Armagh sealed a 2-10 to 1-09 victory over Donegal with an injury time Oisin McConville penalty in their Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park today. It was a closely fought contest with the sides drawing level seven times during the game but Donegal will see this as a missed opportunity as Armagh were wasteful in front of goal, kicking 20 wides in all.
It took the sides six minutes to register the first score of the match, with Christy Toye of Donegal knocking the ball over. Armagh took the lead through McConville and Paul McGrane but Donegal levelled soon after through Adrian Sweeney.
On fourteen minutes McConville stepped up to convert another free. His kicking was poor overall though, and Armagh would finish the half with 11 wides. That free would be his last score until the 27th minute when Brendan Devenney pointed from play.
As the break drew closer Toye scored an excellent goal after an incisive short passing movement left the Armagh defence in tatters. Diarmuid Marsden, however, pointed before the whistle blew to leave the score at 1-04 to 0-04.
The second half opened with Donegal still very much in the driving seat. Sweeney pointed from a free, only to see his brother sent off at the other end for a second yellow card having pulled down McConville, who converted the resulting free. However, Donegal, despite having lost a man, were still fighting and battling for every ball while Armagh looked rattled and continued to miss eminently kickable points. The Orchard men knocked over five wides before, 12 minutes into the half Stephen McDonnell pointed well for Armagh.
McConville pointed again for Armagh to once again get them within a goal of Donegal and the match was level after a long ball in McDonnell picked it up, collected easily despite the close attentions of lone defender Niall McCready and drove it past Tony Blake in the Donegal goal.
The sides traded points for the last ten minutes of the match with Sweeney and Devenney pointing for Donegal and McConville, substitute Paddy McKeever and Philip Loughran keeping Armagh just ahead.
14-man Donegal's character showed through and they continued to battle for every ball. They still had a chance to tie the game until the fifth minute of injury time when McKeever found himself one on one with Tony Blake in the Donegal goal and was fouled. A penalty was awarded and McConville stepped up and drove his shot to the back of the net to ensure his side advance to meet Tyrone in the all-Ulster decider.
Filed by Barry J Whyte