Armagh hurlers will remain in Division 3A next season, having lost out to Roscommon in Sunday’s league decider, played at a bitterly cold Páirc Tailteann in Navan.
The westerners got off to a brighter start in the opening 15, taking full advantage of a strong breeze with three frees from Cathal Dolan and two from play for Conir Mulry. Danny Magee and Dean Gaffney raised white flags for the Orchard side, and after the former put the latter through one on one with the keeper, the Armagh men were left frustrated with the referee calling back for a free before Gaffney had a chance to fire on goal. Magee pointed the resultant free and soon added a couple more from the dead ball to level matters on 28 minutes, as conditions deteriorated during the heavy snow storm. Cathal Dolan was on target twice more after a serious injury to Ciaran Clifford resulted in a long delay. Thankfully Clifford was able to continue and as play went on, the in-form Danny Magee was again on target to close the gap to a single point at half time.
Half time: Armagh 0-6 Roscommon 0-7
Roscommon started the second half in similar fashion to the first, and a Shane Curley converted 65 was the reward, after a shot on goal was well stopped and forced wide by Simon Doherty. Magee and Dolan exchanged frees, but Roscommon won a lot of the breaks and dirty ball to increase the pressure on the Armagh defence. A further three Dolan frees to Magee and Armagh’s one pushed the westerners four ahead 18 minutes into the second half. It was then that Armagh rallied and scores from Nathan Curry, Magee and Eoin McGuinness reduced the margin to one. But Roscommon were determined not to let the title slip away and two late scores from Pádraig Kelly gave them a three point lead. With seconds ticking away, a Nathan Curry piledriver shot from a free could not find its way past a packed Roscommon goalmouth and it was the westerners who would celebrate a league title and promotion to Division 2B.
Full time: Armagh 0-11 Roscommon 0-14
Despite defeat, Armagh can take plenty of positives from the game with little to separate the two sides and can go into the break with a bit of confidence after a decent league run. Their focus will now turn to the Nicky Rackard championship campaign, which begins in May with a home game to Monaghan and visits to Warwickshire and Longford.
ARMAGH: Simon Doherty; Paddy Quinn, Artie McGuinness, Caolán Rice; Davy Bridges, Ciarán Clifford, Tiarnán Nevin; Odhrán Curry, Nathan Curry 0-1; Dean Gaffney 0-1, Stephen Renaghan, Shaun Toal; Danny Magee 0-8 (0-6f), Dylan McKenna, Eoin McGuinness 0-1
Subs used: Paddy McGrane, Conleth Lavery, Liam Woods