Roscommon have overcome their early season strife to earn a spot in the Allianz Hurling League Division 3B final while Armagh and Monaghan will clash in the semi-final after a dramatic final round of action.
A 1-19 to 0-14 win for Roscommon over Monaghan in Clontibret completed a fine turnaround in fortunes for the Connacht outfit.
They had managed only two points from their first three games in what was a difficult time off the pitch too as manager Francis O'Halloran stepped down and Seamus Qualter was reappointed.
But they finished the campaign strongly, hammering Armagh in round four before completing the deal in the Farney County.
They made a strong start to proceedings and Brendan Mulry’s goal midway through the first half had them 1-10 to 0-08 ahead at the interval with Roscommon’s Paddy Fallon and Monaghan’s Fergal Rafter exchanging points throughout the half.
Roscommon grabbed the first five points of the second half, four coming from Fallon, to leave them 1-15 to 0-08 ahead 10 minutes into the second half and although Rafter tried to keep Monaghan in touch, Roscommon had too much with Mulry having the final say with a point.
Monaghan started the day with thoughts of a direct path to the final, but they must meet neighbours Armagh who had to withstand a brilliant Fermanagh fightback to secure a 3-17 to 3-16 win at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds.
Karl McKeegan’s side held a seven-point advantage as the game ticked into additional time, but the Erne County struck for two goals late on to set up a grandstand finish in Middletown.
The hosts had lost Conor Reneghan to a red card heading into that frantic finale, but there appeared little indication of the turbulence to come despite a good start for the visitors.
After the first 12 points were shared, Joe Baldwin’s side found a burst that saw them lead 1-12 to 0-09 at the turn, Sean Corrigan with the goal and Luca McCusker scoring freely.
Peadar McBride goaled for Armagh early in the second half and Danny Magee followed suit minutes later. It was the latter who raised the third green flag and all looked at hand when captain Fionntán Donnelly helped Armagh into that seven-point lead.
However, Fermanagh fought gamely but it wasn’t enough.
Armagh’s ability to hold on would have been a relief to their former captain and current Louth manager Paul McCormack as his side lost 5-20 to 0-15 to Mayo in Darver.
If Fermanagh had won, Louth would have been down while Mayo, who started the day bottom of the table, were easily able to secure their safety with that 20-point win.
Three of those goals arrived in the first half courtesy of Adrian Phillips (2) and Eoin Delaney.
Delaney grabbed his second midway through the second half before Joe McManus added a fifth late on.
The Division 3B situation was less dramatic heading into the final round of fixtures with Cavan, on their bye week, already guaranteed a final spot.
With both Leitrim and Lancashire enjoying head-to-head supremacy over Lancashire, they knew their game in Drumshanbo was a dress rehearsal for their semi-final clash next weekend.
It was the home side who came out on top with Joe Murray hitting a late point to give Leitrim a 0-10 to 0-09 win.
Lancashire did finish level on four points with Longford courtesy of their 5-20 to 1-15 win over Warwickshire in Birmingham.
They had led 0-12 to 0-10 at the break but raised five green flags in the second half with Shane Madden and Ray McCormack both grabbing a brace for the winners, Conor Madden with the other. Jack Grealish grabbed the Warwickshire major.