Johnson double sinks Armagh
THE predatory skills of Gareth 'Magic' Johnson and Paul Braniff underpinned this impressive victory by Down at the Athletic Grounds.
Johnson scored the first of his brace of goals in the 20th minute to complement a similar score from James Coyle two minutes earlier but Down were cushioned by just a one-point lead at the interval, 2-6 to 0-11.
Declan Coulter's accurate free-taking ensured their hosts remained on their shoulder.
Down centre-back Ciaran Coulter saw red in the 28th minute but further goals from Johnson and Braniff cemented their ascendancy.
Free-taker Coulter remained in the vanguard of Armagh's resistance after the break bringing his tally to seven points but Down's greater fluency and defensive stability served them well in the closing stages.
Substitutes Conor Woods and Caolan Ballie in particular helped sustain momentum.
Man of the match: G Johnson (Down)
Scorers – Down: G Johnson 2-2, P Braniff 1-5 (0-4fs), J Coyle 1-0, S Nicholson 0-4, D Toner, C Baillie 0-1 each. Armagh: D Coulter 0-7fs, C Corvan 0-3, J Corvan, D Carvill 0-2 each, R Gaffney 0-1.
Armagh – S Doherty 6, C Devlin 6, C Clifford 6, M Garvey 7; F Bradley 6, N Curry 7, S Gaffney 7; J Corvan 6, K McKernan 6; M Lennon 6, D Coulter 8, R Gaffney 7; C Carvill 7, D Carvill 6, C Corvan 6. Subs: M Maguire 5 for S Gaffney (50), C Reid 5 for Bradley (55).
Down – P McNally 7; M Conlon 6, P Hughes 7, C O'Prey 6; B Toner 6, C Coulter 5, M Ennis 7; A Savage 6, P Flynn 7; S Nicholson 7, P Braniff 8, K McGarry 6; D Toner 6, G Johnston 9, J Coyle 7. Subs: C Woods 6 for McGarry (43), D Hughes 6 for Savage (50), E Clarke 5 for Coyle (57), C Baillie 7 for Toner 58.
Ref – E Hassan (Derry).