Derry survived a second-half comeback by 14-man Down as Eoin Bradley tapped over an injury-time free to snatch a 0-12 to 0-11 Ulster SFC victory at Celtic Park yesterday.
The home side took their foot off the gas when they led by 0-10 to 0-6 after 41 minutes after Down sweeper Conall McGovern had picked up a straight red card at the start of the second half.
Down played their best football when reduced to 14 men, with Conor Laverty pulling the strings and Mark Poland picking up a number of fouls which Paul Devlin converted.
Laverty pulled the strings and orchestrated for Down but they were left to regret seven second-half wides in a dramatic finish.
Derry sub Caolan O'Boyle ended a 21-minute scoring drought with a fisted point after good work by Eoin Bradley and Kevin Johnston to put a nervous home team back in front with nine minutes remaining.
Paul Devlin hit his sixth free of the afternoon to bring Down level again after 67 minutes and the game was in the melting pot at 0-11 apiece.
Derry worked one last move, with Eoin Bradley releasing Kevin Johnston close to goal. He was dragged down by Darren O'Hagan, who picked up a black card, and Bradley tapped over a close-range free as Derry stumbled over the line and into an Ulster semi-final against Armagh or Donegal.
Scorers - Derry: M Lynch 0-05 (2f), E Bradley 0-05 (3f), E Lynn 0-01, C O'Boyle 0-01. Down: P Devlin 0-06 (6f), C Laverty, K McKernan 0-02 each, D O'Hare 0-01 (f).
DeRRY: T Mallon; O Duffy, B Rogers, D McBride; K Johnston, C McKaigue, C McFaul; N Holly, F Doherty; SL McGoldrick, M Lynch (0-5, 2f), E Lynn (0-1); B Heron, E Bradley (0-5, 3f), D Heavron. Subs: C O'Boyle (0-1) for Heron (53), T O'Brien for Lynn (63)
DOWN: S Kane; D O'Hagan, L Howard, R Boyle; D Turley, B McArdle, C McGovern; P Fitzpatrick, C Mooney; P Devlin (0-6, 6f), C Maginn, K McKernan (0-2); M Poland, C Laverty (0-2), D O'Hare (0-1, f). Subs: P Downey for Maginn (48), J Johnston for Fitzpatrick (60), A McConville for Mooney (66), N Madine for Devlin (69), D O'Hanlon for O'Hagan (BC, 70)