- When – August 31, 2003
- What – All-Ireland SFC semi-final
- Who – Armagh 2-10 Donegal 1-9
- Where – Croke Park
- Whistler – Michael Monaghan (Kildare)
SAM Maguire was already guaranteed a trip north in 2003 by the time this clash delivered big time on expectations for an intriguing encounter.
Armagh entered the tie confident of reaching the All-Ireland final for the second consecutive year.
However, those ambitions were almost knocked off the rails by the tenacity and skill of a Donegal team which produced much of the best football.
Just a point – 0-4 to 0-3 – separated the teams when Donegal suddenly struck gold. A great move from them helped set to Christy Toye who made no mistake in dispatching the ball past Paul Hearty in the Orchard county goals.
Under the management of Brian McEniff, Donegal enjoyed a 1-4 to 0-4 lead at the break.
Armagh’s cause wasn’t helped by some uncharacteristically poor shooting. However, the dismissal of Adrian Sweeney represented a blow for Donegal and a key turning point in the match.
From then on, the reigning champions swung into gear. While there were many anxious moments remaining for them during an intriguing tussle, the likes of Oisin McConville, Stephen McDonnell and company upped the tempo.
A goal from McDonnell put them firmly back on track, but Donegal kept coming back and the game looked to be heading for a replay when Donegal equalised approaching added time.
But the last action fell in favour of Armagh and a penalty goal from Oisin McConville decided the tie in their favour, putting them into the showdown with Tyrone for the Sam Maguire.
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