“Any day you go to the Athletic Grounds and get a results is a good day,” was the immediate reaction of Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, after the final whistle last night.
Donegal had to weather an early storm from Armagh, but once they got into their stride, they were much the better team in Armagh.
“Armagh came at us in the first 20 minutes but you expect that. Every team has their time, but once we settled down I thought we were much the better team, to be honest,” he said.
“We kicked on in the second half and it was a real solid performance. I thought the way we played over the full game was excellent. Once we moved the ball at pace, it was very difficult to defend against,” said Bonner.
Armagh won the physical battle early on but once Donegal got going, they won that battle too with Michael Carroll, Jason McGee, Michael Langan and Rory Carr to the fore.
“We are a big physical side with many of the lads 6’3”, 6’4”. Those lads are well able to look after themselves but they can play football too,” Bonner added.
“This is championship football and you do expect that physicality but our boys are ready for it. Our game is about playing football and moving the ball.
The Donegal manager had particular praise for his defence, who he said sometimes did not get the praise they deserved.
“It’s an improved performance from the last day,” he said.
“We held Tyrone scoreless for 30 minutes in Ballybofey. People don’t talk much about our defence but our defensive game was very good. Defensively they have worked really, really hard.
“Goals win games and it was nice to get them today from the two Gaoth Dobhair men. Daire’s goal was sheer pace and a good finish and Naoise always threaten goals.
“We had two good goal chances in the first half. Niall O’Donnell had a great chance and Conor Doc’s was a shot along the ground.
“We always create goals because of the pace in there. We had a lot of great performances in there today and I don’t like to single out any player but the performance from Rory Carr inside was outstanding,” said Bonner, who added that he was glad to be able to throw in some of his panel in the second half.
He said the O’Baoill’s and Ethan O’Donnell were carrying knocks but felt all three contributed handsomely.
The Donegal manager is going to give the panel members who start their Leaving Certificate on Wednesday a break, but will train the other members of the panel this week.