Westmeath too good for Kerry as they lift Joe McDonagh Cup

Niall Mitchell’s goal sets his side on their way to victory at a scorching Croke Park

Westmeath celebrate their Joe McDonagh Cup  final win over Kerry. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Westmeath celebrate their Joe McDonagh Cup final win over Kerry. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Westmeath 2-28 Kerry 1-24

Westmeath’s senior hurlers were full value for their seven-point winning margin against last year’s losing finalists Kerry in the Joe McDonagh Cup final played in sweltering conditions at Croke Park.

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, Kerry’s tally of 17 wides was to prove costly. The imposing figure of Mitchell remained a thorn in the Kerry defence right to the end and his classy point in the fourth minute of added-time sealed Westmeath’s first win in the tier two competition after two previous defeats in finals (2018 and 2019).

Westmeath: N Conaty; D Egerton, T Gallagher, C Shaw; A Craig (0-1), T Doyle, A Clarke (0-2); C Boyle, R Greville (0-4); D Glennon (0-5), K Doyle (0-6, three frees), J Boyle (0-1); C Doyle (1-2), N O’Brien (0-2, one free), N Mitchell (1-4). Subs: S Clavin for C Boyle (49 mins), J Coll for C Doyle (55 mins), D McNicholas (0-1, free) for K Doyle (62 mins), S Williams for O’Brien (67 mins), D Clinton for J Boyle (70 + 1 mins).

Kerry: JB O’Halloran; E Leen, E Murphy, C O’Keeffe (0-1); J Diggins (0-1), F Mackessy, T O’Connor; P O’Connor, S Nolan (0-2); M Boyle (1-3), D Collins (0-1), B O’Mahony (0-2); P Boyle (0-7, three frees), S Conway (0-4, two frees, one lineball), C Hussey (0-3). Subs: M Leane for P O’Connor (half-time), B Murphy for T O’Connor (43 mins), M O’Connor for O’Mahony (54 mins).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).

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