Donegal on the rise as Armagh fall again

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Donegal on the rise as Armagh fall again
Outside the Athletic Grounds on Sunday - about 20 minutes before throw-in - a Donegal supporter could be overheard plotting the possibilities.

Outside the Athletic Grounds on Sunday - about 20 minutes before throw-in - a Donegal supporter could be overheard plotting the possibilities.

A result for Jim McGuinness’s team against Armagh would rubber-stamp promotion and seal a place in the Allianz League Division Two final.

A Donegal victory would leave Armagh on the brink of relegation with favours required from Down, who were facing Laois at O’Moore Park.

“That would be too good,” the supporter said of Donegal’s promotion going with Armagh’s possible demotion.

Not very politically correct maybe but certain Donegal followers have scarred memories of Armagh. It wasn’t much of a rivalry, as a rivalry generally involves two protagonists at roughly the same level.

In the noughties, regimental Armagh were the embodiment of professionalism; while laissez-faire Donegal were not. Armagh were the schoolyard bullies. Inevitably, Donegal were the ones handing over their lunch money.

Armagh beat, robbed or hammered - in no particular order - Donegal in the every championship inclusive from 2002 to 2006. They straight-jacketed Mickey Moran, Brian McEniff and Brian McIver.

They infamously battered John Joe Doherty’s Donegal in the qualifiers in Crossmaglen in 2010. The only apple Donegal swiped from the Orchard was Brendan Devenney’s poxy goal to win the 2007 Ulster quarter-final.

All Donegal’s luck came at once on that smothering day.

Under McGuinness, though, Donegal have been eating their own lunches that they’ve paid for themselves. They relegated Armagh from Division One in 2012.

Rory Kavanagh, on Sunday, was man of the match for the second time in eight days following his impressive showing against Louth, whilst his co-rider Neil Gallagher was back at his side.

Karl Lacey’s had his best performance since the 2012 All-Ireland final.

Michael Murphy slammed home a first half penalty before Jamie Clarke, with an instinctive finish as he was losing balance, poked home an Armagh goal.

Murphy added a second goal on 39 minutes when a Paul Durcan kick-out was seized by Kavanagh, who instantly flashed into the captain to smash home.

It was football in its’ simplest, yet most effective form.

Donegal won 2-10 to 1-8 and there was no favour from Down, who lost 1-16 to 2-10 against Laois. Paul Grimley laid the blame on Fergal Kelly, the referee, who was certainly inconsistent but in no ways biased. There was a sense of straw grasping from Grimley.

“You’re saying I played 148 games for Donegal, but I don’t think I would’ve been pulled or hauled as much in the other 147,” Colm McFadden wondered. “Maybe they were watching a different game.”

A different game perhaps.

But Donegal’s successes over a now third-flight Armagh shows football is in a different era.