Armagh has a long tradition of football. Several clubs were already in existence before the formation of the County Board in 1889. Armagh became only the second team to win the Ulster Senior Football Championship in 1890. In the early years of the GAA, a club that won its county championship went on to represent the county and would also wear the county colours. Armagh Harps represented Armagh in the Ulster final, beating Tyrone (Cookstown's Owen Roes), but losing to All-Ireland Champions Cork (Midleton) in the All-Ireland Semi-Final.
Despite early success at provincial level, national success at junior and minor level and All-Ireland final appearances in 1953 and 1977, it took until 2002 for Armagh to win their first and only All-Ireland Senior Football Championship under manager Joe Kernan. The county won the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship, in 1949 and again in 2009. It lost the 1957 All-Ireland Minor final to Meath.
After a disappointing 2009 campaign which resulted in Armagh being defeated by Tyrone, Peter McDonnell stepped down as Armagh manager. He was replaced by Paddy O'Rourke, who is from the neighbouring county of Down. In his first year as manager, Armagh won the Division 2 NFL title and was promoted to Division 1 for 2011. They remained in Division 1 for 2012 but moved to Division 2 for 2013.
G. Wilson, G. Smyth, F. Moriarty, Andy Mallon, Aaron Kernan, Ciaran McKeever, B. McDonald, M. Mackin, G. Swift, G. Loughran, S. Kernan, P. Toal, M. McNamee, R. Austin, B. Mallon. Subs - P. Duffy, B. Toner, J. Murtagh, M. Moore, S. O'Neill.
L. McCorry, E. McCann, J. Brattan, J. McKnight, F. Kernan, B. O’Neill, T. McConville, E. Mee, S. Collins, T. Connolly, S. Blaney, J. Cunningham, S. Smith, P.J. McKeever, B. McGrane. Sub - M. McKnight for Collins.
Armagh 1-07 Kerry 1-05
S. O’Reilly, K. Downey, R. Finnegan, K. Nugent, D. McKenna, N. Rowland, J. Morgan, P. Carragher (0-1), J. Donnelly, R. Grugan (0-1, 0-1f), A. Murnin (0-1), C. King, R. Tasker (0-3), E. McVerry (0-3, 0-1f), G. McParland. Sub - C. McCafferty for Finnegan ’53, T. McAlinden (0-1) for McVerry ’54.
C. Morgan, H. Cumiskey, Gene Hanratty, J. Vallely, Joe Harney, J. Maguire, Owen Connolly, J. Corrigan, F. McAvinchey, F. Toner, P. Fearon, J. Kernan, H. Arthurs, J. Donaghy, J. McCusker. Sub - J. McEntee for McAvinchey.
Like most counties outside of the game's heartland of Munster and south Leinster, hurling has ended to live in the shadow cast by Gaelic football in Armagh, with the exception of border areas such as Keady, Derrynoose and Middletown. However, in recent years the county hurlers have shown a marked improvement under the guidance of manager Mattie Lennon and his assistant Ger Rogan.
In 2006 Armagh won the NHL Division 3 championship, winning all their games in the group stages before beating Louth 3-10 to 1-11 in the final at Breffni Park in Cavan. The step up to Division 2 proved to be a difficult one for the men from the Orchard County. While the team failed to win any of their group games they were unfortunate to lose to Meath and also managed to come within a point of the 2006 Christy Ring Cup finalists Carlow. Heavier defeats were suffered at the hands of more established counties such as Derry and Laois.
Armagh returned to the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship in May 2007 for the first time in almost 60 years with a match against Derry. Despite putting in a strong performance the team lost out on the chance of a semi-final encounter with neighbours Down to an injury-time score.
The advances made in the county over the past two years placed them as favourites in the Nicky Rackard Cup encounter on August 12 against Roscommon; however they lost this game by two points.
In 2010, Armagh won the Nicky Rackard Cup, beating London on a scoreline of 3-15 to 3-14 on 3 July in Croke Park. The Minor team won the Ulster Minor Hurling League Division One title and reached the Ulster Minor Hurling Championship Final. The Under 21 team also reached the Ulster U21 Championship Final.
The Armagh County Board negotiated a number of new sponsorship deals in 2012, including telecommunications company Rainbow Communications as principal jersey sponsor, and Simply Fruit for the Minor team. Previously, the county's main sponsor had been Morgan Fuels, but that 17-year relationship ended somewhat acrimoniously in 2012.