Lucky Jim's boys win shootout

Donegal 0-20; Armagh 0-20

(AET - Donegal win 6-5 on penalties)

The  McGuinness factor just keeps on delivering. As “Lucky Jim” led Donegal to an 11th Ulster crown you had to marvel at the man’s influence within the county; but pity luckless Armagh, who, for the second season in a row, were beaten in the provincial final after a penalty shootout at Clones on Sunday.

During the last kicks their manager Kieran McGeeney closed his eyes as if expecting the inevitable — which came at the sixth attempt when Shane McPartland's penalty was brilliantly saved by Shane Patton.

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Before that, the sides were level on half a dozen occasions with Armagh taking a one-point advantage into the half-time break.

When Stefan Campbell pushed the Orchard County four to the good coming up to the end of the third quarter, the big question was had Donegal the ability to answer as they did in previous rounds.

They chipped at the lead and when sub Paddy McBrearty shot the equalizer at 0-15 each, the grt feeling was they would see it out in extra time.

Once again it was tit for tat in the extra time periods before Donegal sub Odhran Doherty hit the game’s 10th equalizer to force penalties.

So with a Div. 2 title and now an Ulster title in the bag, how far can Tir Conall progress under McGuinness over the rest of the summer? 

One thing for sure is nobody will enjoy playing them and should his young team find their legs in Croke Park, then they could go down to the last four. After that, it depends on the luck of the draw but they can be happy that they have already surpassed national expectations.

For Armagh, there will be familiar feelings of loss and regret at not being able to get across the line in big match situations. They lost the league final to Sunday’s opponent and hadn’t a little extra to find a way past this time.

Despite no Ulster title in 16 years, they are not far away and maybe a little tinkering with the tactics and the players could get them back into big Sunday games in Croke Park.