Donegal minors took something of a battering against Armagh in the final of the Ulster Minor League Shield in Clones yesterday.
Donegal went into the game minus their u-17 players as well as Stephen McBrearty, who were all involved with the Donegal development squads in Ballyshannon.
They also lost Raymond McNamee and Mark Gallagher in the warm-up and from an early stage, despite playing with the stiff breeze, Donegal were facing an uphill struggle against a very lively Armagh side.
Armagh were four points ahead inside seven minutes with Ciaran O’Hanlon, Callum Cumiskey, Ryhan McShane and Barry Murphy pointing.
Donegal’s attacks lacked real penetration with many shots ending up short and by half-time they also had hit nine wides, almost all of them from some very good positions.
Ryan McHugh found Eoin McHugh with a good ball over the top for Donegal’s opening point on 11 minutes and two more points from Willie Gillespie and Hugh McFadden to one from Callum Cumiskey gave Donegal some hope by the midway stage.
But disaster struck on 20 minutes when a high ball from Ethan Rafferty was dropped by the Donegal defence and Barry Murphy took full advantage, delicately chipping Daniel Mullarkey for the first goal.
Before half-time Ciaran O’Hanlon added two more points, one of them a flick that went just over the crossbar to leave Armagh ahead by 1-7 to 0-3 at the break.
The pattern didn’t change after the break despite Ryan McHugh pointing a free on 34 minutes. Callum Cumiskey, Ryan McShane and Barry Coyle (2) added points and midfielder Ethan Rafferty blazed a goal chance just across the goal.
Before the end Donegal added two more points, frees by substitute Michael Roarty, but they rarely threatened and by the end of the game had recorded 13 wides.
Armagh, on the other hand, continued to keep the score ticking over with Diarmaid O’Hagn and Ciaran O’Hanlon both adding a brace of points.
Overall, it was a disappointing performance from the Donegal boys, with very few putting their hand up for a starting place in the Ulster Championship against Cavan, which is just three weeks away.
Hughie McFadden had a very good opening 20 minutes at midfield, keeping Donegal in the contest and Ryan McHugh did well from wing-back. Willie Gillespie, Eoin McHugh and Conor Parke also tried hard, but against a very good Armagh side, they were playing second fiddle.
Scorers - Donegal: Michael Roarty 0-2, 2f; Ryan McHugh 0-1(f), Eoin McHugh, Willie Gillespie, Hughie McFadden 0-1 each.
Armagh: Ciaran O’Hanlon 0-5; Barry Murphy 1-1; Callum Cumiskey 0-3,1f; Barry Coyle, Diarmuid O’Hagan, Ryan McShane 0-2 each; Ethan Rafferty 0-1
Donegal: Daniel Mullarkey; Gary Kelly, Nicholas Breslin, Conor Parke; Ryan McHugh, Kevin McNern, Darragh Mulgrew; Hugh McFadden, Kevin Herron; Wilie Gillespie, John McGarvey, Kevin O’Loughlin; Eoin McHugh, Conor McBrearty, Cathal McGettigan. Subs., John Fitzgerald for McBrearty 22; Michael Roarty for McGettigan 41; Colm Melaugh for Gillespie 43; Kieran Lynch for E McHugh 50
Armagh: Malachy Trainor; Shea Heffron, Sean Connell, Michael Finnegan; Stephen Renaghan, Donal O’Neill, Conor Hoey; Ethan Rafferty, Paul Campbell; Barry Murphy, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Niall Grimley; Callum Cumiskey, Niall Hollywood, Ryan McShane. Subs., Ryan Carson for P Campbell 20; Barry Coyle for Hollywood 37; Diarmuid O’Hagan for Murphy 41; Daniel Nugent for O’Hanlon 55
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)