Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Donegal's experience gets them to the All-Ireland semis

Key role: Donegal's Michael Murphy, pictured being held back by Andy Mallon, delivered for his side
Key role: Donegal's Michael Murphy, pictured being held back by Andy Mallon, delivered for his side

Armagh would have surprised a lot of people with the way they played and they deserve enormous credit for taking a fancied Donegal side right to the wire. Paul Grimley's side played some superb football and when they got that goal in the closing stages a shock looked to be on the cards.

That's when Donegal's big match experience came to the fore as they didn't panic.

They had been in those kind of situations so many times over the past few years and that's what stood to them.

They know what it takes to get over the line while apart from the Crossmaglen contingent Armagh's players hadn't been in that situation before.

Mickey Murphy has so often been their talisman and he was there when it mattered most in the end as was Frank McGlynn who I thought had a superb game throughout and played a key part in both their equaliser as well as their winning point.

Donegal should have been out of sight by that stage but they hit a number of bad wides and that is something they will have to pay a lot of attention to over the next few weeks because that won't be near good enough against Dublin.

Looking back on their championship run Armagh will take a lot of positives from it.

They were poor in both the McKenna Cup and the National League but Paul Grimley and Kieran McGeeney have taken them to the last eight of the championship and they have plenty to look forward to next year.

They found a style of play that suited them as well as unearthing a number of new players and there is no doubt they will be targeting the Ulster championship next season.

Donegal on the other hand are in the ideal place ahead of the semi-final with Dublin. They will be written off in most quarters and that will suit Jimmy McGuinness.

They have plenty to work on before that game but they will be well prepared and will be Dublin's biggest test yet.

Monaghan will be disappointed that a good season for them ended the way that it did.

At 0-3 each they were doing brilliantly and their game plan was working well, but the injury to Colin Walshe was crucial.

Dublin's two goals came from that side and once those went in it was effectively game over as Monaghan were never going to haul that back.

Dublin do what all good sides do – they were ruthless when they got on top of them.

It's difficult to know where Monaghan go from here. They haven't kicked on from last season although the fact they will be in division one of the National League next year will be a help for them. However, Armagh and Monaghan are heading in opposite directions at the moment.

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