Ulster SFC quarter-final: Armagh 0-8 2-11 Donegal

Martin O'Reilly scores Donegal's second goal against Armagh
Martin O'Reilly scores Donegal's second goal against Armagh

A Michael-Murphy inspired Donegal produced an outstanding first half to blitz Armagh and book their place in the Ulster Championship semi-final.

Paddy McBrearty's early goal helped the champions to a 1-9 to 0-2 half-time lead at the Athletic Grounds.

Marty O'Reilly added a second goal after 44 minutes to stretch Donegal's advantage further.

Murphy kicked five long-range frees as Donegal set up a semi-final tie with Derry on 27 June.

The comprehensive nature of Donegal's opening 35 minutes will have caught the attention of all their rivals in Ulster and beyond.

They delivered a masterclass in the opening half and set the tone for what was to come with McBrearty's strike after three minutes.

Isolated inside one-on-one with James Morgan, McBrearty won the high ball and turned to shoot, and while his initial shot was parried, he slid the rebound into the far bottom corner.

Neil Gallagher, switching between midfield and full-forward, slung over a fourth-minute point with Martin McElhinney and Murphy stretching their lead out to 1-3 to no score after 12 minutes.

Donegal's Paddy McGrath gets to grips with Orchard forward Jamie Clarke at the Athletic Grounds
Donegal's Paddy McGrath gets to grips with Orchard forward Jamie Clarke at the Athletic Grounds

Aaron Findon's fisted point got Armagh on the scoreboard after 13 minutes, but it was only temporary respite from Donegal's brilliance.

Odhran McNiallais scored the first of two excellent points with a curling effort before Murphy showed his class with two frees from around the 55m mark.

Donegal's defence was peerless and they didn't concede one free in a scoreable position in a most complete opening half performance.

At the other end, the scoreboard was kept busy with McBrearty's point putting the visitors 1-7 to 0-1 ahead after 25 minutes.

Armagh spilled the ball and lost possession frequently, but they were being put under massive pressure by Donegal.

The Orchard forwards saw little of the ball and the inside forwards failed to score over the 70 minutes.

Jamie Clarke was held scoreless and was bottled up every time he touched the ball.

Tony Kernan found a little room, scoring Armagh's second point in the 26th minute.

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Clarke tried to get the home side going early in the second half but hit the post with a shot.

Stefan Campbell fluffed the rebound, drilling a shot into the side netting from close range when Armagh badly needed a goal.

Ciaran McKeever tagged on a rare point for Armagh but Donegal got their second half up and running with O'Reilly's goal in the 44th minute.

He had the pace to pounce on a loose ball and rounded the goalkeeper before tucking the ball low into the far corner to put Donegal 2-9 to 0-3 ahead.

Donegal eased up and slowed the game down, and Armagh scored three points in a row through Ethan Rafferty, Tony Kernan and James Morgan.

Substitute Ciaran O'Hanlon also forced a great save from Paul Durcan but the intensity was ebbing out of the contest.

Aaron Findon was black carded in the closing stages as Armagh's frustration boiled over.

Odhran MacNiallais kicked Donegal's only second-half point from play in injury time.

Derry are next up for Donegal with Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney left to try and rebuild confidence for an assault on the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Armagh: M McNeice; F Moriarty, C Vernon, A Mallon; J Morgan (0-1), C McKeever (0-1), C Rafferty (0-1); A Findon (0-1), E Rafferty (0-1, f); T Kernan (0-3, 1f), M McKenna, A Forker; A Murnin, S Campbell J Clarke.

Subs: M Murray for McKenna (28), K Dyas for Moriarty (30), C O'Hanlon for E Rafferty (49), B Donaghy for A Forker (56), E McVerry for Murnin (67), S Harold for Findon (BC, 69)

Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, E McGee; M McHugh, K Lacey (0-1), F McGlynn; N Gallagher (0-1), O MacNiallais (0-2); C Toye, M McElhinney (0-1), R McHugh; P McBrearty (1-1), M Murphy (0-5, 4f), M O'Reilly (1-0).

Subs: A Thompson for E McGee (HT), H McFadden for McBrearty (50), D Walsh for Toye (56), G McFadden for McElhinney (65)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

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