Tyrone 0-19 Armagh 1-13
The Ulster Championship finally delivered, with Armagh and Tyrone serving up a cracker at the Athletic Grounds.
In the end, the Red Hands eased home by three points against their 14-man neighbours, with Martin Penrose posting an eight points tally.
Armagh had playmaker Kevin Dyas sent off 20 minutes into the second half, and against a team of Tyrone’s experience, they were inevitably going to struggle.
Jamie Clarke showed some magical touches, finishing with six points, and Aidan Forker’s early goal was a massive boost, but the Red Hands, short a host of top forwards, had men capable of racking up a sizeable scoreline.
Brian Mallon and Joe McMahon exchanged early points, both from frees, but the game exploded into spectacular action
McConnell had already pulled off a supber save from Brian Mallon, and the Orchatrd men were moving with confidence and intent in those early stages.
But Tyrone soon found their feet, and drew level after Colm Cavanagh fired over his second point and Owen Mulligan registered his first of the afternoon.
It was a rousing battle, with a sell-out crowd of 16,418 loving every minute of it, and both sides gave their supporters plenty to cheer about.
Jamie Clarke squeezed over a delightful point from a tight angle, then Stephen O’Neill skipped past Ciaran McKeever to hit a gem at the other end.
Kevin Dyas and Clarke got Armagh level again, but only until Mark Donnelly stroked over another lead point.
And the Red Hands, now looking the more composed of the teams, finished the half strongly with points from Penrose and corner back Dermot Carlin to lead by 0-11 to 1-5 at the break.
Armagh hit some bad wides in those closing stages of the half, and the loss of Aaron Kernan to injury was a big blow.
But they raised their game after the restart, with Mallon, Clarke and substitute Gavin McParland, with two wonderful points, pegging the deficit back to a single point.
Kieran Toner and Malachy Mackin were now getting on top at midfield, and with McParland adding an extra threat to their forward division, they looked increasingly menacing.
But they suffered a major blow in the 55th minute when playmaker Kevin Dyas picked up two bookings in the space of a minute, the latest for a high tackle on Peter Harte
Tyrone struggled to gain from their opponents loss, however, and the home side came back to within a point, Clarke and Mallon both converting frees.
The towering John Kingham was pushed up as a target man full forward, but the route one strategy failed to pay off for Armagh, with Joe McMahon, now at full back, winning virtually every ball.
Mallon brought the sides level from a 50 metre free, but once again Tyrone stepped on the gas, and a string of late scores, including a delightful O’Neill effort, saw them over the line.
Tyrone: M Penrose 0-8 (5f), S O’Neilll, P Harte, O Mulligan (1f), C Cavanagh 0-2 each, D Carlin, M Donnelly, Joe McMahon (f) 0-1 each
Armagh: A Forker 1-0, J Clarke 0-6 (2f), B Mallon 0-4 (4f), G McParland 0-2, K Dyas 0-1.
Tyrone: P McConnell, A McCrory, Justin McMahon, D Carlin, C McCarron, C Gormley, Sean O’Neill, Joe McMahon, C Cavanagh, R McNabb, M Donnelly, P Harte, M Penrose, Stephen O’Neill, O Mulligan.
Subs: M Murphy for Justin McMahon (h-t), N McKenna for Mulligan (65), R McMenamin for McCarron (67), P McNeice for Donnelly (73).
Armagh: P McEvoy, A Mallon, B Donaghy, D McKenna, A Kernan, C McKeever, F Moriarty, K Toner, M Mackin, A Forker, K Dyas, A Duffy, J Clarke, B Mallon, C Rafferty.
Subs: P Duffy for McKenna (18), G McParland for Kernan (h-t), J Hanratty for Forker (48), C Vernon for Moriarty (54), J Kingham for Mackin (57)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).