Roscommon forward Cathal Dolan’s accuracy from free’s proved to be the difference between the two sides in the National Hurling League Division 3A final versus Armagh.

The showpiece highlighted the delights of winter hurling and Irish weather. The imperfect mix lay the foundations for a dogged contest and one where Dolan’s qualities shone even more.

On the losing side Armagh corner forward Danny Magee also deserves a special mention for his dead ball qualities, making the final as close as it was in the end. Despite Armagh’s honesty, Roscommon always seemed to have that extra gear. 

The two sides met in round 3 at the Athletic Grounds and it was Roscommon who claimed victory on that occasion with Dolan top scoring for the winners on the day. The impressive forward continued where he left off, opening the final with a long range free.

Playing with the wind, Roscommon were hugely dominant in the opening quarter, sustaining the pressure the icy gale provided. Conor Mulry landed two points from play in this period. 

Magee cleverly nipped ahead of his marker after he took the sting out of the sliotar to get Armagh up and running. With 11 minutes on the clock the heavens opened up and a blizzard consumed not only Páirc Tailteann, but the entire town of Navan. 

Armagh with their edge in physicality revelled in the conditions and corner forward Magee was in fine fettle as he then struck three frees in succession to draw the sides level.

Once the blizzard succumbed, Dolan pushed Roscommon deservedly back ahead at the turn to make it 0-07-0-06 to leave it anyone’s game at that stage.

Roscommon made it their game by upping the ante against the wind. In truth, their superb short range game suited them when they were playing into the telling conditions. 

The match began to slip for Armagh and their overexertion lead to their indiscipline finally catching up with them. Dolan notched three second half frees before a beauty from play to make it 0-12 to 0-08 and the title all but decided.

Armagh instead had other idea’s and through sweeper Nathan Curry they sparked a mini revival. Magee added to his tally with Eoin McGuinness pointing Armagh’s third point in-a-row.

However, Roscommon held on, showing their class with a brace of excellent points from wing forward Pádraig Kelly to secure the title and promotion to Division 2B for next season.

Armagh: Simon Doherty; Patrick Quinn, Artie McGuinness, Caolan Rice; Davy Bridges, Ciarán Clifford, Tiarnan Nevin; Odhran Curry, Stephen Reneghan;Dean Gaffney(0-01), Eoin McGuinness (0-01), Shaun Toal; Danny Magee (0-08, 0-06f), Dylan McKenna, Nathan Curry (0-01).

Subs: Paddy McGrane for S Toal (47) Conleth Lavery for P Quinn (54); Liam Woods for D Gaffney (70).

Roscommon: Noel Fallon; Alan Moore, Pat Nolan, Paul Kenny; Conor Coyle, Eamon Flanagan, Hugh Rooney; Shane Curley (0-01, 0-0165), Darragh Heavey; Pádraig Kelly (0-02), Cillian Egan, Cathal Dolan (0-09, 0-07f); Gearóid Egan, Conor Mulry (0-02), Peter Kellehan.