McDonagh Cup: Saffrons outclass Westmeath

October 25, 2020

The aerial battle between Antrim and Westmeath.

Antrim 4-25

Westmeath 1-15

Despite being short a number of regulars, including talisman Neil McManus, Antrim dished out a 19-point hammering to Westmeath in the opening round of the Joe McDonagh Cup at Belfast's Corrigan Park.

Westmeath had eight points to spare in the corresponding game at Dunloy last year, but the Saffrons turned the tables in stunning fashion as they built on last Sunday's Allianz Hurling League Division 2A final victory over Kerry.

In McManus' absence, corner forward Ciaran Clarke posted 2-8, including 2-2 from play, while captain Conor McCann chipped in with 1-3. This was a sobering and unexpected defeat for Westmeath, who did well to retain their Division 1 status last spring. They brought selector Brendan Murtagh out of retirement and he shot 0-6 from placed balls, but were always chasing the game after Clarke's first goal gave the hosts a 1-1 to 0-1 lead after four minutes.

Shane O'Brien's men regained parity by the 23rd minute, 0-7 to 1-4, but that was as good as it got for them as McCann netted to send the winners into the break with a 2-9 to 0-8 lead.

Clarke and Murtagh traded scores after the restart before Darren Gleeson's charges put the result beyond doubt with further majors from Clarke and Aodhan O'Brien. Niall O'Brien scored a late consolation goal for the Lake County, who will be hoping to bounce back at home to Kerry next weekend.

Antrim, meanwhile, will head to Carlow with a spring in their step.

Antrim - R Elliott; P Duffin, M Donnelly, S Rooney; G Walsh (0-2), P Burke, J Maskey; E Campbell (0-2), R McGarry; N McKenna (0-4), A O'Brien (1-0), K Molloy (0-4); D McCloskey, C McCann (1-3), C Clarke (2-8, 0-7f). Subs: N McKeague for A O'Brien, D McMullan (0-1) for R McGarry, R McCambridge for D McCloskey, R Molloy for G Walsh, S McCrory (0-1) for E Campbell.

Westmeath - E Skelly; J Bermingham, T Doyle, C Shaw; A Craig, A Clarke (0-1), C Boyle; R Greville, J Galvin; N Mitchell (0-1), D McNicholas, J Boyle; N O'Brien (1-2), B Murtagh (0-6, 5f, 1'65), D Clinton (0-4). Subs: E Price for J Galvin, A Devine for D McNicholas, S Williams (0-1) for N Mitchell, A Cox for C Boyle, S McGovern for J Bermingham.

Referee - S Stack.

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