Dominant Donegal brush aside Armagh

Donegal's 'Michael Murphy  tackled by Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Tony Kernan
Donegal's 'Michael Murphy tackled by Armagh's Charlie Vernon and Tony Kernan

Donegal cruised to a 2-11 to 0-8 victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds.

Rory Gallagher’s side led 1-9 to 0-2 at half time, Paddy McBrearty’s third minute goal setting the tone for a clinical performance.

Both these teams are back in action on Saturday week.

Donegal will continue their quest for a fourth Anglo-Celt Cup in five years when they meet Derry in a provincial semi-final at Clones, while Armagh are heading for last chance saloon.

Kieran McGeeney’s side never managed to lay a glove on their opponents and will need to regroup if they’re to get anything through the Qualifying route which begins at home against Meath.

“It was a good first half performance. We started the game really well,” said Gallagher.

“The goal gave us a great platform and it probably shocked Armagh a wee bit.

“I’m really pleased with how we played in that first half. I think the heat took it out of us and the second half was played at a more pedestrian pace.

“The lads played really, really well. Tactics get over-hyped, it’s about good players playing well and thankfully we think we have a lot of quality players in the side and they produced it again today.”

McBrearty got the Tír Conaill men off to a dream start when he fielded a long Neil Gallagher pass after just three minutes and side-footed home.

Gallagher immediately added a point after a mix-up in the Armagh defence.

Armagh struggled to find any fluency in attack and frequently lost possession inside Donegal’s 45 metre line.

Jamie Clarke tried to get the home side going with a purposeful run two minutes after the restart and hit the bottom of the post.

Ciaran McKeever tagged on a rare point for Armagh but Donegal got their second half up and running with a Marty O’Reilly goal in the 44th minute.

Donegal slowed the game down. Armagh picked up scores in a row through Ethan Rafferty and Tony Kernan frees and a James Morgan point.

Sub Ciaran O’Hanlon also forced a great save from Paul Durcan.

Aaron Findon was black carded in the closing stages as Armagh’s frustration boiled over.

Odhran MacNiallais kicked Donegal’s only second-half point from play in injury time.

“I was a disappointing. We had a very poor first half and probably did everything we weren’t supposed to do,” said Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney.

“We were sloppy, giving the ball away around the 50 but we played a little better in the second half, created a couple of goal chances but didn’t take them.

“We could have dragged ourselves into the game a little bit but we were beaten by the better team on the day.”