Antrim and Kerry shared the spoils at St Gall’s opening in 1988

Antrim 1-7 Kerry 1-7

Antrim and Kerry served up an entertaining hour’s football at the opening of St Gall’s new grounds at Milltown in a game that ended level on 1-7 apiece.

On the face of it this might look like a very good result for Antrim, but the Saffron have only themselves to blame for not winning the game. They had an abundance chances to do so, but a total of seventeen wides, (eleven of them in the opening half when wind assisted) tells its own story.

It is not that they didn’t play well, for indeed there were times when some of their movement was quite spectacular, but on many occasions that final touch let them down. However to dwell on the result of a challenge game would be wrong for the day belonged to St Gall’s who opened a splendid ground which they can be rightly proud of.

Antrim were somewhat taken aback in the early stages, not only by the speed with which the Kerry men moved the ball, but also the way they seemed to think quicker and see the openings, and it was no surprise when the Munster champions took an early lead with points from Sean Walks and Michael McAuliffe (2).

A point from midfielder Ciaran O’Neill was Antrim’s first score and from then on they began to settle. They missed great opportunities of further scores before full forward Brian White gave them a great boost when he rose above the Kindom’s full back Jack O’Shea to punch the ball past Charlie Nelligan in the Kerry goal. Brian White, Donal Armstrong and Alec McQuillan all missed good chances in the next ten minutes and they were made to pay dearly for those errors as Kerry strung together a lovely flowing move which ended with a John Kennedy goal, to put them 1-3 to 1-1 ahead. Antrim recovered from the set-back to draw level by half time thanks to points from Mickey Darragh and Donal Armstrong.

With the breeze favouring Kerry in the second half Antrim appeared to have a major struggle on their hands, but they got and early boost when Alec McQuillan pointed a free four minutes after the restart to restore his team’s lead. Tom Spillane brought Kerry level with a point at the other end but Antirm were soon back in front when Enda McAtamney pointed following a good move by Seamus McGoran and Donal Armstrong.

Kerry levelled the scores again with a point from Sean Walsh in the 41st minute and three minutes later they retook the lead with one from John Joe Sheehy. A fines solo score from Barney McCann in the 50th minute restored parity once again and Antrim looked well placed for victory minutes later when substitute Ciaran Hamill split the Kerry posts. Thing looked good for the home side as full time approached but they were denied the victory in the final minutes when John Kennedy popped over a point to earn the visitors a draw.

Overall a pleasing enough result for both teams and a good work out with championship time fast approaching. It was interesting to note that it was Antrim who looked the fitter team of the two but they will have to sharpen up their finishing before they face Tyrone in the championship in June.

Best for Antrim were Liam Turbitt in goal, who made three outstanding saves in the first half, while Seamus McGoran had an outstanding game at corner back, closely followed by Dessie McGuckin, Mickey Corr, Charlie McStravick, and Alec McQuillan.

Ciaran O’Neill had a tremendous second half at midfield where he was ably assisted by Stephen Mulvenna while in the forwards ‘Harry’ McGuckin was the star with Donal Armstrong Barney McCann and Enda McAtamney lending good support.

Antrim scorers – Brian White 1-0, Enda McAtamney 0-1, Ciaran O’Neill 0-1, Barney McCann 0-1, Alec McQuillan 0-1, Donal Armstrong 0-1, Mickey Darragh 0-1.

ANTRIM – Liam Turbitt, Seamus McGoran, Gregg Finnegan, Dessie McGuckin, Michael Corr, Charlie McStravick, Alec McQuillan, Ciaran O’Neill, Stephen Mulvenna, Enda McAtamney, Harry McGuckin, Mickey Darragh, Donal Armstrong, Brian White, Barney McCann. SUBS – Ciaran Hamill and Timmy Connolly.

KERRY – C Nelligan, C Cuchane, J O’Shea, P O’Sé, E Walsh, J O’Dwyer, E Lynch, T Spilanne, F Murphy, J Shannon, JJ Sheehy, J Kennedy, M McAuliffe, S Walsh, G Murphy.

Referee – Gerry McClory

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