Durnin drives Meath on
Meath 2-21 Armagh 1-17
IT'S been a roller-coaster year for Armagh hurling.
After claiming the county's first national title by lifting the Nicky Rackard Cup last June, the Orchard County went on to have a thoroughly disastrous 2011 league campaign and were relegated back down to 3B.
Meath, on the other hand, finished the league just ahead of Armagh, with a three-point home win over them in March.
A tight battle was expected at the Athletic Grounds, but a number of key mistakes by Armagh meant they never really got into the game.
Peter Durnin scored for Meath with a brilliant point less than 15 seconds after the opening whistle. The Royals continued to dominate and went seven points clear of Armagh when Nicky Horan shook the net on 18 minutes.
The Orchard County dug in and a flurry of points from Declan Coulter and Cathal Carvill kept their heads above water. A 30th-minute penalty brought them to within a point of Meath, but a Horan goal 60 seconds later cancelled it out.
The death knell was sounded for the home side when Ruairi McGrattan got his second yellow card after 34 minutes.
A man down, Armagh could not contain a rampant Durnin, who seemed to score at will as Meath closed out the game.
Man of the Match: P Durnin (Meath)
Scorers -- Meath: N Horan (1-5f), P Durnin 1-6 each, N Kirby 0-3, M Cole, D Doran 0-2 each, J Keenagh, G O'Neill 0-1 each. Armagh: D Coulter 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-3f, 0-1 '65') C Carvill 0-6, P McCormack 0-2, P Heaney, M Maguire 0-1 each.
Meath -- S McGann 5; D Donohue 6, E Fitzgerald 6, W Mahedy 6; M Horan 5, P Fegan 6, M Lynch 5; P Keogh 7, G O'Neill 6; J Keenagh 6, N Kirby 7, M Cole 5; D Doran 6, N Horan 7, P Durnin 8. Subs: D Kirby 5 for Horan, D Raleigh 6 M Lynch, B Slevin for Doran.
Armagh -- S Doherty 6; B Mallon 5, N Curry 5, F Woods 3; P Gaffney 4, R McGrattan 4, C Clifford 5; K McKernan 6, J Corvan 6; P Heaney 5, G Enright 4, C Carvill 7; C Corvan 4, P McCormack 6, D Coulter 7. Subs: C McKee 6 for Woods, J King 5 for P Heaney, M Maguire 5 for Enright.
REF -- G Duffy (Antrim).