Three see red as McKeever strike puts Armagh on path to victory
Armagh 1-12 Antrim 0-13
Armagh stayed in the promotion hunt with this hard-earned victory over a resilient Antrim side at the Athletic Grounds.
A match that had been keenly contested, but never spiteful, boiled over in the closing stages when Antrim duo Conor Murray and Stephen Beatty and Armagh's Stephen Sheridan were shown red cards by referee Niall Cullen.
Antrim had stayed on their host's shoulders for the greater part of the game, the sides remaining deadlocked at the interval (1-3 to 0-6), with Ciaran McKeever's goal bolstering the home side and CJ McGourty's accuracy from frees sustaining Antrim's challenge.
Armagh looked to have gained the upper hand when they led by 1-11 to 0-9 at the end of the third quarter, but Antrim never relented and might well have caused a surprise had McGourty converted a 62nd minute penalty.
He landed nine points in all in a swashbuckling display of elegant free-taking, while impressive wing-back Paddy McBride landed a brace of points.
Armagh's greater experience up front, where Rory Grugan and McKeever found subtle touches when the heat was on, and a superb brace of points from Charlie Vernon helped to solidify their late advantage before mayhem ensued.
Scorers- Armagh: C McKeever 1-1; C Vernon, G McParland 0-2 each; A McKay, N Grimley, S Campbell, J Clarke, A Duffy, A Forker, A Duffy 0-1 each. Antrim: C J McGourty 0-9 (7f, 1'45'), P McBride 0-2, B Bradley, C Murray 0-1 each
Armagh - B Hughes 7, J Morgan 7, C Vernon 8, P Hughes 7; N Rowland 7, B Donaghy 7, A McKay 7, S Sheridan 7, B Crealey 6; N Grimley 6, C McKeever 8, R Grugan 6, G McParland 6, S Campbell 5, J Clarke 5. Subs: A Forker 5 for Crealey (33), C O'Hanlon 5 for Grimley (42), A Duffy 5 for Campbell (52), S Heffon 5 for Rowland (65).
Antrim - C Kerr 6; C Hamill 6, P Gallagher 7, P Healy 7; P McBride 8, D Lynch 7, P McAleer 7; J Dowling 7, S Beatty 7; K Niblock 7, R McCann 6, M Fitzpatrick 6; C J McGourty 9, C Murray 7, B Bradley 6. Subs: N Delargy 5 for McCann (45), S McVeigh 5 for Dowling (47).
Ref: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)