After eliminating Tyrone in a tough Championship opener, Donegal return to action against Armagh. The Orchard county overcame Derry in a 70-minute duel in their opening game. The winner of this one advances to the final against Cavan or Down.
The Ulster Championship is undoubtedly the most competitive of the four pronvincials. So, when Donegal were drawn against Tyrone for their opener, the rest of Ulster would have rejoiced in being guaranteed to lose a big team straight away. Of course, Donegal were the ones to advance but they still have work to do to be crowned Ulster Champions.
Meanwhile, Armagh have struggled to play to their potential in recent Championships. Having won promotion to Division 1, they’re under pressure to compete with the biggest teams. So, this fixture will be a good test of their credentials.
Donegal were impressive against Tyrone. In particular, Ciarán Thompson and Michael Langan were standout performers. The latter was the Donegal goalscorer. On 25 minutes, he made a direct run forward, getting the ball from Peadar Morgan and holding off challenges before rifling the ball past Niall Morgan in the Tyrone goal.
Donegal only had 5 scorers in the game, Langan notching 1-12 of their total. Absentees from the scoresheet included Michael Murphy, Ryan McHugh, Niall O’Donnell, and Paddy McBrearty who was kept in reserve. If Donegal can add these names to their list of scorers, it will take a mammoth challenge to beat them.
Meanwhile, Armagh led for the entirety of their game against Derry but had to dig deep to see off the oakleafers.
Rian O’Neill kicked four frees that went a long way in Armagh’s favour. But, they allowed Derry to kick seven dead balls that helped them get back in the game. Kieran McGeeney will be sure to make sure his side tidy up their discipline as such fouling could cost them this game.
Leading 0-11 to 0-5 at the interval, McGeeney’s men allowed Derry back into the game in the second half. Jamie Clarke’s black card in the 51st minute only added to their self-inflicted struggles. Despite Derry coming back to make the game a closely contested one, Armagh held on. But, they will know that Donegal would put the game beyond them if they take their foot off the gas in such a way again.
Armagh haven’t won an Ulster title since 2008. With the absence of a back door this year they have to set their sights on ending that drought. Meanwhile, Donegal are going for their third Ulster final in a row. With Monaghan losing on the other side of the draw, Declan Bonner knows it is his to lose now.
Donegal are 2/7 favourites to advance. Otherwise, Paddy Power have Armagh at 7/2 to cause an upset while a draw is 9/1.
The game is live on Sky Sports Mix.
Prediction: Donegal. Armagh are a good side but even if they show up on Saturday Donegal will find a way to win. The north-westerners are just further along in their development than the Orchard men.
This will be their 28thth championship clash, with Armagh winning fifteen to Donegal’s nine and three draws from the previous 27 contests. Both have one win behind them in the Ul ster championship: Donegal beat Tyrone by two points while Armagh had the same amount to spare over Derry in their quarter-final.
Armagh (Ulster SFC v Donegal): Blaine Hughes; Paddy Burns, Ryan Kennedy, James Morgan; Conor O’Neill, Aidan Forker, Mark Shields; Oisin O’Neill, Stephen Sheridan; Rory Grugan, Callum Cumiskey, Stefan Campbell; Jamie Clarke, Rian O’Neill, Niall Grimley.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP CLASHES
2015: Donegal 2-11 Armagh 0-8 (Ulster quarter-final)
2014: Donegal 1-12 Armagh 1-11 (All-Ireland quarter-final)
2010: Armagh 2-14 Donegal 0-11 (All-Ireland qualifier)
2007: Donegal 1-9 Armagh 1-8 (Ulster quarter-final)
2006: Armagh 1-9 Donegal 0-9 (Ulster final)
Facts to know
This will be their first championship meeting since 2015 when Donegal won an Ulster quar ter-final by nine points.
Donegal are bidding to reach the final for the ninth time in ten seasons. The only year they missed out was 2017.
Armagh were last in the final in 2008.
Armagh team – Blaine Hughes, Paddy Burns, Ryan Kennedy, James Morgan, Conor O’Neil, Aidan Forker, Mark Shields, Oisin O’Neill, Stephen Sheridan, Rory Grugan, Callum Cumiskey, Stefan Campbell, Jamie Clarke, Rian O’Neill, Niall Grimley
Donegal – TBC
Ulster Football Semi-Final: Donegal vs Armagh, Saturday, 14th November, 13:15 (Kingspan Breffni Park).
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 10, 2020