Leinster SHC: Westmeath 1-19 Antrim 4-24
Despite their sensational win a week earlier in Wexford, Westmeath were relegated to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2024 when they were decisively beaten by Antrim in front of a big crowd in glorious weather conditions in Mullingar on Sunday afternoon, with Kilkenny unable to do them a favour.
Goals in the eighth minute by Conal Cunning and Conor Johnston in the 13th minute helped Antrim to a deserved 2-6 to 0-5 lead by the 21st minute. The Glensmen could easily have found the net for the third time in the 28th minute, but Neil McManus was superbly denied by Noel Conaty.
Owen McCabe then availed of slack Antrim defending to find the net, the referee allowing an advantage after a foul by goalkeeper Ryan Elliott who was black-carded and replaced between the sticks by wing back Gerard Walsh. Joe Fortune’s men added four unanswered points before the break and they led by 1-12 to 2-7 at the interval.
The two-point deficit was wiped out within a minute of the restart with Keelan Molloy (after nine seconds) and McManus on target. The sides were still on level terms (2-11 to 1-14) after 41 minutes, but a fired-up Antrim took over from then onwards with manager Darren Gleeson picking up a yellow card.
Firing over some great points from a variety of angles, they outscored the home team by 10 points to three by the 65th minute. Substitute Eoin O’Neill rifled in a great goal two minutes later and midfielder James McNaughton scored a fourth goal in the 68th minute to seal a fully deserved win.
WESTMEATH: N Conaty; D Egerton, C Shaw, J Bermingham (0-1); T Doyle, A Craig, R Greville; J Galvin (0-2, sideline), C McCormack; D Glennon (0-4), E Keyes, N O’Brien (0-3, one free); O McCabe (1-0), J Boyle (0-2), C Doyle (0-7, four frees, two 65s).
Subs: N Mitchell for McCormack (41 mins), P Clarke for Craig (49), D McNicholas for C Doyle (59), C Boyle for Shaw (69), K Regan for McCabe (70+1).
ANTRIM: R Elliott; P Burke, R McGarry, N O’Connor (0-2); G Walsh, E Campbell, C Bohill; J McNaughton (1-3), M Bradley; K Molloy (0-1), C Johnston (1-1), N McManus (0-2); C Cunning (1-9, seven frees), N McKenna (0-3), S Elliott (0-2).
Subs: D McKernan for Bohill (11 mins), E O’Neill (1-1) for Johnston (61), R McMullan for McManus (70), D Nugent for Cunning (70+3).
Referee: K Jordan (Tipperary).