Donegal cantered past Armagh with an 11-point victory to send a message out to their Ulster under-20 title challengers.
Donegal's goal on the cusp of half-time put the result virtually to bed to set-up an exciting Ulster quarter-final against rivals Tyrone.
Played in Ballybofey Donegal held all the aces as after Armagh’s bright but brief start they took control of the game.
From the edge of the square, Eoin Dowling slipped his shot under keeper Shea Magill after Padraig Gettigan’s perfect pass, to bag a crucial goal.
Only moments earlier both sides could have netted. James McCormack fisted across goal expecting a team-mate to pick up and fire into the net, but Donegal mopped up and went straight up the field where McGettigan was denied by keeper Magill from close range.
Donegal 20s triumphant in Ballybofey this evening pic.twitter.com/LHemPfK1SB— Official Donegal GAA (@officialdonegal) July 2, 2021
Donegal were diligent in defence and shrewd in attack whereas Armagh defended in numbers and changed tack long after the game was gone.
Donegal led 1-08 to 0-03 at the break but it was Armagh's Mark McKeever and McCormack who were first to score. And with ten minutes left the sides were level as McKeever converted his second free and McGettigan and Ryan McFadden lofted over from distance.
McFadden edged Donegal into the lead for the first time with the last kick of the quarter and it was in the second quarter the Tir Chonaill seized control outscoring the Orchard 1-04 to 0-01, with Shane O’Donnell, McGettigan and McFadden picking some beautiful points, while McCormack’s reply displayed a touch of class too.
Donegal led by eight points at the break and at no point did they look like losing their grip.
Instead, Dowling, captain Rory O’Donnell and Johnny McGroody extended Donegal’s lead at the second quarter to 1-13 to 0-06. Armagh’s response displayed spirit but little cohesion as Donegal defended brilliantly with Caolan McColgan excellent at cornerback.
In truth Donegal were much the better side and full value for their victory.
Donegal: Daithi Roberts, Caolan McColgan (0-01), Jamie Grant, Jack Gallagher, Kieran Tobin, Paul O’Hare, Richard O’Rourke (0-01), Rory O’Donnell (0-01), Ryan McFadden (0-02), Ronan Frain, Shane O’Donnell (0-03), Ryan McShane, Eoin Dowling (1-03), Padraig McGettigan (0-05), Johnny McGroody (0-1 free).
Subs used: Nathan Byrne for McBride (41’), Carlos O’Reilly for Dowling (51), Keelan Dunleavey for O’Rourke (53).
Armagh: Shea Magill, Peter McGrane, Oran McKeown, Lee Rice, Redmond French, Lennox Camara, Sean Quigley, Niall McCorry, Eoin Woods (0-01), Dara O’Callaghan, Jamie Martin (0-01), Tiarnan Kelly, Mark McKeever (0-04, 4 frees), Louis Hughes, James McCormack (0-03).
Subs used: Rory Kearney for Quigley (28), Joe Sheridan for O’Callaghan (28), Eoin Reel for Kelly (48), Aidan Harney for French (48).
Referee: Anthony Marron (Monaghan).