The beaten Ulster finalists will wonder how they managed to lose a game in which they scored 19 points but it was Cork’s goal threat that turned the tide in the Rebels’ favour.
Cork boss, Brian Cuthbert - a former All-Ireland winning minor football captain – had to make a number of changes, positional and in terms of personnel, and they paid match-winning dividends.
“We had no choice really” Cuthbert admitted. “With 25 minutes gone, the game could have been over. We just couldn’t get the ball up to the forward line. We got the ball down six or seven times in the first half and ended up scoring 1-5 so that wasn’t bad. But at the other end we were standing yards off our men.
“You’d have to say that Mathew O’Shea came in full-back and did very well for us. Dan (McEoin) got a goal and Stephen came on and got 1-1. These changes have been working for us all year.
“We’re not the type of team that will beat anyone by 10-15 points but if we do get it together.”
Armagh manager Paul McShane took the defeat remarkably well, accepting that such drama is part and parcel of sport.
“I’m devastated for the lads inside there as they worked so hard and put everything into it, especially to get back two points in front after falling a point behind.
“But sometimes these things go against you. Last year they went for us (when Armagh won the All-Ireland) so you have to take it on the chin. But it’s very hard on the lads.”
Armagh’s midfield dominance was the foundation of their 0-8 to 0-3 lead by the 20th minute, with Peter Carragher, Conor Gough, Aidan Forker, Ryan Conlon and Ryan Rafferty in stellar form.
John O’Rourke struck for a crucial 21st minute goal for Cork but they still trailed by four points at the interval.
The Leesiders moved Damien Cahalane to midfield to good effect but it was the contributions of substitutes McEoin and O’Mahony that proved critical, both men scoring 1-1 to break Armagh hearts.
Points from Forker, Niall McConville and Colin Stevenson looked to have saved the Orchard youngsters, but O’Mahony’s strike after O’Rourke’s powerful run denied them at the death.
CORK: D Hanrahan; D Murphy, T Clancy, D Cahalane 0-1; D Lester 0-1, J Wall, K Fulignati; J Burns, J O’Rourke 1-1; K Sheehan 0-1(f), D Fitzgerald 0-1, A Cronin; K Hallissey 0-1, T Hegarty, B Hurley 0-3(1f).
Subs: D McEoin 1-1 for Sheehan (ht); M O’Shea for Wall (ht); S O’Mahony 1-1 for Hegarty (48); D O’Donovan for Fulignati (51); M Sugrue for Fitzgerald (60)
ARMAGH: M McNiece; R McCaughley, C Hoey, R Finnegan; D Nugent, J King 0-1, N McConville 0-2; P Carragher 0-1, C Gough 0-1; R Rafferty 0-2, M McKenna 0-1, B Seeley 0-2(1f); P McGeown, A Forker (0-6, 3fs), R Conlon 0-2.
Subs: S McCoy for McCaughley (57); C Stevenson 0-1 for Conlon (57); C Trainor for Seeley (58)
Referee: J Curley (Meath)