Gavin McParland sparkles in Armagh triumph as they hold off St Mary's
Armagh 2-11 St Mary's 0-14
Armagh summoned on their experience and power to overcome the feisty challenge of St Mary's in this frenetic Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup tie at a rain-lashed Athletic Grounds.
The home side found themselves on the back foot for the greater part of the first half as the students maximised the howling wind with which they were favoured.
Indeed, they produced some lively bursts of scoring before being reined in after the break when the combined wiles of Brendan Donaghy, Ciaran McKeever, Jamie Clarke and Jamie Clarke proved too much for them.
St Mary's, economical when in possession and willing to shoot from distance, caused problems for the home defence particularly when they found their rhythm towards the end of the first-half.
Their early flourish helped them spurt into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead with less than a quarter of an hour gone as they maximised their wind advantage.
With the Johnston brothers Ryan and Jerome along with Thomas Canavan and Jack Grugan displaying accurate marksmanship, St Mary's kept the Armagh rearguard at full stretch and when they opened up a five-point gap at 0-7 to 0-2 they gained in confidence. But Armagh maintained their patient build-ups even though James Morgan and Aidan Forker at the heart of the students' defence often disrupted their attacking mechanism.
It was Gavin McParland who kept Armagh in touch and when he landed his fourth point in the 24th minute, he had single-handedly triggered his side's renaissance.
And when Sean Connell was upended, it was McParland who drilled the penalty home to ensure stalemate at 1-4 to 0-7.
But St Mary's hit back when Ryan Johnston (2), Canavan and Grugan flighted over points that helped to propel their side into a 0-11 to 1-5 interval lead.
However, Armagh turned up the heat after the break and McParland cemented his superb contribution by sweeping home his second goal.
Armagh scorers: G McParland 2-4, C McKeever 0-1, T Kernan 0-1 (f), J Clarke 0-2, E McVerry 0-1, S Connell 0-1, D McKenna 0-1.
St Mary's scorers: T Canavan 0-5 (2f), J Johnston 0-3, R Johnston 0-2 (1 '45'), J Grugan 0-2, K McGeary 0-1, A Forker 0-1.
Armagh: T Harney; E McArdle, B Donaghy, J Donneelly; S Connell, C McKeever, C Vernon; D McKenna, S Harold; S Forker, T Kernan, F O'Neill; O MacIomhair, S Sheridan, G McParland. Subs: P Courtney for O'Neill (h/t), M Murray for Donnelly (43), E McVerry for MacIomhair (49), J Clarke for Forker (50), C Rafferty for McParland (62).
St Mary's: R Burns; R Wilson, J Morgan, D Morrow; P McBride, A Forker, H Loughran; C McCann, B Og McGilligan; J Johnston, K McGeary, R Johnston; T Canavan, M Fitzpatrick, J Grugan. Subs: B O'Hagan for Fitzpatrick, C Quinn for McCann (both 63 mins).
Referee: Ciaran Trainor (Down).
ST MARY'S 0-14