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Westmeath storm past Kingdom to win Joe McDonagh Cup

Niall Mitchell hit 1-4 for Westmeath as they won the cup after losing the 2018 and 2019 finals.

Cormac Boyle lifts the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Cormac Boyle lifts the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Westmeath 2-28

Kerry 1-24 

Kevin Egan reports from Croke Park

WESTMEATH FINALLY LIFTED the Joe McDonagh Cup at the third attempt this evening, first half goals from Niall Mitchell and Ciarán Doyle bookending a sensational opening 35 minutes for the midlanders that laid the foundations for their win.

After suffering defeats in 2018 and 2019, a harsh league campaign in amongst five All-Ireland contenders in Division 1A of the Allianz League seemed to sharpen the saw of the Lake County, who were incredibly precise in all facets of their play in the early stages.

Defensively they were superb, particularly in marshalling the threat posed by Shane Conway, with Darragh Egerton continuing his excellent form from the year in that man-marking role.

Up front, their accuracy was exemplary, with just three wides registered in the first half.

Kerry only led once, following their first score from Barry O’Mahony, but Westmeath’s reply was emphatic. Niall Mitchell broke on to possession before gathering and rifling an effort to the roof of John B O’Halloran’s net, and they quickly set about building on that advantage.

Davy Glennon’s four first half points helped Westmeath on their way although Kerry continued to plug away with Shane Conway also striking four half scores in the period. Right

on the stroke of half time, Westmeath struck a devastating blow when Joey Boyle set up Cillian Doyle for a second goal, sending the midlanders nine points clear.

A fast start was needed by the Kingdom after the restart, but instead they struck four wides in the opening six minutes. Westmeath punished their inaccuracy with Cillian Doyle (two), Niall Greville, Niall Mitchell and Glennon all finding the target. Three Kerry points in a row before the water break cut their arrears, but they needed something more.

With 59 minutes, it seemed like they got it, Mikey Boyle their goalscorer as he picked out the bottom corner from the 13m line. However, Westmeath refused to panic as their experience of playing Division One hurling, not to mention their strong bench, shone through. A Killian Doyle free and a fine Aonghus Clarke score settled any nerves.

Kerry to their credit continued to battle away but they struggled to get Shane Conway in to the game in the second half, as he dropped further out the field looking for possession. With their season on the line, Kerry cut the gap down to four at one point, but Westmeath maintained their composure as the experienced Derek McNicholas pointed a free, Niall Mitchell added another, and they sailed over the line to set up Leinster championship hurling in 2022.

ciaran-doyle-celebrates-scoring-the-second-goal Ciaran Doyle gets Westmeath's second goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

 

Scorers for Westmeath: Niall Mitchell 1-4, Killian Doyle 0-6, 3f, Davy Glennon 0-5, Ciaran Doyle 1-2, Robbie Greville 0-4, Aonghus Clarke, Niall O’Brien (1f), 0-2 each, Aaron Craig

Joey Boyle, Derek McNicholas (1f) 0-1 each,

Scorers for Kerry: Padraig Boyle 0-7, 3f, Mikey Boyle 1-3, Shane Conway 0-4 2fs, 1 sideline cut, Cian Hussey 0-3, Shane Nolan and Barry O’Mahony 0-2 each, Daniel Collins, Conor O’Keeffe and Jason Diggins 0-1 each.

Westmeath:

1. Noel Conaty Lough Lene Gaels

2. Darragh Egerton Clonkill

3. Tommy Gallagher Castlepollard

4. Conor Shaw Brownstown

7. Aonghus Clarke Castletown Geoghegan

6. Tommy Doyle Lough Lene Gaels

5. Aaron Craig St Oliver Plunketts

8. Cormac Boyle Raharney

9. Robbie Greville Raharney

10. Davy Glennon Mullagh (Galway)

11. Killian Doyle Raharney

12. Joey Boyle Raharney

15. Niall Mitchell Castletown/Geoghegan

13. Ciaran Doyle Raharney

14. Niall O’Brien Clonkill

Subs: Shane Clavin (Castletown/Geoghegan) for Cormac Boyle (47), Josh Coll (Delvin) for Ciaran Doyle (55), Derek McNicholas (Lough Lene Gaels) for Killian Doyle (61), Shane Williams (Lough Lene Gaels) for O’Brien (67), Darragh Clinton (Delvin) for Joey Boyle (71).

Kerry

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1. John B O’Halloran Kilmoyley

2. Eric Leen St Brendan’s

3. Evan Murphy Causeway

4. Conor O’Keeffe Lixnaw

5. Jason Diggins Causeway

6. Fionan MacKessy S Brendan’s

7. Tomas O’Connor Crotta O’Neills

8. Paudie O’Connor Kilmoyley

9. Shane Nolan Crotta O’Neills

10. Mikey Boyle Ballyduff

11. Daniel Collins Kilmoyley

13 Padraig Boyle Ballyduff

12. Barry O’Mahony Crotta O’Neills

14 Shane Conway Lixnaw

15. Cian Hussey St Brendan’s

Subs: Michael Leane (Ballyheigue), for P. O’Connor (half time), Bryan Murphy

(Causeway) for T. O’Connor (43), Maurice O’Connor (Kilmoyley) for O’Mahony (54).

About the author:

Kevin Egan

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