Tyrone 1-15 Armagh 2-15
Rian O'Neill inspired Armagh to victory over All-Ireland champions Tyrone and a place in the Dr McKenna Cup semi-finals.
O’Neill was in imperious form at O’Neills Healy Park, a creative force and instinctive finisher as the Orchard made it two wins from two to top their group and dump the holders out of the pre-season competition.
The Red Hands, who have dominated the McKenna Cup in recent years, have failed to win any of their games, and will be without further competitive action ahead of their NFL Division One opener against Monaghan on 30 January.
Fielding just four of their Sam Maguire Cup winning side, with three more coming off the bench, they were always chasing the game, and Rory Grugan’s 51st minute goal snuffed out their second half revival.
Armagh established an early lead through Rian O’Neill, and while Lee Brenann levelled from a ’45, it was the Orchard men that made all the meaningful running throughout the opening quarter
Defending with discipline with 13 men behind the ball, and breaking at pace, Kieran McGeeney’s side always carried a threat as they took the game to the home side.
And with a high press, Tyrone were often caught exposed at the back, and their opponents gratefully accepted the invitation to push on with scores from Jason Duffy and Ross McQuillan.
It was Duffy who buried his shot in the net from Aidan Nugent's assist in the 14th minute, and by the water break, they had built up a 1-5 to 0-2 advantage.
Rian O’Neill was an effective target man as the Orchard pulled further clear, Conor O’Neill and Aidan Nugent (2) adding to their mounting tally.
But the Red Hands rallied late in the half, led by Mattie Donnelly, who slotted over a couple of scores, before Conn Kilpatrick charged through the middle to collect Liam Rafferty’s pass and rifle the ball to the net past Shea Magill.
Armagh led by 1-9 to 1-5 at the break, but substitute Paul Donaghy led a Tyrone revival wth a couple of neat scores, with another man off the bench, James Garrity, also hitting the target.
Donaghy provided a spark and a focal point, another couple of scores closing the gap, before Conor Meyler broke a couple of tackles to leave just a point between the sides.
But Armagh struck back with a second goal in the 51st minute, substitute Conor Grugan making no mistake after Rian O’Neill had made the best of a turnover around the middle.
That goal stood between the sides at the second drinks break, and the Orchard men defended the advantage to the end.
They closed down a Tyrone attack, stifling t he progress that had been building with extra bodies behind the ball.
Chasing the game, the Red Hands managed just two scores in the final quarter, from Darren McCurry and Conor Meyler, while Rian O’Neill and Aidan Nugent kept their side ticking over, and they should have had a goal in the dying moments, but Jemar Hall was denied by Darragh McAnenly.
Tyrone: D McAnenly; S Loughran, C Quinn, L Rafferty (0-01); R Brennan, R McCusker, F Burns; C Kilpatrick (1-00), J Oguz; N Donnelly (0-01), C Meyler (0-02), P Herron; L Brennan (0-01, ’45), M Donnelly (0-03, 1f, 1m), L Nugent (0-01).
Subs: K McGeary for R Brennan (25), J Garrity (0-01) for Herron (h-t), P Donaghy (0-04, 2m) for L Brennan (h-t), M McKearney for Burns (h-t), R Donnelly for Oguz (45), D McCurry (0-01, f) for Nugent (53), C Grimes for Loughran (54), T Carney for M Donnelly (57), S Hamill for N Donnelly (57), P Harte for McCusker (62)
Armagh: S Magill; P Burns. C Higgins, A Forker (0-01); C O’Neill (0-01), N Rowland, J Og Burns (0-01); C Mackin (0-01, m), B Crealey; T Kelly, C O’Hanlon, R McQuillan (0-01); A Nugent (0-03), J Duffy (1-02), R O’Neill (0-03, 1f).
Subs: M Shields for Duffy (18), R Grugan (1-01, 0-1f) for Kelly (h-t), S Campbell (0-01) for O’Hanlon (h-t), J Hall for McQuillan (53), C Mackin for Rowland (53), J Sheridan for Shields (60), R Finn for Forker (60), B McCambridge for Crealey (68), N Smith for C O’Neill (72)
Referee: P Faloon (Down).
Next up for Armagh is a date with Monaghan in the semi-final on Tuesday evening at the Athletic Grounds, 7.45pm. At the same in Ballybofey, Donegal will face Derry in the other semi.
Declan Bonner's side advanced after a 0-15 to 1-09 win over Antrim in Portglenone. Paddy McBreaty netted 0-07 in a clash where the visitors pulled clear after a Conor Murray levelled matters just after half-time.
Derry accounted for Fermanagh on a 0-17 to 1-10 scoreline in Roslea. Matthew Downey's accuracy from placed balls showed the way for the Oakleafers.