Armagh 2-16 Louth 3-12
Ten points from Armagh sharpshooter Dean Gaffney handed the Orchard County their opening win of the season.
The Middletown marksman fired over the winning score, just as he did when these sides met two years ago.
Eoin McGuinness made a telling impact when introduced off the bench. The Newry Shamrocks attacker rattled the night twice in the second period.
Louth will have gone away filled with regret however. For long periods of the game, they were the better team on show.
Led by the super Darren Geoghegan, the Wee County didn’t trail until the 63rd minute.
A fortuitous Conor Deane goal put the visitors 1-5 to 0-2 up after 17 minutes as Armagh struggled to get into the game.
Scores from Gaffney (three frees), Paddy McBride and Fionntan Donnelly kept the Orchard in touch.
Louth midfielder Feidhlim Joyce pointed just before the break, putting his side 1-8 to 0-7 ahead.
Paul McCormack’s men looked like pulling away when Paul Matthews netted during the opening minute of the second half.
Armagh hit back instantly. Stephen Renaghan directed a long ball towards the square which was gathered by McGuinness.
The towering full forward kicked the ball into the corner of the net and offered the Orchard a fighting chance.
Gaffney and Geoghegan traded scores while a fabulous double-save from Simon Doherty discarded another Louth chance.
Three in a row from Gaffney tied the game before McGuinness grabbed his second three-pointer, pouncing on a loose ball inside the six-yard box.
Armagh followed it up with points from McGuiness and Tiarnan O’Neill and suddenly the hosts were five to the good.
Louth showed incredible resilience and fought to the bitter end. Substitute Mark Gahan fired to the net with only moments left to tie the contest.
Armagh had the final say however and it was that man Gaffney who stepped up and slotted over from the dead ball.
While there is much room for improvement, Padraig O’Connor’s men will be delighted with the two points.
Focus will swiftly change to next weeks challenge as head to Inniskeen to take on Monaghan in round two.