Jamie Grant breaks out of defence for Donegal
Donegal are looking forward to an Ulster U-17 Minor League final following a five point win over Armagh, in MacCumhaill Park, this afternoon.
St Eunan’s Shane O’Donnell once again top scored with six points, five of them from frees, on a day Donegal had six different scorers.
There may have been five points between the teams at the finish and Donegal were the better balanced side, but Armagh who scored one goal could and should possibly have scored at least two more.
And if they had it could have been a different outcome.
Tieran O’Hare was desperately unlucky to see his drive, after racing through the middle of the Donegal defence, smash back off the crossbar from ten metres.
And it took a top drawer save from Corey Byrne in the Donegal goals to deny Armagh’s Michael King find the net after once again charging through the home rearguard.
Both of those goal chances came early in the second period when Donegal were just three ahead and the tie was still in the balance.
There was little between the teams in the opening quarter hour. Shane O’Donnell got Donegal off the mark with the game’s opening point on three minutes.
But it was Armagh who settled quickest to hit the next two thanks to strikes from Oisin King and Tiernan O’Hare.
Eoin Woods edged the Orchard boys ahead on the quarter hour mark.
But they did not score again for the best part of 15 minutes as Donegal reeled off five points without response to move four ahead 0-7 to 0-3.
Senan Rooney, Leo Dunphy, Stephen McFadden and Rory O’Donnell all found the target for the locals.
But all Donegal’s good work was undone when Armagh on a sporadic raid got in for a goal. Wing forward Peter Murray, who had ghosted in behind the Donegal defence, was picked out by Tiernan O’Hare before rounding Corey Byrne to tap into an empty net.
That was on 30 minutes and Donegal led by a point, 0-7 to 1-3 at half-time.
Shane O’Donnell converted two free early in the third quarter to stretch the Donegal's lead out three points, 0-9 to 1-3, by the 39th minute as the Donegal goals led a charmed existence.
Armagh twice came close to adding a second goal. Tiernan O’Hare drove through the Donegal rearguard - a little too easily- to crack off the crossbar from ten metres.
And seconds later Corey Byrne pulled off a point blank save to deny Michael King from the edge of the rectangle.
Those missed chances seemed to knock the steam out of Armagh and Donegal added four more points on the spin to move ten ahead, 0-13 to 1-3 with a little over a quarter hour remaining.
Armagh hit two late points, their only two of the half, in the closing minutes courtesy Oisin King and Connor Doherty.
Donegal will now face Monaghan in the final. Monaghan defeated Tyrone in the other semi-final also today.
DONEGAL: Corey Byrne; Aaron Gilhooley, Kilian Gildea, Caolan Gallagher; Sean Og Byrne, Shane Gillespie, Jamie Grant (0-1); Michael Coughlan, Rory O’Donnell (0-1); Shane O’Donnell (0-6,5f), Anthony Doherty, Stephen McFadden (0-2,2f), Senan Rooney (0-1), Nathan Byrne (0-1), Leo Dunphy (0-1).
Subs: George Conlon for S McFadden, 48, inj; Jonathan Toye for N Byrne, 51; Eric Carr for R O’Donnell, 58.
ARMAGH: Caolan McPartland; Lee Rice, Ryan Duffy, Shaun McBerry; Liam Finnegan, Michael King, Niall McCorry; Jack Cunningham,Connor Doherty (0-1); Oisin King (0-2), Tiernan O’Hare (0-1), Peter Murray (1-0); Peter Finnegan, Eoin Woods(0-1), James McCormack.
Sub: Aidan Davidson.
REFEREE: Paul McKeever (Antrim)