Joe McDonagh Cup Final Preview – Antrim vs Kerry

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Both Antrim and Kerry had secured their place in this year’s Joe McDonagh Cup Final before the final round of games two weeks ago. Given the late start to this year’s cup, there is no jump to the Championship for the victor. However, this fact won’t curtail either of these two teams who are hoping to reward a good season with silverware. Antrim vs Kerry is at 13:00 on Sunday as a curtain-raiser to the Senior Championship Final.

Most recently, Antrim played Meath in their final group game. The Ulster side showed no sign of respite despite already being qualified. Their scoreline of 2-30 was no doubt a sign of intent from Darren Gleeson’s side.

Gleeson refused to agree with those who consider his side to now be in ‘bonus territory’. The former Tipperary goalkeeper continued to say that his side’s earlier win over Kerry won’t grant them any advantage for this final which will “take a life of its own”.

The only blemish on Antrim’s otherwise perfect record this year was a draw with Carlow. Yet, the fact that they are undefeated and have already beaten Kerry this year will boost the players going into the climax whether Gleeson admits it or not.

Despite their defeat to Antrim in mid-November by seven-points, the Kingdom were the first to secure their place in the final. They bounced back from defeat with a convincing win over a strong Carlow side.

Kerry captain Bryan Murphy echoed Gleeson’s words in dismissing the suggestion that recent results would carry into this game.  “When it comes to a Final it’s anyone’s day,” he says. “Tactics nearly go out the window.”

Kerry have played Antrim thrice this year already but have come off worst on all three occasions. Yet, this is more than enough time to get to know an opponent so Sunday may allow the Munster men to finally decipher the highest rated Ulster Hurling team in Ireland.

The Joe McDonagh Cup Final is on RTÉ on Sunday.

Paddy Power have Antrim as 8/15 favourites versus Kerry’s 7/4 price. A draw is 9/1.

Prediction: Antrim.

Joe McDonagh Cup Final: Antrim vs Kerry, Sunday, December 13th, 13:00 (Croke Park). 

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