ARMAGH booked their place in a Nicky Rackard Cup Final showdown with Roscommon following yesterday’s convinicing victory over Donegal at The Athletic Grounds.
The Orchard side never looked in trouble even after Donegal’s Ronan McDermott closed the gap to four points with his goal midway through the second half.
Armagh led by six points at half-time following Eoin McGuinness’ 11th minute goal.
Up to that point there was little to separate the sides as Nathan Curry, Conor Devlin and John Corvan had edged Armagh ahead with Ciaran Mathewson and Enda McDermott replying for Donegal.
Armagh were physically stronger throughout the pitch and they needed to be in what was a robust semi-final. Ryan Gaffney was deadly accurate from the dead-ball and he struck five frees before converting three 65’ in a row during the second half.
Sylvester McConnell’s Armagh pulled away with points from McGuinness, Ryan Gaffney, Conor Corvan and Martin Moan but Mathewson’s free-taking kept Donegal in the contest as the Orchard County led 1-09 to 0-06 at half-time.
Again the free-taking abilities of Armagh’s Gaffney and Donegal’s Mathewson dominated a dogged second half, but Ronan McDermott’s 45th minute goal was quickly followed up with a point, which closed the gap to four points.
But Armagh quickly replied to secure their place in Croke Park on Saturday, June 6, with scores from Gaffney, Cathal and David Carvill including a fine strike from Patrick Kelly who scored a point with his first touch.
Armagh: S Doherty, S Renaghan, C Clifford, C McKee, K McKernan, N Curry, C Devlin, J Corvan, S Gaffney, J Corvan, S Gaffney, R Gaffney, C Carvill, D Coulter, M Moan, E McGuinness and C Corvan.
Subs: A McGuinness for S Gaffney 52’, D Carvill for Coulter 52’, O Curry for McKee 60’, R Conway for C Devlin 63’, P Kelly for E McGuinness 68’.
Scorers: R Gaffney (0-8, 3 65’), E McGuinness (1-1) C Corvan (0-2), C Corvan (0-2) N Curry, S Gaffney, M Moan, C Devlin, D Carvill and P Kelly (0-1 each).
Donegal: D Laverty, J O’Loughlin, J Donnelly, M Callaghan, C McDermott, J Boyle, N Cleary, D Cullen, P Sheridan, C Mathewson, S McVeigh, E McDermott, K Campbell, R McDermott and B Lafferty.
Subs: L Henderson for Campbell 3’, C Kilgannon for Callaghan 36’.
Scorers: C Mathewson (0-7, 5 frees, 65’), R McDermott (1-2), D Cullen, P Sheridan and E McDermott (0-1 each).