Football League: Donegal edge out Ulster rivals Armagh

Michael Murphy fires home Donegal's goal against Armagh in Ballybofey
Michael Murphy fires home Donegal's goal against Armagh in Ballybofey

Donegal boosted their Division Two promotion hopes with a 1-9 to 0-11 victory over Armagh in a tight tussle at a windswept Ballybofey.

An ill-tempered first half saw Donegal forward Jason McGee and Armagh's James Morgan sent-off on 18 minutes.

Michael Murphy came on as a substitute and duly scored the only goal to leave Donegal 1-4 to 0-3 ahead at the break.

Donegal moved four points clear before Armagh fought back in the dying minutes but they fell narrowly short.

Armagh, who started the game on four points along with Donegal, enjoyed the wind advantage in the first half but they failed to make it count.

A series of niggly fouls and a stamp on Donegal's Eoghan Ban Gallagher, which referee Martin McNally failed to spot, was followed by a lengthy melee and red cards for McGee and Morgan.

Donegal's Jason McGee and Armagh's James Morgan are dismissed by referee Martin Mcnally

Armagh edged two points in front thanks to a Niall Grimley double, his second score a superb effort from the sideline.

Murphy had been brought on for his first appearance in the league campaign and he made a big impact by slotting low into the bottom corner of the net.

It was the final score of the first half and by this stage the weather had worsened, with driving rain adding to the storm conditions and leading to the goalposts swaying from side to side.

Orchard forward Rian O'Neill burst through early in the second half but he opted to take the point with a goal chance on offer.

It remained close as Grimley added another point between two long-range frees from Donegal forward Michael Langan.

Donegal forward Jamie Brennan is closed down by Armagh pair James Morgan and Charlie Vernon
Donegal forward Jamie Brennan is closed down by Armagh pair James Morgan and Charlie Vernon

Man-of-the-match Murphy tagged on two classy points to extend Donegal's advantage to four going into the final five minutes.

But this Armagh team was not finished yet and Mark Shields fired wide of goal before two points from O'Neill.

Armagh were awarded a free close in with added time almost up but Ethan Rafferty could not keep his strike down and the ball flew between posts to leave just a point in it at the final whistle.

Donegal join leaders Meath and Fermanagh, who both play on Sunday, on six points while Armagh are back in fifth place.

Division Two - Saturday
Tipperary0-12Cork 1-12
Donegal1-9 Armagh 0-11
Division Two - Sunday 14:00 BST throw-ins
MeathvKildare
FermanaghvClare