Donegal are back winning matches again following yesterday’s two point victory over Armagh, in the Dr McKenna Cup.
A Colm McFadden scrambled goal nine minutes from the end of normal time turned this tie on its ahead and saw the men from the North West come from behind for their first competitive win of 2014.
The goal was a reward for peristence and determination as McFadden (twice) had been denied at point blank by Philip McEvoy and Darach O’Connor (once) by Kieran Toner, withlast ditch saves before McFadden, following up, blasted to the Armagh net to bring his side back into a contest that seemed to be slipping away.
After the goal Donegal ,who had been out of of sorts for most of the second period, were a transformed side. And Michael Murphy tied up the game five minutes later after good work from Odhran MacNiallais, who had a good game throughout.
And they were in front shortly afterwards for the first time since the 25 minute when Murphy pointed brilliantly from between the 13 and 20 metre lines way out on the left hand wing and close to the side. A trademark Murphy strike! With Donegal tails up, MacNiallais rounded off a good day with two late points to stretch the Donegal lead out to three points before Robbie Tasker kicked Armagh’s only point of the closing 20 minutes.
Donegal had started the game at a lively pace and hit the game’s opening two scores courtesy of points from Darach O’ Connor and Colm McFadden. New kid on the block O’Connor grafted hard before taking a lay back from Michael Murphy to pop over on the minute mark. McFadden converted from 30 metres for number two four minutes later.
While Armagh were winning loads of possession and despite playing with the aid of a very strong wind that blew directly down the Athletic Grounds, they struggled against a resolute Donegal defence.
Wing forward Stefan Campbell, after a number of wayward strikes finally, broke the deadlock for the locals on 13 minutes. And one minute later Ethan Rafferty landed a spectacular from outside the 45 to tie up the game. Donegal were really struggling under their own kickouts and were labouring around midfield.
Yet despite this Donegal continued to forage well in defence and with MacNiallais, McFadden and O’Connor troubling the Orchard rearguard they were soon back in front again. Murphy, on 23 minutes, drove between the posts from 40 metres to edge Donegal 0-3 to 0-2 in front once more. And that was how it remained until the locals put on a late spurt in the closing nine minutes of the half. In that period - Ethan Rafferty, Mark Shields, Oisin MacIomhair, Stefan Forker and Robbie Tasker - all found the target to send the Orchard County, in 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time.
Michael Murphy and David Walsh - a half-time replacement - scored early points on the resumption for Donegal to reduce the margin to two, 0-7 to 0-5.
But Armagh, as they did in the first period, slowly took control again and with Rafferty and James Lavery ruling the air around midfield the locals pulled away again and by the end of the third quarter had sailed five clear, 0-10 to 0-5 courtesy of strikes from Campbell and substitute McVerry.
But McFadden’s goal turned the tie around and not even the introduction of Jamie Clarke late on could halt the Donegal men.
Donegal: Michael Boyle, Declan Walsh, Eamon McGee, Eamon Doherty; Frank McGlynn, Leo McLoone, Karl Lacey; Matthew Smyth, Rory Kavanagh; Odhran MacNiallais (0-2), Dermot Molloy, Thomas McKinley; Colm McFadden (1-1,1f), Michael Murphy (0-4,3f), Darach O’ Connor (0-1). Subs: Neil McGee for E Doherty; Leon Thompson for D Molloy; David Walsh (0-1) for T McKinley (all at h/t); Neil Gallagher for M Smyth (46); Gary McFadden (0-1) for R Kavanagh (54); Stephen McLaughlin for D O’Connor (63 inj).
Armagh: Philip McEvoy; Andy Mallon, Charlie Vernon, Finian Moriarty; Mark Shields (0-1), Kieran Toner, Ciaran Rafferty; Ethan Rafferty (0-2,1,45), James Lavery; Oisin MacIomhair (0-1), Kevin O’Rourke, Stefan Campbell (0-2); Robbie Tasker (0-3), Stefan Forker (0-1,1f), Niall McConville. Subs: Eugene McVerry (0-1) for K O’Rourke (27); Michael McKenna for Oisin MacIomhair (44); Paul Hughes for F Moriarty (57,inj); Jamie Clarke for S Forker (59); Ciaran McCooey for K Toner(65 inj).
Referee: Eamon McHugh (Tyrone)