Westmeath end Joe McDonagh Cup hoodoo with victory over Kerry at Croke Park

Westmeath 2-28 Kerry 1-24
The Westmeath captain Cormac Boyle and his team-mates celebrate with the Joe McDonagh Cup after their win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The Westmeath captain Cormac Boyle and his team-mates celebrate with the Joe McDonagh Cup after their win over Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Westmeath’s senior hurlers put two defeats in previous finals (2018 and 2019) behind them to deservedly win the Joe McDonagh Cup in sweltering conditions at Croke Park, the midlanders proving full value for their seven-point winning margin.

Barry O’Mahony opened the scoring for the Kingdom after just 20 seconds, but a wonderful goal from Niall Mitchell some 60 seconds later, after he had made a spectacular catch, put Shane O’Brien’s troops into a lead they never looked like relinquishing.

Former Galway player Davy Glennon was in top form in attack, while midfielder Robbie Greville put in a huge shift at midfield, the duo scoring five and four points respectively from play.

Kerry’s marquee player Shane Conway scored a sublime point from a lineball in the fifth minute but he was generally well shackled in open play by Darragh Egerton.

The Lake County men led by 1-16 to 0-13 when Joey Boyle teed up Ciaran Doyle for his side’s second goal in the 35th minute. Westmeath led by 2-16 to 0-14 at the interval.

Westmeath’s lead was still eight points (2-22 to 0-20) at the second water break, but Fintan O’Connor’s charges came back into contention in the 59th minute when Mikey Boyle found the net at the end of a good move to reduce the deficit to five points.

However, they never looked like depriving Westmeath of a place in the Liam MacCarthy Cup next year, and their tally of 17 wides was to prove costly, with new free-taker Pádraig Boyle, who had a fine game overall, also spurning good opportunities.

Mitchell remained a thorn in the Kerry defence right to the end and his classy point in the fourth minute of added-time was the icing on the cake.

Scorers – Westmeath: N Mitchell 1-4, K Doyle 0-6 (3fs), D Glennon 0-5, C Doyle 1-2, R Greville 0-4, N O’Brien (1f), A Clarke 0-2 each, J Boyle, A Craig, D McNicholas (f) 0-1 each. Kerry: P Boyle 0-7 (3fs), M Boyle 1-3, S Conway 0-4 (2fs, 1s/l), C Hussey 0-3, S Nolan, B O’Mahony 0-2 each, J Diggins, C O’Keeffe, D Collins 0-1 each.

Westmeath: N Conaty; D Egerton, T Gallagher, C Shaw; A Craig, T Doyle, A Clarke; C Boyle, R Greville; D Glennon, K Doyle, J Boyle; C Doyle, N O’Brien, N Mitchell. Subs: S Clavin for C Boyle (49), J Coll for C Doyle (55), D McNicholas for K Doyle (62), S Williams for O’Brien (67), D Clinton for J Boyle (70 + 1).

Kerry: JB O’Halloran; E Leen, E Murphy, C O’Keeffe; J Diggins, F Mackessy, T O’Connor; P O’Connor, S Nolan; M Boyle, D Collins, B O’Mahony; P Boyle, S Conway, C Hussey. Subs: M Leane for P O’Connor (h-t), B Murphy for T O’Connor (43), M O’Connor for O’Mahony (54).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).


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