNaughton, N McKeague (0-2 each); E Campbell, R McGarry, D McMullan, D Nugent (0-1 each).

Scorers for Meath: J Kelly (1-1); D Healy (1 free), S Morris (1-0 each); P O'Hanrahan (1 free, 1 65), A Douglas (0-2 each); J Walsh, P Potterton, K Keoghan, D Kelly (1 free), D McGowan (0-1 each).

ANTRIM: C McAllister; S Rooney, M Donnelly, P Duffin; G Walsh, P Burke, R McGarry; E Campbell, A O'Brien; N McKenna, J McNaughton, M Bradley; C Clarke, C McCann, D McCloskey.

Subs: D McMullan for Walsh, D Nugent for McCann (both 45); N McKeague for McKenna (50); E O'Neill for McCloskey (60); C Johnston for McGarry (64).

MEATH: C Ennis; M Burke, S Brennan, S Geraghty; B McGowan, D Kelly, S Whitty; P Potterton, P O'Hanrahan; J Kelly, S Morris, A Douglas; J Walsh, D McGowan, K Keoghan.

Subs: P Connelly for Geraghty (29); D Healy for Walsh (47); J McGowan for Morris (51); N Potterton for Keoghan, E O Donnchadha for O'Hanrahan (both 64).

Referee: D Hughes (Kilkenny).

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