Down 2-20 Armagh 1-7: Down produced a second half masterclass in finishing to crush Armagh in Division 2B of the Allianz Hurling League at the Athletic Grounds yesterday.
The home side managed to remain in touch throughout the first half, even after substitute Scott Nicholson's 27th minute goal appeared to have thrust Down into the driving seat at 1-5 to 0-3.
But the superb Mattie Lennon fired in a memorable goal from a penalty to add to the three points he had landed from frees earlier and Armagh were suddenly back in contention at 1-6 to 1-4 by half-time.
After the break, though, Down unleashed a relentless scoring blitz that left Armagh all at sea – and presented the winners' boss Gerard Monan with interesting selection options.
"Even though we have injuries, competition for places is hotting up. This was a good win for us," said Monan.
Armagh were restricted to just two points in the second half that prompted manager John Lennon to admit that his side had encountered "a grim reality check."
Down: S Keith; R Branagan, P Flynn, M Hughes; B Nicholson, C Woods 0-2 (both '45's'), S Ennis; D Hughes 0-1 , J McGrath 0-1; M Ennis, C O'Neill 1-0 pen, S Dineen 0-2; D Toner, C Bailie 0-4, P Sheehan 0-4 (1f 1'45'). Subs: S Nicholson 1-2 (1f) for M Ennis (7 mins), B Coleman 0-3 for Toner (43), M Turley for Sheehan 48, F Conway 0-1 for McGrath 54, M McCullough for S Ennis 66. Yellow card: S Ennis (29).
Armagh: S Doherty; C Devlin, C Clifford, D Mone; P Gaffney, N Curry, S Renaghan; F Bradley, J Corvan; N Greene, R Gaffney, K McKernan; M Lennon 1-5 (0-5 frees), C Corvan 0-2, O Curry. Subs: P Hughes for Greene (59 mins), L Mckee for O Curry 65, M Garvey for Mone 67.
Referee: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow).