John Fallon reports from Tuam Stadium
Galway came good when it mattered most to win a thrilling contest at Tuam Stadium which was full of drama from start to finish.
Derry will feel they should have got something from the game but Galway’s ability to strike for goals proved crucial as they took a big step towards promotion.
Derry held a three points lead at the break after a cracking opening half which produced a total of 4-17 to entertain the large crowd.
Derry, having played with the diagonal wind, led by 2-10 to 2-7 at the break, having recovered from a poor start which saw Danny Cummins find the net for the Tribesmen after three minutes to lead by 1-3 to 0-2 after 12 minutes.
Niall Loughlin was Derry’s biggest threat in the opening half and helped them recover from the poor start.
Galway didn’t make the most of their early scoring chances but still led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter before Derry took control.
They shot 1-5 without reply in a blistering ten minute spell with Benny Heron fisting home a rebound after Emmett McGuckian’s shot was superbly saved by Ruairi Lavelle after 23 minutes.
Derry goalkeeper Thomas Mallon saved a penalty from Barry McHugh six minutes from the break and then McGuckian hit the net at the other end to pull six points clear.
However, Galway finished the half strongly with Tom Flynn scoring a superb goal after soloing in from the righty before shooting low to the net.
The second-half continued at a blistering pace with Kiel extending Derry’s lead before Galway hit four in a row, including two excellent points from Michael Daly to tie the sides at 2-11 apiece after 44 minutes.
Derry hit back with three points in a row and after Galway responded with two, they regained the lead ten minutes from time when Johnny Heaney fisted home a goal to lead by 3-13 to 2-14.
Benny Heron reduced the margin to a point two minutes later but then Galway got a second penalty and Eamonn Brannigan slotted it home to lead by four with five minutes left, with Derry reduced to 14 men when Oisin Hegarty picked up a black card having already been booked.
Galway wrapped it up when Shane Walsh blasted to the net after a dropping ball fell kindly for him, while McGuckin had a penalty saved by Ruairi Lavelle of Galway deep into stoppage time.
Scorers for Galway: Eamonn Brannigan 1-3, Johnny Heaney 1-1, Danny Cummins 1-1, Tom Flynn 1-1, S Walsh 1-1, Michael Daly 0-3, Barry McHugh 0-2 (1 ’45), Gary Sice 0-2 (1f), Gary O’Donnell 0-1
Scorers for Derry: Niall Loughlin 0-5 (2f, 1 ’45), James Kielt 0-5 (3f), Benny Heron 1-2, Emmett McGuckin 1-0, Enda Lynn 0-1, Carlus McWilliams 0-1, Danny Tallon 0-1
1. Rory Lavelle (Renvyle)
19. Luke Burke (Caltra)
3. David Walsh (Killanin)
4. Cathal Sweeney (Killanin)
5. Gary O’Donnell (Tuam Stars)
6. Gareth Bradshaw (Moycullen)
17. Johnny Heaney (Killanin)
8. Paul Conroy (St James’)
9. Fiontán Ó Curraoin (Micheál Breathnach)
25. Gary Sice (Corofin)
10. Tom Flynn (Athenry)
12. Eamonn Brannigan (St Michael’s)
22. Danny Cummins (Claregalway)
11. Michael Daly (Mountbellow/Moylough)
14. Barry McHugh (Mountbellow/Moylough)
13. Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne) for Cummins (50)
15. Michael Lundy (Corofin) for Sice (55)
23. Michael Farragher (Corofin) for Bradshaw (57)
7. Liam Silke (Corofin) for Heaney (70)
21. Finian Hanley (Salthill-Knocknacarra) for Burke (72)
24. Enda Tierney (Oughterard) for Conroy (74)
16. Thomas Mallon (An Lúb)
23. Conor McGrogan (Newbridge)
17. Conor Nevin (Ballinderry)
2. Niall Keenan (Castledawson)
7. Michael McEvoy (Magherafelt)
6. Mark Craig (Dungiven)
5. Neil Forester (Steelstown)
8. Conor McAtamney (Suitreach)
9. James Kielt (Kilrea)
13. Danny Tallon (Glen)
15. Benny Heron (Ballinascreen)
12. Carlus McWilliams (Ballinascreen)
10. Enda Lynn (Greenlough)
11. Emmett McGuckin (Magherafelt)
14. Niall Loughlin (Greenlough)
4. Oisin Hegarty (Glen) for McGrogan (20)
18. Ryan Bell (Ballinderry) for Loughlin (50)
24. Charlie Kielt (Kilrea) for Nevin (50)
21. Peter Hagan (Banagher) for Tallon (66)
22. Jason Rocks (An Lúb) for McAtamney (69, black card)