Tyrone raid Orchard on way to Dublin semi-final
Tyrone 3-17 Armagh 0-8
Tyrone ran up their biggest tally of this Championship year to set up a semi-final meeting with defending All-Ireland champions Dublin on August 27th.
The narrative from here on in will be a team that have blitzed all in front of them, and indeed whether that is a good or a bad thing. And the truth is we have no idea, especially how Dublin have done something remarkably similar in their journey to the end of August.
The next time a conversation begins with the premise that Tyrone have no 'marquee' forwards, feel free to quote a stat or two.
Tyrone have now scored 6-77 over four games. Their winning margins have been 11, 9, 8 and 18 points. They now have two games to an All-Ireland title.
On the dichotomy of Tyrone's scoring tallies and their reputation, Mickey Harte left a salty comment with the press corps; "Maybe one of these days we will not be seen as a defensive team!" he smiled.
The raw numbers tell it all about a first half that Armagh simply failed to present themselves.
The first six scores were created in the first 15 minutes, all to Tyrone, and from that point on they were practically out the gap. Avoid injuries, store away a few things that could be used for a sterner test and get clued in for Dublin.
If there was a blemish it might be the thump that Colm Cavanagh took when reaching for a ball that Peter Harte invited him on to, but left too much on it that Clonmore man Brendan Donaghy could clatter hard into a man only a few mile away over the county boundaries.
On his injury and subsequent substitution Harte described it afterwards as: "A bang in the hip and hopefully nothing more than that because he is a serious operator. He is gold dust in our team and another exhibition of a performance for us again today."
Cavanagh's actually hit the opening point, closely followed by Mark Bradley slipping in for two points from play.
Sean Cavanagh added a free after James Morgan panicked himself into a foul on the rampant Peter Harte.
Armagh goalkeeper, Carrickcruppin's Blaine Hughes was uncomfortable with Tyrone pushing high up on his kick-outs. He went to find a man immediately after the Cavanagh point but the Tyrone captain threw himself full length along the floor to get a hand to it, breaking it to Harte. A handpass later and Mark Bradley was taking aim for a point in the square, but Morgan's tackle caught him off balance.
Referee David Gough had no hesitation awarding a penalty and Harte sent Hughes the wrong way. 1-5 to 0-0 after 15 minutes. We thought there might have been margins between the two alright, but finer than this.
It wasn't until the 23rd minute that Armagh managed their first from play, Mark Shields venturing forward to add to Niall Grimley's earlier free.
Armagh were trying to get Jamie Clarke on the ball and while his marker Cathal McCarron picked up a bit of a knock in the very first minute, once he shrugged it off he, along with the general Tyrone Venus Fly Trap defence, kept the Crossmaglen man completely at bay and when they went in at half-time the Ulster champions were 1-8 to 0-4 to the good.
More than that, they had began to wear Armagh down. James Morgan earned an early yellow card which was always going to dampen down his natural aggression.
Orchard manager Kieran McGeeney had used his favoured marker Mark Shields to follow Peter Harte but he was forced into a desperate lunge on the half hour, black carded and Armagh were down a sticky marker.
Stefan Campbell, a star last year but quite out of sorts this season, was guilty of two first half wides as they racked up six. Robbed of the physical presence and nuisance value of Andrew Murnin, their options were limited.
But in fairness, what they showed more than anything was their sheer inability to play against this Tyrone machine which seems so pre-programmed and a slick operation.
There is no shame in that. As the other quarter-finals bar the Connacht affair has taught us, there is a very clear gap developing between the very best teams and merely good ones. Over the winter, Armagh have to figure out narrowing it.
As the game entered the final quarter, Tyrone's substitutes once again made a stirring contribution. The teenage David Mulgrew had been dropped for Declan McClure and responded in spectacular style, ghosting in on the blind side of Niall Grimley to collect a crossfield ball from Niall Sludden to sidefoot past Hughes on 55 minutes.
That goal had killed the game. But then another long ball caught the Armagh rearguard out on 63 minutes for Mulgrew to collect his second goal while fellow substitute Ronan O'Neill missed with another cheeky lobbed effort in injury time.
Dublin snacked lightly on Monaghan in the headliner. They have not been tested yet.
Nor have Tyrone.
But no doubt about it, they will test each other out.
Tyrone: N Morgan 0-2f; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann 0-1, P Hampsey, P Harte 1-2, 1xpen; C Cavanagh 0-1, C McCann; D McClure 0-1, N Sludden, K McGeary; M Bradley 0-3, S Cavanagh 0-4, 3f, M Donnelly 0-1
Subs: D Mulgrew 2-1 for C McCann, D McCurry 0-1 for McGeary (45m), R Brennan and R O'Neill for McCrory and Bradley (51m), R Donnelly and J McMahon for D McClure and C Cavanagh (58m)
Yellow cards: C Cavanagh (35m), McCarron (61, 62m)
Black cards: 0
Red cards: McCarron (62m)
Armagh: B Hughes; J Morgan, C Vernon, P Hughes 0-1; B Donaghy, M Shields 0-1, J McElroy; S Sheridan, N Grimley 0-1f; R Grugan 0-3, 2f, C O'Hanlon, A Forker; J Clarke 0-1, G McParland 0-2, S Campbell
Subs: O O'Neill for O'Hanlon (30m), E Rafferty for Campbell (46m), B Crealey for McParland (51m), C McKeever for Grimley (56m),
Yellow cards: Morgan (15m), McParland (44m), Clarke (50m), Donaghy (57m), Vernon (74m)
Black cards: Shields (31m, replaced by A Duffy), Sheridan, (58m, replaced by D McKenna), Grugan (64m, no replacement)
Red cards: 0
Referee: David Gough (Meath)