All-Ireland champions Tyrone were sent crashing out of the race for Sam Maguire in a six points Qualifier defeat to neighbours Armagh at the Athletic Grounds.

Kieran McGeeney's side fully deserved this derby triumph, a significant milestone in the county’s steady and solid return to prominence following several seasons in the lower tiers.

Tyrone were chasing the game from an early stage, and never looked comfortable as they tried to break down a hungry opponent that never flinched in a fearless show of resistance

Veteran attacker Stefan Campbell rolled back the years with a terrific performance, affirming the manager’s decision to give him a rare start as he proved a pivotal figure, a creative influence and an accurate finisher.

And goalkeeper Ethan Rafferty, a former attacker who has given many years of service to the Orchard cause, was another key figure, advancing repeatedly into opposition territory and kicking two brilliant points from play.

In front of a crowd of 16,292 in Armagh city, Tyrone's perfect start saw Conor McKenna hit he net after just three minutes. Debutant Peter Teague sent Michael McKernan in to fire in a shot that was parried by Rafferty, but the loose ball fell to Conor McKenna, who rifled the ball home.

Rafferty was scrambling again soon afterwards to claw away Mickey O’Neill’s fisted effort, but the Orchard men composed themselves to find a shape and a support system that proved highly effective as they put the defending champions on the back foot.

Rafferty’s accurate kick-outs were a valuable source of attack, creating the momentum for Aidan Nugent’s opening point, and the goalkeeper was a central character of the opening half, advancing repeatedly into the opposition half, and picking off a delightful point from play.

Armagh, with five changes from the side that lost heavily to Donegal at Ballybofey, grew in confidence as each minute passed with Tyrone pushed further back, and in the 15th minute, they hit the lead with a Nugent goal.

The corner forward cut in from the end line to open the angle from which he beat Niall Morgan from close range, and when Jason Duffy added a point, Kieran McGeeney’s side led by three.

They worked hard to force turnovers off an increasingly frustrated Red Hand side, and created another couple of goal chances, another searching kick-out from Rafferty sending the busy Stefan Campbell away, and once again it was Nugent who got on the end of it, but this time Morgan cleared the danger.

A nervous Tyrone defence was sliced open again as James Morgan released the in-rushing Stephen Sheridan, but the midfielder blazed his shot over the bar.

Tyrone introduced Footballer of the Year Kieran McGeary, a surprising omission from the starting 15, and in the closing stages of the half, they began to find some joy, with Darren McCurry hitting three points, and Peter Harte finding the target from distance.

Armagh’s dominance and industry deserved more than the one-point lead with which they turned around, and at 1-06 to 1-05 the Sam Maguire Cup holders were more than relieved to have avoided more serious damage.

But the home side had another flourish with points from Rian O’Neill and Rory Grugan, Tyrone suffering a further blow with a black card picked up by substitute Richie Donnelly.

But Armagh managed just one one point during the 10-minute spell of numerical advantage, a Rian O’Neill free, as they adopted to retreat in the face of the Red Hand press.

But as Tyrone committed more men forward, the open spaces began to appear at the back, and the Orchard men made hay.

Goalkeeper Rafferty landed another long range special, again from play, and scores from Stefan Campbell and O’Neill pushed them into a six-point lead.

Despite the positive impact made by substitute Darragh Canavan, Tyrone were struggling to prise open an Armagh defence in which Greg McCabe, Jarly Og Burns and James Morgan were excellent.

The Red Hands did pull back scores through Richie Donnelly, McCurry and Conn Kilpatrick, but Armagh were resolute, and always looking to hit the champions on the breakaway, which they did in spectacular fashion, Campbell and Andrew Murnin fetching from the clouds to fire over points late on.

Armagh: E Rafferty (0-02); J Morgan, A Forker, P Burns; A McKay, G McCabe, J Og Burns; S Sheridan (0-01), B Crealey; R Grugan (0-01), S Campbell (0-02), C O’Neill (0-01); A Nugent (1-01), R O’Neill (0-04, 3f), J Duffy (0-01).

Subs: C Mackin for P Burns (18), C Turbitt (0-01) for C O’Neill (h-t), A Murnin (0-02) for Duffy (58), J Hall for Nugent (58), M Shields for Mackin (68), R McQuillan for Sheridan (73)

Tyrone: N Morgan; P Teague, R McNamee, P Hampsey; M McKernan, P Harte (0-01), R Brennan; C Kilpatrick (0-01), F Burns; C Meyler, M O’Neill, N Sludden; D McCurry (0-07, 5f), M Donnelly, C McKenna (1-00).

Subs: K McGeary for Teague (30), R Donnelly (0-01) for Sludden (h-t), D Canavan for Burns (49), C McShane for M Donnelly (54), M McGleenan for O’Neill (73)

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).