Armagh put up a fight initially and kept things close, going into the break 2-8 to 1-7 behind, but the Mourne men’s superior skills and fitness made the difference in the end.
“I wasn’t happy at half-time, some things just weren’t acceptable but I don’t want to be too hard on them, it’s been a hectic schedule,” said manager Ger Monan.
“We over-elaborated things in the first half but in the final quarter we played more like ourselves and took some good scores.”
James Coyle and John Corvan swapped first-half goals before Ballycran’s Scott Nicholson finished well to give Down the lead at the break.
After the break Armagh’s Declan Coulter pointed the first (free) but Paul Sheehan made a brilliant steal and scored to shift momentum in Down’s favour.
Armagh looked jaded and were wasteful in front of goal, pointing when goals looked to be on while Down were guilty of putting 11 balls wide in the half to Armagh’s five. In the 65th minute Johnny McCusker, who has become Monan’s super-sub of late, came on to score the killer goal from a James Coyle delivery.
Scorers for Down: J Coyle 1-3, P Braniff (3 frees), D Hughes and P Sheehan (0-4 each), S Nicholson 1-0, D Toner 0-2, J McCusker 1-1, C Woods and G Johnston (0-1 each).
Scorers for Armagh: D Coulter (0-8, 5 frees), J Corvan 1-0, D Carville 0-2, C Carville 0-1.
DOWN: S Keith; M Conlan, P Flynn, M Hughes; B Nicholson, C Woods, M Ennis; D Hughes, K McGarry; S Nicholson, P Braniff, P Sheehan; D Toner, G Johnston, J Coyle.
Subs: F Conway for K McGarry (31), P Hughes for B Nicholson (50), J McCusker for P Braniff (50), E Clarke for S Nicholson (60), C Hughes for M Conlon (60).
ARMAGH: J Burke; C Devlin, C Clifford, M McCullogh; P Hughes, N Curry, K McKernan; J Corvan, M Maguire; M Lennon, D Coulter, D Carville; C Carville, C Reid, M Lennon.
Subs: R Fullerton for M Lennon (46), L Woods for C Carville (55), S Gaffney for C Reid (62), C.Donnelly for J. Corvan (63).