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Second half surge from Donegal sees them qualify for McKenna Cup final at Armagh's expense

Donegal 0-20 Armagh 1-10

Patrick McBrearty of Donegal in action against Joe McIlroy of Armagh during the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final match between Donegal and Armagh at Celtic Park in Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Patrick McBrearty of Donegal in action against Joe McIlroy of Armagh during the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final match between Donegal and Armagh at Celtic Park in Derry. Photo by Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Donegal will travel to Killarney for their opening league fixture on the back of a big win over Armagh which booked a place against Tyrone in the Dr McKenna Cup final tonight. The sides were level at 0-9 to 1-6 at half-time, but Donegal dominated after the break.

Before that, they start the Allianz League campaign away to Kerry next Sunday and new boss Declan Bonner has plenty of options.

Paddy McBrearty was rampant with 0-8 while powerhouse midfielder Nathan Mullins continues to impress on his arrival in the north west. Stephen McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell came off the bench and scored three points each from play in a one-sided second half.

Donegal fielded a strong line-up while Kieran McGeeney went a different route with a lot of fringe players, and 19-year-old full-forward Eamon McGeown one of the few to take his chance.

He fired over 1-2 from play in the first half, scoring from play from close range off both feet before blasting home a goal in the 14th minute to put Armagh 1-3 to 0-2 ahead.

Paddy McBrearty was the go-to man at the other end of the field for Donegal.

The Kilcar forward had bagged 0-6 by half-time, including four points from play, and linked up well in a two-man full-forward line with Marty O’Reilly.

The return to fitness of Ciaran Thompson after an injury-plagued year also is a big plus for Donegal. He teed McBrearty up for a couple of scores and also nailed one of his own before the break as Donegal started to pile on the pressure.

Armagh ‘keeper Paddy Morrison was punished for a ropey kickout with McBrearty sending the ball straight back over his head as the Division One side had a good 10-minute spell.

Nathan Mullins, who was in a powerhouse midfield with Jason McGee, also broke through a couple of tackles for a fine score.

But Armagh had points from Michael Stevenson, Stephen Sheridan to go in level at 1-6 to 0-9 at the break.

Their young players held their own in the first half but struggled to compete after the interval.

It was all Donegal in the second half with McBrearty (two), and new face Niall O’Donnell scoring to put them in control.

They streaked clear, with Mullins scoring a superb point from distance before McBrearty teed up his younger brother Stephen for a close-range score.

Armagh went 27 minutes with a point in the second half before Michael Stevenson ended a run of seven unanswered points from Donegal.

Donegal’s subs made an impact with Stephen McBrearty and Niall O’Donnell scoring six points from play between them in a one-sided second half.

Scorers - Donegal: P McBrearty 0-8 (3f), D O’Connor (1f), N O’Donnell, S McBrearty 0-3 each, N Mullins 0-2, C Thompson 0-1; Armagh: E McGeown 1-3 (1f), M Stevenson 0-3 (1 ‘45), S Sheridan, C White, O MacIomhair, E English 0-1

Donegal: MA McGinley; P Brennan, S McMenamin, C Ward; E Doherty, L McLoone, T McClenaghan; J McGee, N Mullins; EB Gallagher, C Thompson, C McGonigle; P McBrearty, M O’Reilly, D O’Connor. Subs: N O’Donnell for McClenaghan (33), C McGinley for McMenamin (HT), S McBrearty for Thompson (41), K McBrearty for McGee (56), B McCole for P McBrearty (68).

Armagh: P Morrison; J McAlinden, O Lappin, J Cosgrove; J McElroy, R Kennedy, D McKenna; A Findon, S Sheridan; R Lappin, A Duffy, C White; M Stevenson, E McGeown, O MacIomhair. Subs: R McQuillan for O Lappin (HT), R Owens for Sheridan (HT), C McGeary for McKenna (52), E English for White (52), D McQuade for R Lappin (56)

Referee: N McKenna (Monaghan).

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