Armagh 2-18 Down 2-19
A spirited second half comeback from Armagh wasn’t enough to get something from this game.
The Orchard trailed by ten at the interval. The introduction of some experienced heads helped kick them into gear.
The threat of Paul Sheehan and Pearse Og McCrickard proved difficult to handle for the hosts in the opening half.
A quick fire 1-1 from Down corner forward Oisin McManus put opened up a six point gap.
Two Danny Magee frees matched scores from Matt Colon and Sheehan before the water break.
Down recored 8 of the next 10 scores, but Armagh were handed a lifeline before the break.
Lorcan Oliver had been dragged down while approaching the goal, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty.
Champion 15 All-Star Simon Doherty, just as he did against Mayo last season, raced up from his own goal and blasted a low shot to the net.
Sheehan added Down’s final score of the opening period. The visitors going into the tunnel with a 10 point lead, 1-16 to 1-6.
Padraig O’Connor rang the changes at the break to get more Orchard experience on the field.
Armagh controlled the third quarter, with scores from Magee (0-2f), Marty Moan and Nathan Curry (0-2 1f).
Disaster struck however when down, through PJ Davidson netted for the second time. That left a comfortable eight point margin between the sides at the second water break.
Still, Armagh fought hard for the remainder of the game. Some great defending ensured Down would not raise another green flag.
Nathan Curry, making his first appearance in the orange and white since 2020’s Nicky Rackard Cup defeat to Donegal, drove over a further three points.
Fellow Middletown man Marty Moan hit a brace as Armagh clawed their way back into contention.
Shea Harvey closed the gap with a goal for his side, getting the final touch after a long ball in by Jim Short.
The lose of Jordan Doran to a staright red helped Armagh’s cause as the extra man really told in the final ten minutes.
Armagh couldn’t grab a levelling score, but will take some positives from the game. They once again play hosts on Friday evening when they welcome Louth for round two of the McGurk Cup.