Tony Kernan's injury-time free rescued a 0-16 to 1-13 draw for Armagh against Louth in Drogheda.

Kernan's score came in the 72nd minute following a brilliant comeback from Paul Grimley's side.

Louth led by six points at the interval, and both Declan Byrne and Colm Judge were in impressive scoring form.

But the hosts, who were nine to the good at one stage, wilted as Stefan Forker's goal with four minutes left inspired the Orchard revival.

The Ulstermen drew first blood in the third minute of this local derby when Kernan easily followed up a rebounded free. That early setback seemed to spur Louth on though, who were tenacious in defence and limited Armagh to half-chances in the opening exchanges.

Aidan O'Rourke's Louth outfit then hit five scores without reply, the best of which coming from Derek Maguire in the 15th minute.

The Orchard men eventually got on the scoreboard again thanks to a free from midfielder Ethan Rafferty in the 18th minute, but once more the Wee County were able to stem any further Armagh progress, with a couple of scores from Eoin O'Connor and Maguire once more.

Louth's lead was now at five points and Armagh looked unable to impose themselves.

Louth boss O'Rourke elected to pack the middle of the park, leaving just two men at full-forward, this tactic was bearing fruit as both Andy McDonnell and Maguire had plenty of space to maraud and stretch the Armagh backline.

Armagh manager Grimley, with the assistance of Kieran McGeeney, decided to shake things up in the 24th minute by bringing on two substitutes, however it did not have the desired effect as Louth hit two scores within four minutes thanks to a muscular Paddy Keenan point and a straightforward free from Declan Byrne.

Once more Grimley shuffled his deck and brought on Stephen Harold for James Lavery. Harold should have done much better just moments later when he was clean through on the Louth goal and tamely clipped the ball into Shane McCoy's arms.

A score apiece ended a strong half from Louth, leaving it 0-10 to 0-04 in favour of the home side.

Into the second half Louth began were they had left off as Brian Donnelly and Colm Judge struck to extend the lead to eight points.

Stefan Campbell got a cheer from the travelling Orchard support when he hit a high score in the 42nd minute.

But an audacious Keenan effort from tight on the right had the Reds moving once more and Colm Judge converted a free with 45 minutes gone to once more leave Louth ahead by nine points.

With the game seemingly in the bag, the home side slipped backwards into defence more and more and invited a renewed-looking Armagh team onto them.

Three quick scores in three minutes added a bit of life to the visitors' challenge, but once more a brace from Louth ended that run.

However, Grimley brought on Oisin McKeever following two scores from Armagh danger man Jamie Clarke, and they were once more on the charge.

Substitute Stefan Forker then got on the end of a scrappy ball into the Louth danger area and hammered home the game's only goal with four minutes remaining.

Sensing they could get something from the game, Armagh pushed on and once McKeever and Stefan Campbell raised further white flags, there was only one point in it.

Up stepped Tony Kernan to secure the draw for the visitors in injury-time and leave Louth wondering would might have been.

Louth: S McCoy; P Rath, P Reilly, G O'Hare; J O'Brien, D Finnegan, L Shevlin; P Keenan (0-03), B Donnelly (0-02); A Reid, C Judge (0-04), D Byrne (0-03); A McDonnell (0-01), E O'Connor (0-01), D Maguire (0-02).

Substitutes: K McLaughlin for O'Brien, C Doyle for Maguire, S Campbell for Byrne, J Kermode for O'Connor, D Clarke for Judge, C Rafferty for Reid.

Armagh: P McEvoy; A Mallon, C Vernon, M Murray; M Shields, J Hanratty, R Grugan (0-01); E Rafferty (0-02), J Lavery; S Campbell (0-03), T Kernan (0-02), R Tasker; J Clarke (0-03), P Hughes, K Carragher.

Subs used: C McKeever (0-01) for Hanratty, A Forker for Hughes, S Harold for Lavery, B Mallon for Carragher, S Forker (1-0) for Tasker, O McKeever (0-01) for  Forker.

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)