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Nine-goal Donegal establish themselves as serious All-Ireland contenders

It’s early days yet but the Ulster champions look very, very good.

BACK-TO-BACK ULSTER CHAMPIONS Donegal were in scintillating form yesterday as they put 9-21 past Armagh to lift the coveted provincial silverware.

Yvonne Bonner On fire: Player of the Match Yvonne Bonner hit 3-6 from play. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Maxi Curran’s tenacious outfit — who bowed out of last year’s All-Ireland championship at the quarter-final stage — well and truly sent out a statement of intent in Brewster Park.

The deadly inside trio of Yvonne Bonner, Geraldine McLaughlin and Eilish Ward combined for 7-11, with both Bonner and McLaughlin notching hat-tricks, and 6-10 between them.

And while there were 28 points in the difference at the end, it must be noted that Armagh, with Aimee Mackin and Caroline O’Hanlon the big names in their ranks, are a fine side themselves.

The 9-21 to 4-8 scoreline rather reflects just how powerful the Tir Chonaill side are.

Their attacking prowess is most definitely admirable — each of the six forwards and two midfielders got on the score sheet in a near faultless display.

You can watch each of the nine goals, as captured by Jerome Quinn for the LGFA, here:

Donegal have undoubtedly established themselves as serious All-Ireland contenders of late, cementing that with yesterday’s landslide win.

Their exit to Mayo in the last eight last year was hugely disappointing, as was their failure to reach the 2018 Lidl Ladies National Football League Division 1 semi-finals after finishing runners-up last time out, but they look ready for anything that’s thrown at them through the summer.

With the TG4 All-Ireland championship restructured, Donegal will be pitted against the runners-up of the Munster final — Cork and Kerry go head-to-head on Saturday — and Tipperary in Group 1.

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Their next outing comes against the Division 2 league-winning Premier county on 21 July before facing either Cork or Kerry the following week.

As things stand, it’s unclear how the remaining groups will unfold as the other provincial deciders are yet to be played.

Armagh v Donegal - TG4 Ulster Ladies Football Senior Championship Final Action from yesterday's decider. Source: Dáire Brennan/SPORTSFILE

Reigning TG4 All-Ireland senior champions and Division 1 league holders Dublin are yet to get their championship campaign up and running, as they await the challenge of Westmeath in the Leinster showpiece on 1 July.

In Connacht, the contest is a straight showdown between Mayo and Galway, and that will be played on Sunday 24 June.

As those outcomes are known, we’ll have a clearer picture for the summer ahead and we’ll be sure to bring you an explainer of fixtures, and how the TG4 All-Ireland senior championship will all play out.

But as of now, one thing’s for sure — you can count Donegal as serious contenders for the Brendan Martin Cup.

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Breathtaking Donegal score 9-21 to secure back-to-back Ulster titles

‘The whole side of my face went numb and I couldn’t see out of my left eye so I went straight to hospital’

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Emma Duffy

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