ON THEY march: Luke McGlynn’s dramatic goal, two minutes from the end of a tense semi-final, fired Donegal’s minors through to the Ulster MFC final.
Donegal 1-6 Armagh 0-5
By Chris McNulty at Healy Park
Many in Healy Park were watching through the gaps in their fingers as extra time loomed.
Donegal captain McGlynn had other ideas.
Played in by his Glenfin team-mate Daniel Marley, McGlynn’s cool, calm and composed finish belied his young years. McGlynn slid low beyond Stephen McMullan, the Armagh ‘keeper, and the skipper added a free in added time to seal the deal.
Ahead by 0-4 to 0-2 at the changeover, Armagh were rocked when Cianan Campbell was given his second yellow card just two minutes into the second half.
A thumping score by corner-back Karl Magee, just three minutes later, had Donegal breathing heavily on the Armagh necks.
Five minutes from the end, Oisin Caulfield fisted over to put Donegal ahead for the first time, but it was short-lived as Luke McKeever’s free, Armagh’s first score of the second half, had the teams on an even keel before McGlynn decided the night in a flash.
Rhys Stevens’ eleventh minute score was all that was on the board by the time the first water break arrived.
The low-scoring theme continued, but Sean Ward opened Donegal’s account from distance in the 21st minute.
Until then, Donegal struggled to get shots away. One particularly promising voyage ended when Daniel Marley, fed around the back by Donal Gallagher, saw his pass inside, intended for Luke McGlynn, cut out.
Armagh reeled off three points in as many minutes, a booming effort by Fergal O’Brien opening up a three-point lead for the Orchard.
Cathal McGeever’s score cut the deficit, but Donegal were 0-4 to 0-2 in arrears at the interval. They were grateful, too, for a huge save by goalkeeper Aaron Cullen, who denied Stevens a certain goal in the 25th minute.
Donegal were unchanged from their semi-final win over Monaghan nine evenings previously, Luke Barrett keeping his faith in the same starting line-up.
Donegal had contrasting experiences in their opening games, a 4-22 to 0-8 hammering of Antrim followed by a 1-9 to 0-10 success over Monaghan on a night when Ethan Friel was red carded in the first half.
At half-time here, Donegal summoned Michael Callaghan and Gary Kelly – so influential off the bench in the win over Monaghan – in a bid to spice up their attack.
Armagh were without three of their aces from their quarter-final win over defending All-Ireland MFC winners Derry. St Eunan’s College student Brendan O’Hagan – a son of former All-Ireland winning Armagh footballer Barry – was among those to miss out.
Matthew McCaughley and Rogan McVeigh were also unavailable for Brendan Hughes’ team, but until the dismissal of Campbell they were on top. They were left, however, to rue not just the red card but their dozen wides.
The plates shifted with Donegal finding a way in the moments that followed.
Late in the contest, McGlynn took the lead to send them through.
Donegal: Aaron Cullen; Donal Gallagher, Cormac Gallagher, Karl Magee (0-1); Sean Martin, Ethan Friel, Oisin Caulfield (0-1); Sean Ward (0-1), Conor Reid; Cathal McGeever (0-1), Kevin McCormack, Conor McGinty; Daniel Marley, Paddy McElwee, Luke McGlynn (1-2, 1f). Subs: Michael Callaghan for McElwee (half-time), Gary Kelly for Reid (half-time), Cormac McColgan for McGeever (42), James Doherty for Friel (45), Karl Joseph Molloy for McGinty (60).
Armagh: Stephen McMullan; Cathal Agnew, Gareth Murphy, Emmet Magee; Callum O’Neill, Fergal O’Brien (0-1), Aidan Cassidy; Tadgh Grimley, Michael Burnett; Ethan McKenna, Aaron O’Neill, Ruairi O’Brien; Rhys Stevens (0-2), Luke McKeever (0-1f), Cianan Campbell (0-1). Subs: Bernard Cassidy for A.O’Neill (40), Tiarnan McVeigh for O’Brien (45), James Conlon for McKenna (54), Pearse Blessing for Cassidy (60).
Referee: Maggie Farrelly (Cavan).Tags: