Armagh staged a brilliant late rally, coming from two points behind with three minutes left to snatch victory with Declan McKenna's last-gasp point in this McKenna Cup clash at Pairc Esler on Saturday night.
Playing fast, open, attacking football, Armagh dominated midfield through Charlie Vernon and James Lavery, with Michael O'Rourke, Brian Mallon and Rory Grugan starring in attack.
However, the Down attack was also potent, with Benny Coulter in fine form.
Mallon shot Armagh ahead after two minutes and with Grugan kicking three points and Gavin McParland two, they surged into a 0-8 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Down gradually battled back with a series of points before a brilliant goal from Peter Fitzpatrick levelled the game with three minutes of the half remaining, and the sides went in level at 1-6 to 0-9.
Down restarted in brilliant fashion, with Coulter's goal helping them to a 2-10 to 0-10 lead midway through the half.
Armagh introduced former Mayo player Billy Joe Padden and they rallied with a goal from Mallon, before another goal from Anto Duffy put them a point ahead with 10 minutes remaining.
However, Down came back strongly and Coulter's second goal regained the lead with five minutes to go.
But points from Paul Duffy and Conor Clarke levelled the game, before McKenna became the hero.
Scorers -- Armagh: B Mallon 1-1, A Duffy 1-0, M O'Rourke, R Grugan (2f) 0-3 each, G McParland 0-2, P Duffy, D McKenna, J Feeney, C Watters, C Clarke, J Murtagh (f) 0-1. Down: B Coulter 2-1, P Fizpatrick 1-0, A Carr (2f), M Clarke (3f) 0-3 each, K McKernan, C Maginn, R Murtagh, M Magee.
Armagh -- P McAvoy; V Martin, K Toner, P Duffy; K Dyas, D McKenna, J Feeney; C Vernon, J Lavery; R Grugan, M O'Rourke, A Duffy; G McParland, B Mallon, C Watters. Subs: B J Padden for Feeney, C Clarke for Watters, J Murtagh for McParland.
Down -- C Murdock; P McPolin, G Carville, K McKernan; K Anderson J Colgan, K Duffin; D Sheerin, P Fitzpatrick; C Maginn, A Carr, B Coulter; P Devlin, R Murtagh, M Clarke. Subs: M Magee for Sheerin, C Poland for Maginn, C Laverty for Clarke, L Doyle for Anderson, K King for Carr.
Ref -- JJ Cleary.