McDonnell kicks Armagh to glory

Armagh Senior football captain Steven McDonnell showed no signs of being one of the elder statesmen in the Orchard County, as he helped them to a National Football League Division 2 success at Croke Park yesterday.

Armagh Senior football captain Steven McDonnell showed no signs of being one of the elder statesmen in the Orchard County, as he helped them to a National Football League Division 2 success at Croke Park yesterday.

The 30-year old put in a sterling display, and bagged six points as Armagh ran out slender 0-17 to 1-12 winners over Down.

McDonnell joins an elite group of players who have captained their respective county to both Division 1 and Division 2 league honours, with McDonnell leading the charge when Armagh picked up top-tier silverware in 2005.

“It was very, very important for us to come up here and get a win. The last time we were up here we were obviously beaten by Wexford so we felt that we didn’t do ourselves any justice that day. It was very important that we came up here and put in a good performance,” McDonnell said.

“There are a lot of young lads around me which spurred me on, and when you see them busting a gut it makes me want to do it as well. It’s very important that we have that mix."

The left-corner forward expected a tough battle from his sides Ulster neighbours, with the game going right to the wire in the closing stages..

“It was a very tight match, though we were expecting that anyway after Down beat us in Newry seven weeks ago in Newry.

“We knew coming up here today that we were underdogs coming in; we knew it was going to be a tough battle but hard work gets you through these games and in the last five minutes I suppose we were willing to work that extra bit harder.”

Meanwhile Down corner-forward Benny Coulter isn't keen on letting yesterday's final disappointment upset him for long.

"We put big Dan (Gordon) in there in the last few minutes, the ball went in to the edge of the square and we were looking for a goal, but it didn't come off.

"Fair play to Armagh, they came out on top and fair play to them."

Coulter felt that Down played too much into Armagh's hands on the day, and in particular those of Orchard county centre-half back Ciaran McKeever.

"We kicked a lot of balls down Ciaran McKeever's throat, and that was something we were told not to do.

"They pulled a man back, and we kicked three or four balls down McKeever's throat. After half-time we tried to push a man back on him to counteract that, and we stopped kicking balls down his throat.

"We kicked four or five balls away in the first half when we shouldn't have."

But Benny says that it's now all about the Championship.

"It's only the league, we look five weeks down the line. You'll not remember a league final in three or four weeks down the line.

"At the end of the day our aim is to do well in Championship football. We were beaten today and we'll learn from it. They learned from when we defeated them in Newry a couple of weeks ago, and hopefully we'll take that defeat on board in five weeks' time."

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