Donegal reach Dr McKenna Cup final

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 16:02

Donegal's Barry Monaghan tussles with Armagh's Malachy Mackin at Omagh
Donegal's Barry Monaghan tussles with Armagh's Malachy Mackin at Omagh

Donegal made it through to the Dr McKenna Cup final with a 0-09 to 0-07 win over Armagh at Omagh this afternoon.

However, manager Brian McIver will be concerned at the manner in which his vastly experienced side struggled against what was essentially a second-string Armagh selection.

Donegal's victory sets up a meeting in the final against either Tyrone or Monaghan, who meet in the other semi-final on 13 February.

Armagh's youthful defence had to endure some anxious moments in the early stages, with Kevin McMenamin and Ciaran Bonner looking dangerous up front for Tir Chonaill.

McMenamin hit a couple of neat scores, with Bonner and Michael Hegarty also on target.

But the loss of Bonner through injury after ten minutes robbed Donegal of perhaps their most dangerous attacker, and thereafter, they appeared to lack incisiveness.

Armagh appeared to be in deep trouble as the trailed 0-04 to 0-00 after 22 minutes, but then their challenge suddenly caught fire.

Gareth Swift, Kieran Toner and Malachy Mackin seized a grip of the midfield area, and they swept forward in waves.

Three Peadar Toal points, two of them wonderful long range efforts from play, brought them to within a point, and stoppage time overs from Swift and Kevin O'Rourke sent them in at the break with a 0-05 to 0-04 lead.

Brendan Devenney and McMenamin had Donegal back in front within three minutes of the restart, but by the beginning of the final quarter they were clinging on to a slender one-point lead.

And the loss of midfielder Kevin Cassidy, sent off for a second yellow card, presented them with an even stiffer challenge.

McIver had already introduced two more of his experienced campaigners, Brian Roper and Adrian Sweeney, but their arrival did little to add a much-needed spark to the Donegal attacking effort.

Armagh had also allowed their offensive momentum to wane. A single point was all they had to show for more than half an hour of effort, and substitute Barry McKevitt's late score was not enough to rescue the Orchard County.

Donegal: K McMenamin 0-04 (3f), B Devenney 0-02 (2f), M Hegarty, B Roper, C Bonner 0-01 each. Armagh: P Toal 0-03 (1f), K O'Rourke 0-01 (f), S Forker, B McKevitt, G Swift 0-01 each.

Armagh: C McKinney; G McCreesh, E McNulty, P McCreesh; JP Donnelly, T McClelland, P Duffy; G Swift, K Toner; P Toal, M Mackin, M Ferris; K O'Rourke, B Donaghy, S Forker.

Subs used: S Toner for Duffy, B McKevitt for Swift, N McSherry for Donnelly, J O'Neill for Mackin.

Donegal: C Sharkey; P Campbell, N McGee, F McGlynn; T Donoghue, B Monaghan, E McGee; J Friel, K Cassidy; C Toye, M Hegarty, R Kavanagh; K McMenamin, B Devenney, C Bonner.

Subs used: L Thompson for Bonner, B Dunnion for McGlynn, B Roper for Friel, A Sweeney for Thompson, R Bradley for Devenney.

Referee: B Toland (Derry).