SUPERIOR fitness, slick finishing and a frenetic work ethic helped Armagh to book a semi-final meeting with great rivals Tyrone yesterday.
An early Antrim flourish at the Athletic Grounds held promise but between the seventh and 20th minutes Armagh rattled off seven unanswered points, with corner-forward Ryan McShane in particular a constant thorn in the side of the Antrim defence.
After gobbling up a brace of the points during this sustained spell of dominance, McShane swept his side into an even more comfortable position when he flicked home a goal in the 28th minute.
Antrim, outplayed at midfield and vulnerable at the back, were restricted to spasmodic raids that yielded just a 24th-minute point from Dermot McAleese to complement earlier scores from Ruairi Scott and Patrick McAleer.
Armagh, though, had already slipped into overdrive and led by 1-10 to 0-3 at the break.
And they maintained their momentum after the break, with Niall Grimley grabbing their second goal in the 32nd minute before Dermot McAleese flashed home the visitors' goal in the 45th minute.
Armagh closed the game out comfortably and now look forward to their semi-final mission.
scorers - Armagh: R McShane 1-2, N Grimley 1-1, A Nugent (1f), E Rafferty (2fs), C McKenna 0-2 each, D O'Neill, C Mackin, J Grugan, O'Hanlon 0-1 each. Antrim: D McAleese 1-1, C McNeill, P McAleer, R McCann, R Scott 0-1 each.
Armagh - B Hughes; G McCabe, S Heffron, J Cosgrove; F Burns, D O'Neill, D Nugent; C O'Hanlon, E Rafferty; N Grimley, C Comiskey, C Mackin; A Nugent, C McKenna, R McShane. Subs: G Mackin for O'Hanlon (42), P Campbell for Burns, A McKay for Grimley (both 43), J Grugan for McKenna (52), M Murphy for Rafferty 53), C Martin for McShane (55).
Antrim - R Hanna; C O'Rawe, J Hannigan, G McCorley; R Wilson, P McAleer, C McCann; R McCafferty, C Burke; C Mallon, D McAleese, J Scullion; R Scott, M Fitzpatrick, R McCann. Subs: J O'Connor for Hannigan (25), P McPartland for Wilson, S McGarry for Scott (both h/t), C McNeill for R McCann (45), P Fitzsimmons O'Rawe (52), D Trainor for McAleese (56).
Ref - B Rice (Down)