Armagh couldn't have asked for a better start to their drive for promotion from Division 2 of the Allianz Football League with an emphatic win over Ulster rivals Cavan, including a dream debut from Conor Turbitt, who struck 1-06 from play.
It was a game played at full throttle in front 4,466 supporters at Armagh’s Athletic Grounds.
Two second-half goals killed off any chance Cavan had of coming away with anything and it is Armagh who travel to Portlaoise on Saturday brimming with confidence after a stunning performance.
Kieran McGeeny’s men were playing with the strong breeze blowing towards the Cathedral end and they made it count with eight of their ten first-half points from play.
The Orchard men sought revenge from the side that crushed their hopes of an Ulster Final appearance last season, while Cavan started their campaign without star men, Niall Murray, Dara McVeety and Cian Mackey and they lost top scorer Conor Madden in the opening half tonight.
But it was Armagh’s young Turbitt that caught the eye especially as his coolly taken goal just after the break put daylight between the sides.
Crossmaglen’s Callum Cumiskey also impressed on his National League debut along with young Turbitt, but there was no place in the squad for Jamie Clarke. Cavan also introduced young Evan Doughty from the bench and he looks a player to look out for over the coming seasons.
Cavan scored only 1-3 in the second half as Armagh dominated every sector.
The first quarter belonged to the Orchard as Oisin O’Neill, Aidan Forker and Rory Grugan kept the scoreboard ticking over and with 15 minutes gone Armagh led 0-07 to 0-02, with Conor Madden and Oisin Kieran grabbing Cavan’s points.
Conor Smith and Madden added to Cavan’s tally but Stefan Campbell and Grugan extended Armagh’s led with two beauties, but they then took their foot off the gas.
However, Cavan suffered a blow when Stephen Smith was sin-binned on 28-minutes, but despite their numerical advantage they found the Blues’ defence hard to break down and opted for attempted advanced marks with little joy.
Oisin O’Neill did bring Armagh’s tally to double figures but Bryan Magee’s late converted free cut their lead in half at the break (Armagh 0-10 Cavan 0-05).
The second half was only a minute old when Turbitt rattled the net after defender Padraig Faulkner made a hash of Rian O’Neill’s high ball in and that set the tone, as Armagh stamped their foot on Cavan’s throat.
Armagh’s tails were up and points from Oisin O’Neill, his brother Rian and captain Campbell added to the tally before Geariod McKiernan hit back with Cavan’s first score of the half on 46 minutes.
There was further bad news though for Cavan as Killian Brady and James Smith were sin-binned within six minutes of each other to reduce Cavan to 13 players and as expected Armagh pulled away. Grugan and young Turbitt kept the scores coming and there was no way back for Cavan, who were back to 15 players with 58 minutes played.
There was still time for Campbell to convert from the penalty spot on 63 minutes, but despite being down and out Cavan displayed fighting spirit and James Smith crashed home a scrappy goal three minutes from time.
It was a disappointing performance from Cavan and they welcome Westmeath at the weekend, whereas morale is high in the Orchard camp and with 2-18 on the board yet again this season, they are hitting the ground running.
Scorers - Armagh: Conor Turbitt (1-06, 0-1 forward mark), Oisin O'Neill (0-03), Rory Grugan (0-3, 0-2 frees), Stefan Campbell (0-02), Rian O’Neill (0-02, 2 frees) Niall Grimley (0-01), Aidan Forker (0-01).
Cavan: Conor Madden (0-03), Oisin McKiernan (0-02, 0-1 free), Gearoid McKiernan (0-02, 2 frees), Bryan Magee (0-01, free).
Armagh: Blaine Hughes, Paddy Burns, Greg McCabe, Conor O’Neill, Callum Cumiskey, Brendan Donaghy, Aidan Forker, Niall Grimley, Stephen Sheridan, Jason Duffy, Rory Grugan, Oisin O’Neill, Conor Turbitt, Rian O’Neill, Stefan Campbell.
Subs: Mark Shields for Duffy (48), Joe McElroy for Forker (58), Jarly Og Burns for P Burns (61), James Morgan for Cumiskey (65), Jemar Hall for R O’Neill (65).
Cavan: Raymond Galligan, Paddy Meade, Padraig Faulkner, Gerard Smith, Ciaran Brady, Benjamin Kelly, Oisin Kiernan (0-02), Killian Brady, Bryan Magee (0-01, free), Stephen Smith, Simon Cadden, Conor Smith, Martin Reilly, Gearoid McKiernan (0-02, 2 frees), Conor Madden (0-03).
Subs: Evan Doughty for Madden (31’), Oisin Pierson for C Smith (31’), James Smith for Magee (49’), Chris Conwau for M Reilly (57’).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).