Ulster SFC: Impressive Donegal advance to decider
Ulster SFC semi-finall
DONEGAL: 1-22 ARMAGH: 0-13
By Declan Bogue
IT may be that Donegal represent the greatest hope of Dublin being stopped in their quest to accumulate six All-Ireland titles in a row.
With Kerry gone, that appears the case. But how much we can tell from this poor challenge from Armagh is quite another thing.
They have serious physical gifts and an aggressive style of play that is far from their incarnation of 2011. Few teams go after the opposition like Donegal and their skill level is high, even allowing for the sheer size they boast across the middle.
Orchard boss Kieran McGeeney may have thought back to his first time on the line for his native county in 2015, when they went in at half time 1-9 to 0-2 down.
Here it was even worse, 1-12 to 0-3 down when the teams went in for their cuppa.
Donegal pressed high on Armagh goalkeeper Blaine Hughes' kickout and they made them pay with Michael Langan especially dominant under the kickout.
The goal came toward the end of the first half when the ball broke off Aidan Forker and fell to Peader Mogan. He scooped it up and made for goal, unleashing a powerful drive beyond Hughes.
In truth, the game was over as a contest at this point. Armagh offered nothing in terms of getting moves going and it was noticeable how easily Donegal - admittedly a team of huge men - were able to strip them of the ball.
The second half was fairly drab as Donegal cruised home.
One notable factor however was how they were able to give gametime for the first time in the Championship to Paddy McBrearty who scored with his first touch. They have a decent fleet of attackers when you consider Oisin Gallen had to make do with just a 15 minute spell.
Manager Declan Bonner may be a little alarmed however at their most tenacious defender Stephen McMenamin coming off with a hamstring injury after only three minutes.
"It doesn't look good for him to be quite honest. And with the short turnaround now it is going to be quite difficult to see him ready for next week," he said.
"It looked like he done his hamstring, looked like he done damage, yeah."
With Odhran McFadden-Ferry on a tour of duty with the Irish Army, Donegal's injury issues, Paul Brennan also coming off on 44 minutes, could harm their chances.
Scorers for Donegal: P Mogan 1-2, M Langan 0-3, R McHugh, J Brennan 0-2 each, C McGonigle 0-2, 1m, C Thompson 0-2, 1f, N O'Donnell 0-2, 1m, M Murphy 0-2f, EB Gallagher, H McFadden (m), P McBrearty, O Gallen, A McClean 0-1 each
Scorers for Armagh: R O'Neill 0-7, 6f, 1x'45', J Clarke 0-2, C Turbitt 0-2, 1m, O O'Neil 0-1, N Grimley 0-1m
DONEGAL: S Patton; S McMenamin, N McGee, EB Gallagher; R McHugh, P Brennan, P Mogan; H McFadden, C McGonigle; C Thompson, N O'Donnell, M Langan; E McHugh, M Murphy, J Brennan. Subs: J McKelvey for McMenamin (3m), A McClean for P Brennan (44m), P McBrearty for J Brennan (50m), J McGee for McFadden (52m), O Gallen for E McHugh (59m)
ARMAGH: B Hughes; P Burns, R Kennedy, J Morgan; C O'Neill, A Forker, M Shields; O O'Neill, S Sheridan; R Grugan, G McCabe, S Campbell; J Clarke, R O'Neill, J Óg Burns. Subs: N Grimley for Sheridan (30m), J Hall for C O'Neill, A Murnin for JÓg Burns (HT), E Rafferty for Murnin (47m), C Turbitt for Grugan (52m)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)