Armagh made virtually certain of a place in the semi-finals of the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup with a 2-11 to 0-14 win over St Mary’s at the Athletic Grounds.
The Orchard men are in pole position to claim the best runners-up spot and a second clash with Tyrone, who look set to win Group C. Gavin McParland scored both goals as the home side came from behind to win by three.
Ryan Johnston, Tommy Canavan and Jack Grugan gave wind-assisted St Mary’s an early lead, and they had opened out a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage by the time McParland netted a penalty in the 25th minute.
Grugan and Canavan were on target again to give the students a 1-05 to 0-11 interval lead. Two more from Canavan stretched the advantage, before Jamie Clarke knocked over a couple of scores to get Armagh’s comeback going.
McParland broke through for his second goal and points from Declan McKenna, Sean Connell and Eugene McVerry sealed it for Kieran McGeeney’s side.
Armagh’s win will almost certainly ensure them a semi-final place as best runner-up, and a second clash in the competition with Tyrone, who are fancied to win Group C.
Meanwhile, Down went top of Group A with a 1-13 to 1-7 victory over UUJ at Pairc Esler.
The home side got off to a dream start with an early Conor Laverty goal, and with Paul Devlin striking accurately from placed balls, they led by 1-3 to 0-2 after the opening quarter.
Mayo star Cillian O’Connor kept the Jordanstown side in touch with a neat point, but Danny McKay and Devlin eased the home side into a 1-5 to 0-3 interval lead. Down started the second half briskly with scores from Donal O’Hare and Peter Fitzpatrick, and moved seven clear with a Niall Madine effort.
But UUJ hit back with a Niall McKeever goal to ensure a nervy finish as a storm whipped up in the Marshes.
Down held firm in the closing stages, late scores from Cathal Crilly and O’Hare giving easing them home.
The remaining four ties were called off due to adverse weather conditions, and have been re-fixed for Sunday.
Heavy snow forced the postponement of Tyrone’s meeting with Antrim at Omagh, Cavan’s clash with Monaghan at Breffni Park, the Donegal-Fermanagh tie at Ballybofey and the Derrry v QUB game at Owenbeg.
The semi-finals, due to have been played on Sunday, have been pushed back until next Wednesday evening, and the final will go ahead as scheduled on Saturday January 24.