Armagh got their Division 2 Allianz National Football League campaign up and running with a convincing win over 14-man Tipperary.
The result moves Kieran McGeeney’s men out of the relegation zone while defeat for Tipp means they replace the Orchard in the bottom two.
The result gives extra merit to next Saturday’s clash between Donegal and Armagh in Ballybofey as the as they are both locked on four league points each and the loser is likely to slip out of the promotion picture.
The Munster men were reduced to 14 men on 24 minutes when Mayo referee John Henry caught up with an unfortunate Brian Fox to issue a red card a few minutes after the linesman spotted him tangling with Jamie Clarke off the ball.
By that stage Armagh had played their best football and led 1-07 to 0-03 and while they bossed the first half, Tipperary stayed in the game thanks to their free-taking and they didn’t score from play for almost an hour.
Stefan Campbell and Tipp’s Conor Sweeney from a free traded opening scores before Armagh rallied into a four-point lead with Charlie Vernon, who made his first National League start of the year, getting the ball rolling.
The exceptional Rian O’Neill, Rory Grugan and Niall Grimley stretched Armagh’s lead before Liam McGrath replied for Tipp with a converted free.
On 19 minutes Crossmaglen duo O’Neill and Clarke linked up to set up Charlie Vernon, who rounded goalkeeper Michael O’Reilly to coolly slot into the net.
Five out of the six Armagh forwards scored, with Clarke not finding the target but his contribution was invaluable as he was provider for 1-06 of the Orchard scores.
Rory Grugan, Niall Grimley and O’Neill traded points with Conor Sweeney and Liam McGrath to lead 1-09 to 0-07 at half-time. The second half was another physical battle but not as fluid as the opening half.
Paul Hughes, Grugan, Campbell, O’Neill and Grimley kept Armagh ahead although they frustrated with six wides in-a-row, while Tipperary’s McGrath, Sweeney and substitute Liam Boden hit back but they couldn’t close the gap by any more than four points and the Orchardmen finished six-point winners.
Armagh: Blaine Hughes, James Morgan, Aaron McKay, Paul Hughes (0-01), Aidan Forker, Greg McCabe, Connaire Mackin, Stephen Sheridan, Niall Grimley (0-04, 2 45’, 1 free), Jemar Hall (0-01), Rory Grugan (0-03, 1 free), Charlie Vernon (1-01), Stefan Campbell (0-02), Rian O’Neill (0-03), Jamie Clarke.
Subs: Ryan Kennedy for Morgan (ht), Joe McElroy for Forker (41), Aidan Nugent for Mackin (62), Pearse Casey for Clarke (62), Ethan Rafferty for O’Neill (70).
Tipperary: Michael O’Reilly, Alan Campbell, John Meagher, Emmett Moloney, Conal Kennedy, Daire Brennan, Jimmy Feehan, Steven O’Brien, Liam Casey, Kevin O’Halloran, Liam McGrath (0-06, 5 frees), Brian Fox, Philip Austin, Conor Sweeney (0-05, all frees), Paul Maher.
Subs: Liam Boland (0-01) for Kennedy (31), Colm O’Shaughnessy for Maher (ht), Dan O’Meara for O’Halloran (49), Ben Hyland for Austin (52),
Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)