Galway's fate in their hands after fine finish
Galway 5-15 Derry 2-15
Galway manager Kevin Walsh is taking nothing for granted, even if the Tribesmen have their fate in their own hands as they bid to end six seasons out of the top flight.
They came from six points down before the interval to produce a big performance in the final quarter and see off a brave Derry side who badly missed their Slaughtneil contingent, not least in defence.
Walsh will now take his men to Newry to face Down and then entertain leaders Kildare in the final game, knowing that two wins will see them promoted and one may be enough.
"We have our fate in our hands at this stage, but others will feel they have it within their own grasp as well, so there is a fair to bit to go yet. Everyone has got chopped at some stage, but that's what the league is all about as well, how you respond to that," he said.
His men looked to be in trouble when they trailed by six points approaching half-time, after Benny Heron and Emmett McGuckin got goals for Derry and Galway full-forward Barry McHugh had a penalty saved by Thomas Mallon in between.
But Galway, having started well with a third-minute goal from Danny Cummins, struck a huge blow before the interval when Tom Flynn went through for an excellent goal to leave it 2-10 to 2-7 at the end of a great opening period.
James Kielt extended the Derry lead after the restart, with the pace of proceedings not dropping, and it was newcomer Michael Daly - a son of former Galway star Val - who led the fightback for the Tribesmen, as they drew level with four points on the trot. Derry responded with three unanswered scores to lead by 2-14 to 2-11 going into the final quarter.
Galway took over from there and never looked back once Johnny Heaney fisted a 60th-minute goal. Derry lost Oisin Hegarty, already booked, to a black card and Eamonn Brannigan made the points safe for Galway from the resulting penalty.
Sub Shane Walsh got Galway's fifth goal and then Ruairi Lavelle superbly saved a late penalty from McGuckin to leave Derry in deep relegation trouble.
Scorers - Galway: E Brannigan 1-3 (1-0 pen); J Heaney, D Cummins, T Flynn & S Walsh 1-1 each; M Daly 0-3; B McHugh (0-1 '45) & G Sice (0-1f) 0-2 each; G O'Donnell 0-1. Derry: N Loughlin (0-2f, 0-1 '45) & J Kielt (0-3f) 0-5 each; B Heron 1-2; E McGuckin 1-0; E Lynn, C McWilliams & D Tallon 0-1 each.
Galway - R Lavelle 8; L Burke 7, D Walsh 6, C Sweeney 6; G O'Donnell 8, G Bradshaw 7, J Heaney 8; P Conroy 7, F Ó Curraoin 6; G Sice 6, T Flynn 8, E Brannigan 7; D Cummins 7, M Daly 8, B McHugh 7. Subs: S Walsh 8 for Cummins (50), M Lundy 7 for Sice (55), M Farragher 7 for Bradshaw (57), L Silke 6 for Heaney (70), F Hanley 6 for Burke (72), E Tierney 6 for Conroy (74).
Derry - T Mallon 7; C McGrogan 5, C Nevin 6, N Keenan 7; M McEvoy 5, M Craig 6, N Forester 6; C McAtamney 6, J Kielt 8; D Tallon 7, B Heron 8, C McWilliams 7; E Lynn 7, E McGuckin 7, N Loughlin 8. Subs: O Hegarty 6 for McGrogan (20), R Bell 6 for Loughlin (50), C Kielt 6 for Nevin (50), P Hagan 6 for Tallon (66), J Rocks 6 for McAtamney (69, black card).
Ref - R Hickey (Clare)