Derry heroics just too late to save place at top table
Derry turned in their best performance of the league in Pearse Stadium and it came agonisingly close to saving them from the drop.
Manager Damian Cassidy was left lamenting a second half where they failed to drive home their advantage. "We lost our way in the second half and that's ultimately what cost us," said Cassidy after watching his side go scoreless for the opening 19 minutes of that half and kick five wides in the process.
"It was still unclear at the end whether we were up or down but we said going into it to win the game, first and foremost, and win it by as much as we could and see if that would be enough. Ultimately, it wasn't."
One more point would have kept Derry up with Monaghan, who also finished on a points difference of minus 11, surviving by virtue of scoring more in the campaign.
First-half goals from Declan Mullan and Sean Leo McGoldrick were enough to seal the win for Derry who raced into a 2-4 to 0-2 lead after a sluggish opening quarter from the home side.
However, when Joe Bergin spotted the driving run of Garry O'Donnell and the Tuam Stars man rattled the net via the crossbar, the gap was back to six points. But three late frees for the Derry men gave them a 2-9 to 1-4 advantage going in at the break.
With Kernan's harsh words ringing in their ears, the Galway side hit four unanswered points early in the second half. But the threat of relegation seemed to rouse Derry from their post-half-time slumber and points from James Kielt and Raymond Wilkinson sent them clear again.
Scorers -- Galway: N Joyce 0-5 (0-4f), E Concannon 0-3 (0-3f), G O'Donnell 1-0, P Conroy 0-2, J Bergin, M Clancy 0-1 each. Derry: J Kielt 0-5f, D Mullan 1-2, SL McGoldrick 1-1, M Lynch 0-3 (2f), R Wilkinson, J Diver 0-1 each.
Galway -- E O Conghaile; D Burke, F Hanley, D O'Neill; D Meehan, G O'Donnell, G Bradshaw; N Coleman, C Healy; G Sice, F Breathnach, J Bergin; E Concannon, N Joyce, M Clancy. Subs: T Fahy for O'Neill (18 mins); P Conroy for Healy (27); C Bane for Clancy (62); A Burke for Hanley (70).
Derry -- B Gillis; M McGoldrick, D McBride, B Og McAlary; C Kielt, B McGuigan, G O'Kane; F Doherty, P Bradley; SL McGoldrick, J Kielt, R Wilkinson; D Mullan, M Lynch, J Diver. Subs: M Craig for McAlary (43); E Brown for Mullan (57); B McGoldrick for J Kielt (65); B Mullan for C Kielt (68).
Ref -- M Deegan (Laois).