Louise Gunn reports from Brewster Park
DONEGAL were in breathtaking form as they put Armagh to the sword by 28 points in Brewster Park, Enniskillen, to clinch back-to-back TG4 Ulster senior titles.
Their full-forward line combined for 7-11 of their total with Yvonne Bonner finishing with 3-6, all from play. Geraldine McLaughlin scored 3-3 and 1-2 came from Eilish Ward.
All six Donegal forwards got on the scoresheet along with their two midfielders in what was a near faultless display from Maxi Curran and Damien Devaney’s side.
The first half was a pulsating affair that yielded six goals and 20 points in end-to-end action.
There was little between them for most of the opening half and they were actually level in the 21st minute 1-7 to 2-4.
Donegal led 1-6 to 0-3 after the first quarter, Bonner with an early goal in the fourth minute to put them in front 1-1 to 0-1 after Aimee Mackin, who was well marshalled throughout, had opened the scoring with a point from a free in the first minute.
Bonner hit 1-4 of that first 1-6 for the Tir Chonaill side but it looked like their opening quarter’s hard work had come undone.
First, Kelly Mallon, punished Donegal for a mistake in their own half when goalkeeper Roisin McCafferty was caught well out of position, finishing to the back of the net in the 18th minute.
This before Aimee Mackin finished superbly from the penalty spot in the 21st minute after Mallon was brought down.
That levelled the game but thereafter it became one-way traffic as Donegal upped the ante and show their worth.
McLaughlin’s 22nd-minute point was crucial and from there until the half-time whistle they outscored their opponents 3-5 to 0-3 while also having Therese McCafferty in the sin bin.
McLaughlin followed up her point with a goal after a quickly taken sideline ball but it was two goals in the space of a minute in injury time that gave Armagh an insurmountable half-time deficit.
First Eilish Ward, after Donegal overturned an Armagh kickout, fired home to make it 3-11 to 2-7 and then almost immediately, Niamh Hegarty pounced on a ball that had come back off the post from a Bonner effort, to stretch the Donegal lead to 10 points — 4-11 to 2-7 and the champions went in with a 4-13 to 2-7 half-time advantage.
Donegal added an unanswered 1-4 after the resumption, Karen Guthrie with a 34th-minute goal while it was the 44th minute before Armagh registered their first score of the half through a Caroline O’Hanlon point.
Bonner hit her second major in the 48th minute, after McCafferty had denied Mackin from the penalty spot minutes earlier.
As the game entered injury time, a well struck O’Hanlon penalty had slightly reduced the deficit back to 7-19 to 3-8 but in almost 10 minutes of injury time — with the stop clock in force —McLaughlin completed her hat-trick as they finished the game with 12 players with Emer Gallagher, McLaughlin and Katy Herron picking up yellow cards in separate incidents.
Blaithin Mackin scored Armagh’s fourth goal in the 66th minute and player of the match Bonner wrapped up an historic day for the Tir Chonaill side with her hat-trick complete with the last action of the game.
Scorers for Donegal: Y Bonner 3-6, G McLaughlin 3-4 (0-1f), K Herron 0-4, N Hegarty 1-1, K Guthrie 1-1, E Ward 1-2, SJ McDonald 0-2, A McDonnell 0-1
Scorers for Armagh: C O’Hanlon 1-3, (1-0 pen), A Mackin 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), B Mackin (1-1), K Mallon 1-1, A McCoy 0-1
Donegal: R McCafferty; T Doherty, N McLaughlin, E Gallagher; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, D Foley; K Herron, A McDonnell; K Guthrie, N Hegarty, SJ McDonald; G McLaughlin, Y Bonnar, E Ward. Subs: R Friel for N Hegarty (46), N Carr for D Foley (48), B Gallagher for E Ward (49), K McKinney for T Doherty (50), B McLaughlin for SJ McDonald (62)
Armagh: C O’Hare; S Marley, C Morgan, S Reel; M Tennyson, T Grimes, B Mackin; C McCambridge, C O’Hanlon, M Moriarity, F McKenna; L McConville; A Mackin, A McCoy, K Mallon. Subs: M Sheridan for S Reel (39), M McGuinness for F McKenna (44), N Reel for A Mackin (52), S Grey for S Marley (60), N Murphy for K Mallon (62)
Referee: Brian McCallion (Tyrone)
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