Armagh miss out on semis despite victory
Armagh 1-15 Down 2-8
Armagh led from start to finish to give Down an early-season glimpse of what awaits in the Ulster Championship, but failed to advance to the McKenna Cup semi-finals despite the win.
On the strength of last night's lively enough game in the Athletic Grounds, Armagh deserved to make the knockout stages but lost out on scoring average to Derry.
Armagh started and finished very well, while Down also played in fits and starts. Their former Irish League midfielder Alan Davidson continued his early-season promise with 1-4, taking his tally over the McKenna Cup campaign to 2-17.
His last-minute goal, after a defensive blunder by Armagh, left Down within a point. However, half-time sub Jamie Clarke's neat pass found Aaron Findon who drilled the ball into the roof of the net to make sure of a home win.
These sides meet again on June 4 for real and Armagh scored the first seven points inside 22 minutes here. They led 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time.
Darren O'Hagan's 48th-minute goal brought Down to within a point but three points from Niall Grimley steadied Armagh.
scorers - Armagh: R Grugan 0-4 (3f), N Grimley 0-4 (2f), A Findon 1-0, S Sheridan, E Rafferty 0-2 each; A Duffy, O MacIomhair, N McConville 0-1 each. Down: A Davidson 1-4 (2f), D O'Hagan 1-0, C Magee, B O'Hagan, C Mooney 0-1 each, D Savage 0-1 (f).
Armagh - P Morrison; J Magill, C Vernon, O Lappin; A Forker, N Rowland, C Higgins; S Sheridan, N Grimley; B Crealey, C White, R Grugan; A Duffy, E Rafferty, O Mac Iomhair. Subs: J Clarke for White (h-t), J McElroy for Higgins (42), A Findon for Crealey (51), J Hall for Mac Iomhair (53), S McCoy for Rowland (62), N McConville for Grugan (65).
Down - M Cunningham; R McAleenan, G McGovern, D O'Hagan; R Mallon, C McGovern, B McArdle; N Donnelly, J Flynn; C Gallagher, C Magee, J Murphy; A Davidson, B O'Hagan, P Havern. Subs: S Millar for Gallagher (29), C Mooney for Mallon (35), C Maginn for Magee (45), A Carr for Donnelly (BC, 59), D Savage for Havern (63).
Ref - S Hurson (Tyrone)