Declan Coulter played a key role for his adopted county of Donegal this afternoon as they secured the Allianz League Division 3A title thanks to a 1-18 to 0-19 win over his native Armagh at Carrickmore in Tyrone.
The Orchard County prevailed when these two sides met in the round-robin stages but Donegal have gathered momentum over the course of the season and they carried that form into today’s game, bursting out of the blocks with an early goal from Gerry Gilmore, finished off after some good work by Bernard Lafferty set up the chance.
Gilmore and Joe Boyle added points to push Donegal 1-3 to no score ahead early on as the Tír Chonaill men tried to cash in on their strong wind advantage, though they also need a great save from Luke White to keep them in front.
Nathan Curry and Dean Gaffney tried to lead a fightback from Armagh but Donegal’s defence held out well and they led by six at the interval, 1-10 to 0-7.
Gaffney and Aaron Fox pointed early in the second half to shift the momentum of the tie and it seemed as if Armagh were the side in control when they got back to just one point adrift midway through the half, but Donegal held firm and late scores from Coulter – who ended the day with 0-10 – and substitute Sam Doherty saw them over the line.
The Division 2B final will also be an all-Ulster affair after Derry got the point they needed against Kildare to set up a final clash with Down next week.
Kildare manager David Herity bemoaned the stated of the field in Celtic Park after Conor Kelly’s late equaliser for the home side made it 2-16 to 3-13 at the final whistle.
Jack Sheridan took the fight to Derry in the opening half, when Kildare faced into the wind. Cormac O’Doherty goaled for Derry after six minutes but Sheridan replied with two green flags in response, and the Lilywhites held that lead until late in the first half. The sending off of centre back Ross Kelly knocked them on their heels however and the contest became all about the free-taking of O’Doherty and Sheridan.
With tensions rising in the final quarter, Odhrán McKeever and Brian Byrne traded goals before Kildare edged in front going into stoppage time through Sheridan. They couldn’t close it out, however, as a superb score from Kelly gave Derry the point they needed.
Without ever catching fire, London did enough to preserve their Division 2B status as they easily accounted for Warwickshire at McGovern Park in Ruislip. The only goal of the game came from substitute Cian Lordan as London prevailed, 1-20 to 0-5. Jack Goulding and David Nolan struck some superb points in a low-key first half that saw London go in 0-10 to 0-3 in front after playing with the wind, and Kevin McMullan’s side were able to go through the motions after half time.
Meanwhile, Sligo will go into next weekend’s Division 3B final against Leitrim as warm favourites after they extended their run of wins with a comfortable victory over Fermanagh at Irvinestown today. Goals from Kieran Prior, Rory McHugh, and Kevin Gilmartin backboned a Sligo win that saw 11 different players get on the scoresheet for the county.