Mcgeeney’s men on rise as they reach Mckenna fi­nal

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - SPORT - BY ORLA BAN­NON

FOUR days af­ter tak­ing out All-ire­land semi-fi­nal­ists Mon­aghan, Ar­magh beat Ul­ster cham­pi­ons Done­gal to con­tinue their up­ward curve un­der Kieran Mcgeeney and reach the Mckenna Cup fi­nal.

Af­ter be­ing level nine times with the out­go­ing Mckenna Cup hold­ers at Healy Park, a point from Rory Gru­gan in the 69th minute put Ar­magh through to Satur­day’s de­cider against Ty­rone.

Boss Mcgeeney played down the sig­nif­i­cance of beat­ing two Ul­ster heavy­weights in the one week.

“We’d un­der­stand that Done­gal and Mon­aghan wouldn’t be at full strength and they would prob­a­bly be look­ing to learn more from that game than we were in terms of the League,” said Mcgeeney (right).

“But it was still good for us. It gives us an­other game next week to see where we are and give other peo­ple game time.”

Mcgeeney, who was play­ing for Ar­magh when they last won the Mckenna Cup in

1994, fielded a much stronger line-up.

His team played with a fo­cus lack­ing in

Done­gal, who were very much look­ing down the road to­wards the League and the Cham­pi­onship.

They were strangely off-key but De­clan Bon­ner in­sisted Done­gal got ev­ery­thing they wanted out of the com­pe­ti­tion.

“Ar­magh put a strong team out there and from our point of view us­ing those young lads was the plan and it def­i­nitely served a pur­pose. “Ev­ery­thing we wanted to do in terms of the Mckenna Cup I think we got out of it in terms of prepa­ra­tion for the League.

“We won the first three games re­ally at ease but we knew to­day would be a good test and a good chal­lenge and we got that. “It’s ideal prepa­ra­tion for us as we head on to Clare in two weeks’ time.

“It would have been nice to win the match, yeah, but I thought the first half we just weren’t at it. In the sec­ond half I thought we con­trolled the match and it was a re­ally good work­out.”

Done­gal were ca­sual in pos­ses­sion and paid the price as Ar­magh came from three points down to lead 0-9 to 1-5 at the break, Ja­son Mcgee palm­ing home the Done­gal goal af­ter 23 min­utes. Jamie Bren­nan aside, Done­gal lacked pen­e­tra­tion while Gru­gan, Ste­fan Camp­bell and Je­mar Hall scored 0-8 be­tween them for Ar­magh.

IT’S ROR EMO­TION Ar­magh’s Rory Gru­gan keeps the ball ahead of Bren­dan Mc­cole and Conor Mor­ri­son of Done­gal

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