A big crowd turned out at Healy Park on Saturday evening for the latest instalment of the local rivalry between Tyrone and Armagh and it was the Red Hands who came out on top to collect their first points in the championship group.
After losing narrowly in Galway first day out this was a game that Tyrone simply had to win against an Armagh side who had accounted for Westmeath last weekend and after the seventy odd minutes the home side emerged worthy winners. It was a game that Tyrone played well in the first half to establish an advantage and it was one that they held throughout the game despite Armagh at times threatening to mount a comeback. The visitors lost their star player Rian O’Neill to a straight red card in the opening half but they battled gamely for the remainder of the contest to make their opponents work hard for the victory.
Tyrone could have fallen behind to a goal in the early moments but for a brilliant save from Niall Morgan to deny Conor Turbitt. Darren McCurry, who was outstanding throughout, opened the scoring from a free before Andrew Murnin levelled matters. In the 5th minute Armagh had another good goal chance when after a scramble the ball fell to Jarlath Og Burns but his first time shot went wide of the target. Darragh Canavan and McCurry then hit two superb scores before the latter topped that with an outstanding effort with his weaker right foot for a 0-4 to 0-1 advantage after a dozen minutes. Rian O’Neill converted a free before Morgan denied Jason Duffy an equaliser with another outstanding save.
Conn Kilpatrick then took a good mark and followed that up with the conversion and after Turbitt had pointed man of the match Mattie Donnelly hit a beauty from out on the right wing. McCurry was on fire as he split the posts again before Peter Harte was unlucky not to get a goal as his shot hit the woodwork after exchanging passes with Joe Oguz. Sixty seconds later and Armagh were down to fourteen men after O’Neill was red carded after referee Martin McNally had consulted with his fellow officials. Rory Grugan took a good point from out on the wing but that was surpassed moments later with a beauty with the outside of the boot from Tyrone Captain Paudie Hampsey as they led by double scores at the break, 0-8 to 0-4.
Burns opened the second half scoring with a fisted effort but McCurry cancelled that out from a placed ball as Tyrone pushed on. The superb Michael McKernan landed a great score from out on the wing before a quick free from McCurry picked out Conor Meyler who split the posts for a 0-11 to 0-5 lead. Tyrone were well on top at this stage but credit to Armagh for not throwing in the towel.
Grugan converted a free before substitute Oisin Conatty and Turbitt made it a three point game. Tyrone badly needed a score and they got it through Canavan as he burst up the field on a sixty metre run past a number of players before landing a quality effort with his left boot. Grugan closed it to three again but back came Tyrone with Canavan on target again after his Errigal Ciaran clubmate Cormac Quinn was unlucky to see his attempt at a goal come back off the post. Grugan and Conatty halved the deficit but with the game deep into injury time Tyrone kept ball to see the contest out.