Donegal survive in Division One

Donegal survived in Division One of the National League thanks to a very strong second half performance.

Donegal survived in Division One of the National League thanks to a very strong second half performance.

Donegal 0-13

Armagh 0-10

They turned around a three point deficit in the final quarter, keeping Armagh scoreless in that period but they can thank an upright, which denied Jamie Clarke when the sides were level with nine minutes left.

Already without the injured Michael Murphy, they lost All-Star full-back Neil McGee in the warm-up and were chasing Armagh in the opening half as Michael Stevenson gave an exhibition of free taking to leave the Orchard men 0-7 to 0-5 ahead at the break.

Stevenson stretched that lead to four points within five minutes of the restart but then Donegal found their form and thanks to the promptings of the inexperienced Declan Walsh and midfielders Neil Gallagher and Rory Kavanagh, they struck back to level matters with substitute Marty O’Reilly punching the equaliser with his first touch.

They then had a slice of luck when Jamie Clarke struck an upright after sidestepping Paul Durcan and they took full advantage with Rory Kavanagh putting them ahead for the first time and they held their nerve to stay in front.

Armagh had another goal chance in the final attack with John Kingham’s shot blocked as Donegal nerve ends tingled.

“We asked them the question at half-time and their mentality and approach to the second half was brilliant; to be fair they delivered in spades.

“We were without Michael (Murphy); Neil McGee was injured in the warm-up and we were also without Christy Toye. Our squad was stretched but the 15 and those that came in, we would very happy with them.

“It definitely wasn’t a perfect peformance. There were a lot of mistakes made. But we showed a hunger, desire and determination and that is what got them over the line. The normal situation after kicking bad wides is that heads might go down, but this wasn’t the situation and we’re very happy for them,” said McGuinness.

Armagh manager Paddy O’Rourke felt Donegal deserved the win but felt his side missed an opportunity

“We had a chance to win it. It was a draw when Jamie’s (Clarke) shot hit the post. If that had gone in it was over. But it didn’t happen and fair play to Donegal, they fought to the end and ended up with the most scores on the board and they are deserving winners.

Donegal: P Durcan; F McGlynn (0-1), E McGee, Declan Walsh; A Thompson, K Lacey, L McLoone (0-1); R Kavanagh (0-2), N Gallagher; M McHugh, R Bradley, D McLaughlin; David Walsh, C McFadden (0-5,2f), M McElhinney (0-1). Subs., D Molloy (0-1)for McLaughlin 27; P McBrearty for McElhinney 30; M O’Reilly (0-1) for E McGee 59; S Griffin for McBrearty 69; A Hanlon (0-1) for McLoone 71.

Armagh: P McEvoy; A Mallon, B Donaghy (0-1), D McKenna; P Duffy, C McKeever (0-1), F Moriarty; A Kernan, C Vernon; B Mallon (0-1), J Clarke, A Duffy; M Stevenson (0-7,7f), C Rafferty, K Dyas. Subs., T Kernan for P Duffy ht; J Lavery for Moriarty 50; M O’Rourke for B Mallon 45; G McParland for Stevnson 58; J Kingham for T Kernan 69

Referee: C Reilly (Meath)