Having the luxury of a substitute like Michael Murphy was the winning of the match for Donegal against Armagh in Ballybofey tonight.
Declan Bonner opted to take his skipper from the bench seven minutes before half-time with the scores level at 0-3 to 0-3 and before the half ended, the ball was in the back of the Armagh net.
Substitute Murphy, on his first outing of the year. finished off a pass from Michael Langan to edge his team into a slender 1-4 to 0-6 lead in miserable conditions in the north-west.
At half-time the goalposts were wobbling in the wind but Donegal managed to weather the storm to post their first win in three, following losses at the hands of Tipperary and Fermanagh.
Armagh looked as though they’d go in ahead as Stefan Campbell and Niall Grimley had pointed twice apiece in the first half. However, three frees from Langan kept Donegal in touch prior to their skipper’s arrival.
Langan, who scored five points in all, was involved in the flashpoint of the opening period when he went in heavy on Jemar Hall on 18 minutes.
In the afters, players from both teams got involved and when the dust settled match referee Martin McNally dismissed a player from each team. James Morgan of Armagh and Jason McGee from Donegal were the ones shown the line.
The second half was a tamer affair with Murphy adding two fine late points in the final 10 minutes. Armagh pushed their way back into it with Rian O’Neill impressing but Ethan Rafferty’s late free – when he smashed for goal in the fifth minute of injury time – flew over and Kieran McGeeney’s team went down by the minimum.
Scorers for Donegal: M Murphy 1-2, M Langan 0-5 (5f), C Thompson (f), N O’Donnell 0-1 each
Scorers for Armagh: R O’Neill 0-4 (1f), N Grimley 0-3 (3f), S Campbell 0-2, J Clarke 0-1, E Rafferty (f) 0-1 each
Donegal S Patton; S McMenamin, B McCole, C Ward; R McHugh, L McLoone, Eoghan Ban Gallagher; H McFadden, C McGonagle; C Thompson, J McGee, M Langan; J Brennan, O Gallen, N O’Donnell.
Subs: M Murphy for Gallen (28), E McHugh for Thompson (47), P Brennan for McMenamin (55)
Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, A McKay, R McShane; C Mackin, G McCabe, P Hughes; S Sheridan, N Grimley; J Hall, R Grugan, C Vernon; S Campbell, R O’Neill, J Clarke.
Subs: R Kennedy for McShane (h-t), E Rafferty for Campbell (39), J Burns for Vernon (63), M Shields for Hall (63), J McElroy for Mackin (69).
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan).