Kerry see off Antrim to seal promotion to Division 1B
John Egan’s point at the death sees The Kingdom excorcise last year’s demons
Colm Harty and Mikey Boyle celebrate Kerry’s promotion to Division 1B. Photograph: Inpho
Kerry 2-16 Antrim 1-18
Kerry manager Eamonn Kelly admitted that promotion to Division 1B of the Allianz hurling league was particularly sweet after achieving it the hard way.
Substitute John Egan fired the 71st minute Parnell Park point that finally moved Kerry out of Division 2A having won that title for the past two seasons.
The Kingdom lost out to Offaly in the promotion/relegation decider last year but returned with a vengeance 12 months on.
They trailed 0-11 to 0-3 at half-time but the score line didn’t reflect their efforts as they played into the teeth of a strong wind. They were the dominant force in the second-half with 2-13 in total including two Colm Harty goals.
Shane Nolan was superb and fired eight points though Egan will forever be remembered for his 71st minute intervention.
Boss Kelly described Egan as a ‘born leader’ and praised the team in general for achieving relegation against the odds.
“The odds were stacked against a 2A team going up because they always have to play a 1B team in this match,” said Kelly.
“We certainly had to do it the hard way with back to back league titles. Antrim in fairness to them gave it a right rattle and we thought we might have missed our chance after the first-half, we had a lot of missed goal chances.
“But we said to the lads just keep doing what you’re doing and the opportunities will come. Ultimately, they did.”
Harty’s goals came in the 44th and 55th minutes and Kerry did take a brief lead with nine minutes to go. But it was Egan’s 71st minute score that ultimately separated them.
Subs: J Egan (0-1) for Carmody (57), J Flaherty for P Boyle (63).
Antrim: C O’Connell; O McFadden, N McAuley (0-1), A Graffin; E McAlonan, N McManus (0-1), C McKinley; E Campbell, M Bradley (0-1); P Shiels (0-7, 7f), C Carson, D McKernan; PJ O’Connell (1-2), M Donnelly (0-1), C Clarke (0-3, 1f).
Subs: C Johnson (0-1) for McAlonan (h/t), M Dudley (0-1) for Carson (43), D Hamill for Bradley (59).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).