Donegal are back in Division One of the league with a deserved victory over Armagh in the Athletics Grounds.
The result meant that Armagh make the drop to Division Three but on the day, apart from Jamie Clarke, they had no answer to Donegal for whome Rory Kavanagh was again outstanding at midfield.
Donegal needed a draw to secure promotion, but they always looked likely to win this game.
Armagh were all at sea in the opening quarter, even with the strong breeze. They even attacked the wrong way from the throw-in. Donegal had four points on the board inside six minutes with two Colm McFadden frees either side of two fantastic points from play from Rory Kavanagh.
Kyle Carragher and Aaron Kernan eventually got Armagh on the board on eight minutes before Donegal had the opening goal on 14 minutes.
Michael Murphy was clinical from the penalty spot after Colm McFadden was fouled. There was fortune attached as the move began with Odhran MacNiallais going for a point but the ball swung on the wind and Dermot Molloy did well to keep in play.
It looked desperate for Armagh, behind by five points, but up stepped their captain Jamie Clarke. He squeezed home a goal after being put through in a very tight situation by Kevin Dyas. Minutes later he swung home a might score from near the sideline to reduce the margin to a point.
Clarke put Stefan Campbell through for another goal chance on 25 minutes but Paul Durcan denied him with a great save with Anthony Thompson clearing for a ‘45’. Campbell was also denied a goal with a last ditch block by Eamon McGee on 29 minutes.
On 35 minutes Colm McFadden converted a free after Karl Lacey was fouled while Clarke was off target with the final effort of the half from a free. Half-time: Donegal 1-5, Armagh 1-3.
The second half started with Tony Kernan pointing a ‘45’ but from the kick-out their fate was sealed. Paul Durcan’s kick was fielded by Rory Kavanagh and he hit first time to Michael Murphy, who fielded behind Charlie Vernon, swivelled and fired to the net. It brought back memories of his county final goal against St. Michael’s two years ago.
From there to the finish Armagh fought very hard, but they were unable to get within four points of the Donegal men.
Tony Kernan converted two more frees but Donegal were able to bring in Patrick McBrearty and he was able to tack on two great scores to keep Donegal well in front.
Just before the end Donegal lost David Walsh to a black card, but it was academic. By then Armagh had replaced the only player likely to make a difference, Jamie Clarke, as he was becoming increasingly frustrated.
Armagh: Philip McEvoy; Michael Murray, Gary McCooey (0-1), Andy Mallon; Aaron Kernan, Charlie Vernon, Finian Moriarty; Stephen Harold, Kieran Tonery; Stefan Campbell, Kevin Dyas, Eugene McVerry; Jamie Clarke (1-1), Tony Kernan (0-3,45,2f), Kyle Carragher (0-1). Subs., Aaron Findon for A Kernan 48; Ethan Rafferty for Dyas; Rory Grugan for McCooey, both 51; Robbie Tasker (0-1) for Clarke 66.
Donegal: Paul Durcan; Eamon McGee, Neil McGee, Karl Lacey; Frank McGlynn, Leo McLoone, Anthony Thompson; Rory Kavanagh (0-3), Neil Gallagher, Christy Toye, Martin McElhinney, Odhran MacNiallais; Colm McFadden (0-5,4f), Michael Murphy (2-0,1-0 pen), Dermot Molloy. Subs., Patrick McBrearty (0-2) for N Gallagher 48; David Walsh for Toye, Ryan McHugh for Molloy, both 56; Hugh McFadden for McElhinney 64; Declan Walsh for David Walsh, black card 69.
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).