Rian O'Neill stars as Armagh outclass Donegal

O'Neill kicked 1-7 of Armagh's 3-17 haul 
Rian O'Neill stars as Armagh outclass Donegal

Digital Desk Staff

One of the quickest ever goals in Championship football came after nine seconds here, when Armagh’s Rian O’Neill caught the throw-up and let fly with a delivery into the square.

Rory Grugan – no man’s idea of a colossus, caught it clean and lashed it to the net, setting this game on fire instantly.

One of the big questions Armagh had to answer was how they would deal with Ethan Rafferty being forced to go long with his kickouts. And it wasn’t great for him, giving up four in the first half alone.

But it was Shaun Patton’s own kickouts that brought catastrophe. After losing two kickouts in the middle of the pitch, resulting in points for a Rian O’Neill free and Jarlath Óg Burns, he wanted to go short.

He clipped one to Odhran McFadden-Ferry but Jason Duffy was asl;ive to it and handpassed to Stefan Campbell. His point-blank range shot was scrambled off the line by Caolan Ward and O’Neill converted the resulting ’45 to level the scores, 1-6 to 0-9.

Undeterred, Patton tried the next one short to Brendan McCole but they made a mess of it. O’Neill and Grugan combined to ship it to Aidan Nugent who was taken down by a desperate Patton.

Referee Brendan Cawley gave Patton a black card and Armagh the penalty. Rian O’Neill crashed it into the corner beyond stand-in goalkeeper Caolan McGonagle They quickly added two more from Grugan and Jason Duffy and went in at the break 2-8 to 0-10 up.

As much as Donegal looked like they were up for the fight, they never showed up for the second half as they were outscored by 1-9 to 0-6.

Even when Donegal started winning two Armagh kickouts in a row, the final goal came as the ultimate coffin nail. Jarlath Óg Burns made a relieving catch from a Rafferty kickout and it was worked through O’Neill and Ben Crealey to put midfielder Stephen Sheridan clear to clip home at the near post and leave them in the hat for the All-Ireland quarter-final.

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