Derry dug deep at Croke Park this afternoon to overcome the challenge of Westmeath and advance to the semi-finals of the All-Ireland SFC.

First half goals from Paddy Bradley and Enda Muldoon proved crucial, as Westmeath were left to rue a series of missed chances.

Muldoon scored one goal and six points in his side's 2-09 to 0-13 victory.

The Oak Leaf county earned their first semi-final berth since 2001 as Muldoon and then Paddy Bradley, fit again after a foot injury, helped themselves to a critical 2-02 in a ten minute spell before half time.

Bradley's goal helped the Ulster side establish a four-point lead which they held until the break.

Derry exposed Westmeath's reliance on the placed ball accuracy of Dessie Dolan and Páidí Ó Sé saw his rearguard undone by simple Derry attacks.

Muldoon's second free on 15 minutes ended a scoring drought for Derry, and five minutes later they were celebrating a four-point advantage as Bradley cracked a crisp left-foot shot beyond Gary Connaughton and into the Westmeath net.

Glennon and Wilson traded scores with Muldoon and Bradley, before Dolan made it a one-point game with a free on 29 minutes.

Muldoon took a superb catch over John Keane and Damien Healy to race through and blast past Connaughton for a 2-04 to 0-06 lead.

The second half saw Mickey Moran's side outscored five to one before Alan Mangan pointed on the hour mark to level the sides for just the second time.

Substitutes Joe Fallon and Gary Dolan galvanised the Lake county attack and added three points. 

Dessie Dolan, who grabbed 0-05 in all, put Paidi O Se's side in front two minutes later, but a trio of scores from substitute Eamonn Burke and two from Man of the Match Muldoon saw Derry remain in the hunt for a first title since 1993.

Afterwards Muldoon commented: "Nobody gave us a chance coming down here. But we had beaten good up-and-coming sides in the qualifiers. We were happy to get a run out at Croke Park but we've got good, solid players and deserved to come through today."

Westmeath: G Connaughton, J Davitt, D O'Donoghue, J Keane, M Ennis, D Healy, G Heavin, R O'Connell, D O'Shaughnessy, B Morley, P Conway, F Wilson, A Mangan, D Glennon, D Dolan. Subs used: J Fallon for Wilson (36 mins), S Colleary for Morley (45), G Dolan for Conway (50)

Derry: B Gillis, K McGuckin, N McCusker, SM Lockhart, Francis McEldowney, P McFlynn, P Kelly, F Doherty, Patsy Bradley, J Donaghy, J McBride, C Moran, J Bradley, Paddy Bradley, E Muldoon. Subs used: G Donaghy for Moran (55 mins), E Burke for J Bradley (58), C Gilligan for McBride (61), G O’Kane for McCusker (63)

Filed by Barry McEneaney