They may have played second-fiddle to Paul Grimley’s feisty Armagh outfit at the Athletic Grounds for spells yesterday but when the pendulum swung in their favour in the closing stages they still had the appetite and energy to produce a finishing burst.
“I thought this was a very good run-out for us which is what we wanted. We have had a lot of injuries and we are just getting players back gradually,” declared McGuinness.
“We don’t want to be rushing people. We had a nightmare last year with injuries and we are now trying to be careful that the more serious kind of injuries do not recur.”
His team will now go into Wednesday’s third round match against Queen’s bolstered by the prospect of reaching the last four, thus gaining at least one more competitive game before the league. We will take that if it comes.”
The teams were deadlocked at 0-3 each with barely half an hour gone, Darragh O’Connor, Colm McFadden and Michael Murphy on target for the visitors, while Stefan Campbell and Ethan Rafferty (2) landed Armagh points. And then Grimley’s men unleashed a seven-minute scoring blitz immediately prior to the interval, Mark Shields, Oisin MacIomhair, Stefan Forker and Robbie Tasker all finding the range and Armagh swept into a 0-7 to 0-3 interval lead. McGuinness introduced Neil McGee, Leon Thompson and David Walsh at half-time and followed them with Neil Gallagher while Jamie Clarke was pitched into the fray for the home side. Yet Tasker, Campbell and combative sub Eugene McVerry posted points that eased Armagh ahead by 0-10 to 0-5 but after Donegal sub Gary McFadden swung over a fine point, a bombardment of the home citadel eventually saw Colm McFadden crash the ball to the net. Toner and Finian Moriarty were subsequently helped off with injuries while a further brace of points from Murphy and another from impressive newcomer Odhran MacNiallais sealed victory for Donegal. Armagh manager Paul Grimley contends his side is on a learning curve — but accepts lessons can be learned the hard way. “While it was a big blow to us to concede a goal and then lose two players to injury, these are the kind of setbacks that you will suffer and we have to learn to accept this and try and push on,” said Grimley.
Scorers for Donegal: M Murphy 0-4 (0-2f), C McFadden 1-1, O Mac Niallais 0-2, D O’Connor, D Walsh, G McFadden 0-1 each.
Scorers for Armagh: R Tasker 0-3, S Campbell 0-2, E Rafferty 0-2 (0-1 ‘45’), E McVerry, S Forker, M Shields, O MacIomhair 0-1 each.
ARMAGH: P McEvoy; A Mallon, C Vernon, F Moriarty; M Shields, K Toner, C Rafferty; E Rafferty, J Lavery; O MacIomhair, B Mallon, S Campbell; R Tasker, S Forker, N McConville.
Subs: E McVerry for O’Rourke (28), M McKenna for MacIomhair (42), P Hughes for Moriarty (57), J Clarke for Forker (58), C McCooey for Toner (61).
DONEGAL: M Boyle; Declan Walsh, E McGee, E Doherty; F McGlynn, L McLoone, K Lacey; M Smyth, R Kavanagh; O MacNiallais, D Molloy, T McKinley; C McFadden, M Murphy, D O’Connor.
Subs: N McGee for Doherty, L Thompson, for T McKinley, D Walsh for D Molloy (all half-time), N Gallagher for Smyth (47), G McFadden for Kavanagh (55), S McLaughlin for O’Connor (60).
Referee: Eamon McHugh (Tyrone).