Donegal defeat hurlers in league final

Armagh 0-19 Donegal 1-18

The Armagh hurlers suffered their first defeat of 2020, and it was Donegal’s early goal that proved the difference between the sides in the end.

The game was barely 60 seconds old when Donegal rattled the net for the only goal of the contest, and the Tir Chonaill men added two points to open up a five point gap before Armagh got off the mark.

Six minutes had passed when Armagh opened their account with Dean Gaffney striking a brace (1 free). Nathan Curry tagged on another for Armagh after good work from Paddy McBride to cut the margin to two.

Donegal saw their next two points cancelled out by two super scores from Curry and wing half back Oisin Keenan before Donegal pushed on, knocking over the next four points to lead by six, 1-8 to 0-5.

Curry and Gaffney pulled two back with pointed frees but Donegal responded with two of their own to retain their six point lead heading into the half time break, the score board reading Donegal 1-10 Armagh 0-7.

Donegal opened the scoring for the second half through the reliable Declan Coulter before Armagh began to creep back into contention.

Dean Gaffney split the posts on two occasions (both frees) while Aaron Fox also bombed forward to hit a great score.

Coulter and Gaffney exchanged points from dead ball efforts while Nathan Curry struck two points to bring the deficit back to two.

Danny Magee grabbed his first of the afternoon on the 17th minute to bring his side back to within one, but they just couldn’t get that levelling score.

The free takers once again traded scores as Curry did likewise with Donegal’s go to man, and former Armagh star, Declan Coulter.

Two more Dean Gaffney points were matched by the opposition and time ran out on Armagh’s chances, with Donegal claiming a two point win, 0-19 to 1-18.

Armagh showed serious determination to drag themselves back into the contest but unfortunately just couldn’t get the levelling score that may have changed the outcome of the result.

All in all, the league has been a great learning curve for this Armagh side, and although they didn’t get the end they deserved, they can now push on for the Nicky Rackard Cup which begins in May.

They will once again have to cross paths with Donegal while Longford and Leitrim make up their group of four and Armagh will now have the bigger picture in mind as they push on for a spot in the Nicky Rackard Cup Final once again.

Armagh: Fintan Woods, Ciaran Clifford, Artie McGuinness, Connor Devlin, Oisin Keenan (0-1), Aaron Fox (0-1), Kieran McKernan, Paddy McBride, Tiarnan Nevin, Dean Gaffney (0-10), Odhran Curry, Ryan Gaffney, Eoin McGuinness, Nathan Curry (0-6), Danny Magee (0-1). Subs: Shaun Toal for C. Devlin, Simon Doherty for F. Woods, Mark McClatchey for E. McGuinness.