Allianz FL D1 North: Donegal finish strongly to earn important point
Allianz Football League Division One North
ARMAGH 1-16 DONEGAL 1-16
By Declan Bogue at the Athletic Grounds
For the second week in a row, Donegal clawed themselves out of a tough situation without Michael Murphy leading the way for them.
They eked out a draw at the end, killing the last few minutes of the game knowing that outcome would put them into the semi-finals.
For the first time in 449 days Armagh fans were able to welcome their team back in action and they turned in a performance that was sensational at times, Stefan Campbell to the fore with four brilliant points from play, while he also created a goal for substitute Tiernan Kelly.
Donegal’s major came from Michael Langan, and they had Patrick McBrearty’s eight points to thank for their status in the top flight being secured for another year.
Things looked a little different for Declan Bonner’s men even before the start. They lost Neil McGee in the warm up and were forced into a very later defensive reshuffle and while Armagh had many bodies behind the break, they showed serious fitness to get back up the pitch and score heavily on the board.
Their pace and commitment to the attack is actually a serious weapon, and with new coaching addition Kieran Donaghy calling them to defend from their own 65 metre line, they looked seriously well drilled compared to the team that collapsed under a kickout press from Donegal in last winter’s Ulster Championship.
Armagh went in 0-10 to 0-6 up at the break. Without Michael Murphy, Donegal tried a few different freetakers on the right foot that they would consider bankers, with little success. Armagh’s final score of the half, a 55 metre dig from Oisin O’Neill that sailed over the bar with plenty to spare was like one of Murphy’s Greatest Hits.
They kept the scoreboard ticking early in the second half before Michael Langan crowned a run from inside his own half and thrashed the ball beyond Armagh goalkeeper Blaine Hughes to the net.
Stefan Campbell set up Orchard sub Tiernan Kelly for their goal on 56 minutes to put Armagh up by four, but every ounce of Donegal’s experience was used in the final quarter to secure the draw.
With eight points, Patrick McBrearty became the undisputed team leader on the night, coming on the loop to slot over with no time available.
Scorers for Armagh: S Campbell 0-4, T Kelly 1-1, O O’Neill 0-3, R Grugan 0-3 (3fs), J Morgan, C O’Hanlon, J Hall, R McQuillan, R O’Neill (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Donegal: P McBrearty 0-8, (3fs), M Langan 1-1, C O’Donnell 0-2, R McHugh, C Thompson, C Ward, N O’Donnell (f) 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: B Hughes, R Finn, J Morgan, G McCabe, C Mackin, A McKay, C O’Hanlon, N Grimley, J Óg Burns, J Hall, R O’Neill, R McQuillan, R Grugan, O O’Neill, S Campbell.
Subs: C Turbitt for Morgan (HT), T Kelly for McQuillan (40 mins), P Hughes for Finn (64 mins), A Murnin for Burns (70+4 mins), J Grugan for O O’Neill (70+5 mins).
DONEGAL: S Patton, E McHugh, S McMenamin, B McCole, R McHugh, P Brennan, EB Gallagher, H McFadden, C McGonagle, C Thompson, P Mogan, M Langan, P McBrearty, E McGettigan, N O’Donnell.
Subs: O MacNiallais for P Brennan, C O’Donnell for McGettigan (both 40 mins), C Ward for E McHugh (58 mins), J McGee for McFadden (60 mins), E O’Donnell for Thompson (70 mins).
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois).