Beaming Donegal boss Jim McGuinness hailed what he described as “a good campaign” but in contrast Armagh counterpart Paul Grimley launched a blistering attack on referee Fergal Kelly, inferring that his performance played a role in his team’s demotion to Division Three.
McGuinness said: “While it has been a good campaign for us the most pleasing aspect is that we have got several players back on board who had been out for long periods. We now have a divisional final ahead of us that will prove ideal preparation for the Ulster Championship.
Grimley’s frustrations were ventilated in a sharp verbal brickbat directed at the Kelly. “There were certain decisions not given that had a major impact on this crucial game. It was terrible,” declared the Armagh boss.
A blistering start that yielded four points in the opening six minutes, two each from Rory Kavanagh and Colm McFadden, suggested Donegal would boss the contest but Armagh’s ability to counter-attack sharply was underlined within a two-minute spell during which Kyle Carragher and Aaron Kernan landed points.
Donegal, though, still carried a considerable threat and when McFadden was hauled down by Finian Moriarty in the 16th minute, Murphy swept home the penalty for a 1-4 to 0-2 lead.
But when Jamie Clarke almost immediately wriggled his way in to stab the ball past Paul Durcan before tacking on a point, Armagh were very much back in business.
Donegal led 1-5 to 1-3 at the break but three minutes into the second-half Murphy pounced for their second goal and from then on they held the whip hand.
The introduction of Patrick McBrearty from the bench complemented Donegal’s fire-power.
Scorers for Donegal: M Murphy 2-0 (1-0 pen), C McFadden 0-6 (0-5 frees), R Kavanagh 0-2, P McBrearty 0-2.
Scorers for Armagh: J Clarke 1-1, T Kernan 0-3, (1 ’45’, 2f), G McCooey 0-1, K Carragher 0-1, A Kernan 0-1, R Tasker 0-1.
DONEGAL: P Durcan; E McGee, N McGee, K Lacey; F McGlynn, L McLoone, A Thompson; R Kavanagh, M McElhinney; N Gallagher, C Toye, O MacNiallias; C McFadden, M Murphy, D Molloy.
Subs: P McBrearty for Gallagher (47), D Walsh for Toye (55), R McHugh for Molloy (55), H McFadden for McElhinney (63), Declan Walsh for David Walsh (72), ARMAGH: P McEvoy; M Murray, G McCooey, A Mallon; A Kernan,, K Toner, F Moriarty; S Harold, S Campbell; C Vernon, K Dyas, E McVerry; J Clarke, T Kernan, K Carragher.
Subs: A Findon for A Kernan (49), E Rafferty for Dyas (51), R Grugan for McCooey (52), R Tasker for Clarke (66), Referee: Fergal Kelly