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National Football Division One North: Donegal and Armagh finishes deadlocked

By Paul Shaughnessy

Armagh 1-16 - 1-16 Donegal

A second half comeback from Donegal saw them draw with Armagh in the Athletic Grounds. Donegal will now advance to the Division one league semi-final and will be delighted with their second half performance given they were without the services of Michael Murphy, Neil McGee, Jamie Brennan and Oisin Gallen. Something that will worry Armagh is once again they were in a winning position and failed to push on.

Armagh hit the ground running early on winning a close range free directly form the throw in and Rory Grugan nailed the resulting free. Armagh pushed off the Donegal kickout. Donegal worked the ball through the hands where Peadar Mogan off loaded the ball to Paddy McBrearty who powered past the oppositions defence and blasted the ball over the bar. The orchard county were beginning to go direct and registered two great team scores courtesy of Stefan Campbell and James Morgan.

Declan Bonnar's side were building excellently from the back and through a quick transition Eoghan Ban Gallagher was one on one with Blaine Hughes but the lively corner back drove the ball wide.

Kieran McGeeney's side were putting excellent pressure on the ball and in turn converted the next two points from Stefan Campbell who was hitting his purple patch which had Armagh 0-05 - 0-01 ahead at the waterbreak.

Straight after the waterbreak Rory Grugan made no mistake from a placed ball to have Armagh five points ahead. Donegal got on the scoreboard for the first time in 18 minutes where Ryan McHugh got on the end of a well worked move which was backed up by a Michael Langan point and a Niall O'Donnell free which made it a two point game on 25 minutes.

Armagh were beginning to find their groove and Oisin O'Neill hit an outrageous point on 38 minutes from 55 metres to have them 0-10 - 0-6 in front at the break. For the first time in 448 days Armagh welcomed back their home supporters and were treated to a first half of terrific attacking play. Donegal would be left frustrated with their shot selection in the opening period.

Straight after the interval Ciaran O'Hanlon tapped over a neat point for the newly promoted side. Similiar to his goal last weekend Michael Langan sprinted past the Armagh defence and blasted the ball to the roof of net leaving the score at 1-06 - 0-11.

Blaine Hughes drove the resulting kickout long towards Rian O'Neill who flicked the ball to former AFL star Ross McQuillan who drove down left half forward channel worked his way towards goal and hand passed ball over to make it a one score game. McQuillan ended up injuring himself in the process and was forced off due to injury.

Oisin O'Neill and Conor O'Donnell then traded scores. Kilcar sharpshooter Paddy McBrearty was proving his accuracy on target with two points in a row to have Donegal trailing 1-09 - 0-14 at the final waterbreak.

The lively Stefan Campbell was a handful all day long for the Tir Chonaill men and Campbell took them on jinking in an out finishing off a fine score. McBrearty and super-sub Conor O'Donnell narrowed the gap to the bare minimum.

The home side gained primary possesion around the middle third and found Campbell inside who played the ball across to Former Hogan Cup winner Tiernan Kelly who slotted the ball past Shaun Patton to have Armagh 1-15 - 1-11 ahead. Quickly after his goal Tiernan Kelly received a yellow card for a high challenge on Eoin McHugh from Maurice Deegan. Caolan Ward replied with a fisted point. Creg McCabe then played a spectacular pass to Jemar Hall who notched over a point to have his side leading by five points on 62 minutes.

Donegal showed huge grit and determination landing the next five points with Paddy McBrearty, Ciaran Thompson and Niall O'Donnell off the mark. With Niall O'Donnell leveling matters on 71 minutes and both sides settling for a draw.

Donegal now look forward to a Division one league semi-final. While Armagh head for a Division one league semi-final.

Scorers for Armagh: Stefan Campbell 0-4, Tiernan Kelly 1-1, Oisin O’Neill 0-3, Rory Grugan 0-3 (3fs), James Morgan, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Jemar Hall, Ross McQuillan, Rian O’Neill (f) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Donegal: Paddy McBrearty 0-8, (3fs), Michael Langan 1-1,Niall O'Donnell (0-2, 0-1 free) Conor O’Donnell 0-2, Ryan McHugh, Ciaran Thompson, Caolan Ward,.

ARMAGH: Blaine Hughes, Ross Finn, James Morgan, Greg McCabe, Connaire Mackin, Aaron McKay, Ciaran O’Hanlon, Niall Grimley, Jarlath Óg Burns, Jemar Hall, Rian O’Neill, Ross McQuillan, Rory Grugan, Oisin O’Neill, Stefan Campbell.

Subs: Conor Turbitt for Morgan (HT), Tiernan Kelly for McQuillan (40 mins), Paul Hughes for Finn (64 mins), Andrew Murnin for Burns (70+4 mins), Jack Grugan for O O’Neill (70+5 mins).

DONEGAL: Shaun Patton, Eoin McHugh, Stephen McMenamin, Brendan McCole, Ryan McHugh, Paul Brennan, Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Hugh McFadden, Caolan McGonagle, Ciaran Thompson, Peadar Mogan, Michael Langan, Paddy McBrearty, Eoghan McGettigan, Niall O’Donnell.

Subs: Odhran MacNiallais for Paul Brennan, Conor O’Donnell for McGettigan (both 40 mins), Caolan Ward for Eoin McHugh (58 mins), Jason McGee for McFadden (60 mins), Ethan O’Donnell for Thompson (70 mins).

REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Man of the match: Paddy McBrearty

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