Sucker-punch from Kelly denies Derry
Down 3-11 Derry 1-14
A fighting finish by Down snatched the title from Derry at Casement Park on Saturday, with Ryan Kelly's goal on the hour being the decisive score for the Mournesiders.
This was a superb battle to the wire, with the teams being level on eight occasions and the action looking to be heading for a replay before Kelly connected with a centre by Packie Downey to fist the ball home.
"It was even exciting playing the game," enthused Down captain James Colgan. "Derry showed great fight in the second half and, for a while, I didn't know what way it was going to go."
Despite playing against a stiff wind in the first half, Down went in at the break 2-5 to 0-8 ahead, with Paul McComiskey rifling the ball to the roof of the Derry net right on the stroke of half-time.
A shock goal by Sean Leo McGoldrick in the 38th minute and a point by Paul
McVey surged Derry back into the lead against the wind, and they went two points up before Cathal Magee and McComiskey (free) levelled the action again on 51 minutes.
Then came that storming finish by Down which saw Kelly climb highest to punch into the net, giving Down the title after a thrilling battle.
SCORERS -- Down: P McComiskey 1-4 (3f), R Kelly 1-1, C Garvey 1-0, J Kernan, C Brannigan (1f) 0-2 each, C Magee, T Hanna 0-1 each. Derry: C McKaigue, J Kielt (2f) 0-3 each, SL McGoldrick 1-0, E Brown 0-2 (2f), M Craig, B Gormley, P McWilliams , E Lynn , P McVey 0-1 each.
DOWN -- M McAlister; M Digney, C Murney, J Murphy; C Garvey, K Duffin, THanna; J Colgan, J Caldwell; C McGinn, K McKernan, P McCumiskey; C Brannigan, C Magee, R Kelly Subs: C Killen for McKernan (53), P Downey for Magee (53), B Rooney for Hanna (59)
DERRY -- M O'Neill; D Bell, N Holly, M McShane; B Og McAlary, C McKaigue, D McBride; M Craig, B Gormley ; J Kielt , R Kealey, SL McGoldrick; P McWilliams, E Lynn, E Brown Subs: N McNicholl for Kealey (51), P McVeyfor McWilliams (h-t)
REF -- R O'Donnell (Donegal)