Donegal seal three-point win over Armagh

Donegal 0-13 Armagh 0-10, Ballybofey

Donegal 0-13 Armagh 0-10, Ballybofey

A gutsy last 20 minutes helped Donegal keep hold of their Division 1 status for next season and send Ulster rivals Armagh crashing down to Division 2.

Donegal reeled off the last six points in Ballybofey to turn this closely-fought find round match on its head.

Jim McGuinness' side looked in serious trouble when they trailed by 0-10 to 0-7 after 51 minutes but they showed a lot of character in the final quarter to ensure they retained their top flight place.

Donegal were guilty of some poor wides and wasted a lot of possession, yet despite the absence of injured skipper Michael Murphy they still had eight different players on the scoresheet.

Armagh included Crossmaglen duo Jamie Clarke and Aaron Kernan in the starting line-up but they went meekly down to Division 2.

Paddy O'Rourke's charges had led for most of the game but crumbled in the last quarter as Donegal drove forward with Rory Kavanagh influential.

Clarke was held scoreless by Karl Lacey and the entire Armagh forward-line only scored one point from play between them. They were hugely reliant on free-taker Michael Stevenson, who converted seven placed balls.

Paddy McBrearty's AFL training camp exploits last week seemed to take its toll. He was brought on and taken off after barely featuring, except for one goal chance which Philip McEvoy saved with his legs.

The conditions were difficult and it was far from a classic, with both sides guilty of some loose approach play and disappointing finishing from a variety of angles.

However, the character shown by Donegal will give their manager McGuinness great encouragement after a difficult league campaign, even if this performance was of the patchy kind.

Donegal owned the ball for most of the second half but were wasteful in possession for almost the whole game.

Colm McFadden hit a couple of frees wide that he would normally convert with his eyes closed and they were turned over cheaply too many times.

Yet, somehow, they stirred into life in the all-important last quarter and McFadden finished strongly with a number of important scores.

DONEGAL: P Durcan, F McGlynn (0-1), E McGee, Declan Walsh, A Thompson, K Lacey, L McLoone (0-1), D McLaughlin, N Gallagher, M McHugh (0-1), R Bradley, R Kavanagh (0-2), D Walsh, C McFadden (0-5, 0-2f), M McElhinney (0-1).

Subs used: D Molloy (0-1) for McLaughlin (28 mins), P McBrearty for McElhinney (31), M O'Reilly for McGee (59), S Griffin for McBrearty (68), A Hanlon (0-1) for McLoone (70).

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, 0-7f), C Rafferty, K Dyas

Subs used: T Kernan for P Duffy (half-time), M O'Rourke for Mallon (45 mins), J Lavery for Moriarty (59), J Kingham for T Kernan (69).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).

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