Armagh are back in business and poised to rescue their season through the back door, wrties Francis Mooney.
They finished emphatic winners in their Ulster derby at the Athletic Grounds, routing Fermanagh with an impressive display of finishing.
Jamie Clarke marked his return to form with three delightful points and a string of assists as the Orchard attack proved too hot for the 14-man Erne side, who had skipper Eoin Donnelly sent off on a second booking with 15 minutes to play.
Tomas Corrigan hit six Fermanagh points, but carried a heavy burden for a team that otherwise lacked a cutting edge until the late introduction of Sean Quigley.
And Armagh have found another valuable source of scores, through strapping midfielder Niall Grimely, a dead ball specialist who helped himself to six quality long range points.
Armagh got their running game going early on, and target man Andrew Murnin had an early impact, hitting their opening point and winning the free that skipper Rory Grugan converted.
But the Erne men were level by the sixth minute, Corrigan knocking over a free before Ryan Lyons landed a superb effort.
Eoin Donnelly gave them impetus from midfield, while Paul McCusker and Lyons ran strongly at the Orchard defence, and they opened out a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
Corrigan sliced over a superb score from a sideline ball, and added another from a free, before Donnelly sent a long range effort soaring between the posts.
Armagh were found wanting when it came to converting opportunities into scores, hitting a rash of wides – nine in total in the first half – and they went 20 minutes without scoring, before Murnin claimed his second.
Jamie Clarke had been well shackled by Cian McManus, until the 25th minute when the produced a piece of magic to dance aay from two defenders and arrow over a beautiful point.
With Charlie Vernon pushing forward from the back, and Niall Grimley emerging at midfield, Armagh maintained the momentum, winning the frees that Grugan converted, while Ciaron O’Hanlon sent over a neat score as they eased ahead.
Armagh led by 0-8 to 0-6 at the interval, and raided for a couple of Grimley points early in the second half.
Paul Hughes, Aidan Forker and Aaron McKay defended solidly as they set up a disciplined structure at the back, and with the wind gusting in his face, Corrigan was now finding the frees more difficult to register.
Substitute Stefan Campbell stretched the home side’s lead, and they were six ahead going into the final quarter as Grugan added another free.
It went from bad to worse for Pete McGrath’s side when skipper Eoin Donnelly was booked twice in the space of three minutes, and they were down to 14 men.
Despite the loss of their leader, Fermanagh hit the next two points, both from substitute Sean Quigley, while another sub, Daniel Teague, had a shot brilliantly saved by Blaine Hughes.
But Armagh regrouped to finish strongly, with Clarke delighting the home support with some brilliant touches of creativity and finishing.
Ethan Rafferty came off the bench to hit the target, and there were two more superb dead ball strikes from Grimley.
Armagh: B Hughes; P Hughes, C Vernon, A McKay; A Forker, B Donaghy, M Shields; S Sheridan, N Grimley (0-06, 4f, 1 ’45); C O’Hanlon (0-01), A Duffy, R Grugan (0-05, 5f); J Clarke (0-03), A Murnin (0-02), G McParland.
Subs: S Campbell (0-02) for Murnin (39), C McKeever for O’Hanlon (46), E Rafferty (0-01) for McParland (67), O O’Neill for Grugan (69)
Fermanagh: C Snow; M Jones, C Cullen, C McManus; A Breen, R McCluskey, C Murphy; E Donnelly (0-01), R Hyde; R Lyons (0-02), L Cullen, P McCusker; D McCusker, B Mulrone T Corrigan (0-06, 5f, 1 s/l).
Subs: R Corrigan for Hyde (22), S Quigley (0-02) for R Corrigan (45), D Teague for Murphy (59), K Connor for Jones (68)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath)