Clarke sets tone for Armagh
Armagh 3-11 Longford 3-9
Armagh got off the mark with a two-point victory over Longford at a windswept Pearse Park.
Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney said he was pleased with the performance: "The lads showed great heart today but in the final minutes they nearly gave me heart failure."
Armagh took no prisoners in the opening exchanges and took full advantage of the strong gale and dominated the first half.
Rory Grugan and Andrew Murin, back after an 18-month injury absence, scored from a difficult angle.
An unmarked Jamie Clarke scored Armagh''s first goal with a blistering shot into the bottom corner and, with five minutes remaining, Oisin O'Neill produced a glorious piece of magic to backheel the ball into the Longford net.
After the break, Armagh continued their all-out assault. O'Neill was denied a second goal by Cian Farrelly but unfortunately for Longford the ball fell to the waiting Stefan Campbell and he made no mistake at the second time of asking.
Longford, however, grabbed goals from James McGivney and Larry Moran and instigated a brave fightback in the latter stages with points from Diarmuid Masterson and Barry McKeon but Armagh's Conor White settled the contest in the last minute to seal a much-needed victory for McGeeney's side.
Scorers - Armagh: S Campbell 1-4 (2fs), O O'Neill 1-1, J Clarke 1-1, R Grugan 0-2 (1f), A Murin 0-2,C White 0-1. Longford: R Smyth 0-4 (1f), L Connerton 1-0, J McGivney 1-0, L Moran 1-0, M Quinn 0-2, (1 '45), D Masterson, D Brady, B McKeon 0-1 each.
Longford - P Collum 6; D Brady 7, B Gileran 6, C Farrelly 6; D McElligott 6, P McCormack 6, M Quinn 6; B O'Farrell 6, J Keegan 6; D Mimnagh 6, J McGivney 6, B McKeon 6; R Smyth 7, L Connerton 6, S McCormack 6. Subs: B Farrell for D Minmagh (h-t), L Moran for D McElligott (54 BC), D Masterson for R Smyth (54 BC). L Hughes for C Farrelly (60), R McEntire for L Moran (67 BC).
Armagh - B Hughes 7; M Shields 7, C Vernon 6, P Hughes 6; B Donaghy 7, N Rowland 7, A McKay 6; S Sheridan 6, A Findon 6; R Grugan 7, O O'Neill 7, N Grimley 6; A Murnin 7, S Campbell 7, J Clarke 7. Subs: G McCabe for Niall Rowland (h-t), B Crealy for N Grimley (48), C White for A Murin (55), C McKeever for O O'Neill (68),
Ref - J Molloy (Galway)