Padraic Joyce's Galway survived a thorough examination of their mettle and their patience to win a claustrophobic All-Ireland semi-final against Derry, booking their place in a first decider for 21 years.

Damien Comer was the outstanding figure in a turgid encounter, registering two vital points when Galway were scrapping for scores in the first half and then drilling home a decisive second half goal to open up a six point gap.

Late on, with Derry labouring to create scores and goalkeeper Odhrán Lynch caught upfield, John Daly manufactured a turnover and fed Liam Silke, the ball was lamped in the direction of the screaming Comer who kept his cool to fire into the empty net from the edge of the D.

It all looked very unlikely in the opening quarter, when it appeared the Connacht champions were being sucked into a nightmarish contest.

The opening half was a 2011 throwback, the match played on the Derry's terms as Galway struggled to find gaps in the Ulster champions' heavily manned defence.

Paul Conroy gets his pass away

Forced into low percentage shots, the westerners' much trumpeted shooting efficiency deserted them in the opening quarter, Paul Conroy and Cillian McDaid blazing early wides.

Rory Gallagher's side - whose stunning momentum had carried them all the way from Division 3 irrelevance at the beginning of the pandemic to a first Ulster title in 24 years this summer - made the early running.

After 12 minutes, they held a 0-03 to 0-00 lead and the game seemed to be going totally in accordance with their manager's script.

With clear scoring opportunities relatively hard to come by for the inside men, it was Brendan Rogers who sallied forward from his nominal berth at full-back to clip two of the opening three scores. Sandwiched between was a fine score from Niall Loughlin, who cut inside from the right with a deadly jink, curling over with his left.

The 68,000-strong crowd - many there primarily for the Tailteann Cup beforehand - generated a heaving atmosphere before throw-in but this fell into a lull as the game settled into its ponderous rhythm.

The Galway contingent, in particular, grew agitated at the developing pattern as their side failed to manufacture scoring chances - and spurned the ones they did.

Wing forward Patrick Kelly should have notched the Connacht champions' opening point, dropping the shoulder to evade a couple of tacklers, eschewing the low-percentage goal chance, he opted to fist a point - but the ball came back off the post and the Derry defenders cleaned up the rebound.

Derry, seemingly more in tune with their gameplan, found gaps easier to come by, Paul Cassidy getting a clear shot at goal but Kieran Molloy diving at full-stretch to snuff out the chance.

However, McGuigan's radar was askew - he blazed an eminently scorable free well wide of the near post - and there was, through it all, a nagging sense that the Ulster champions were failing to properly capitalise on their early superiority.

It wasn't until the 21st minute that Galway had their first score, the ebullient Comer collecting a pass, spinning away from a cluster of tackles and clipping over a left-footed point.

Moments later, they narrowed the gap to a single point, centre-back John Daly finding a rare pot of space in scoring range and, after initially hesitating, he shrugged off an arriving tackler to swing over Galway's second point.

The game's most bizarre moment arrived around the half hour mark. After Comer raided down the left flank, manufacturing a '45 via a blocked shot at goal, Shane Walsh stepped up and slotted the resulting placed ball.

The umpire duly hoisted the white flag, the referee chalked down the score and the game was momentarily level. However, Hawkeye, showing up a curious number of gremlins in recent times, intervened to tell the ref the score was wide. Following the normal protocol, referee Brendan Cawley deferred to the technology, as did the Galway players, who offered up little protest.

At home and on social media, people watched television replays clearly demonstrating the ball was well inside the post. Earlier, Conor Glass had hoisted a skied shot goalwards, the Hawkeye graphic appearing to portray it as just inside the post, the Derry cheers abruptly ceasing when a 'Níl' sign popped up on the screen.

The rest of the half continued with the Walsh point officially ruled out, McGuigan nailing a free to push Derry's lead to two, the increasingly inspirational Comer answering with an excellent point on the swivel after an incisive pass from Daly.

With Derry leading by a point at the break, the technological error was almost the sole topic of discussion in the bowels of the stadium at half-time. After some forceful lobbying from the Galway camp, word filtered through that the scoreboard was to be corrected before the second half commenced.

The technology was stood down for the rest of the game. It remains to be seen whether it will feature for the rest of the season.

And the westerners commenced the second period as if buoyed by amended score and in the third quarter, they made their move.

Walsh had found relatively little joy from play, having been confronted by a heavy thicket of Derry defenders whenever he handled possession. But his expert free-taking and two-footed prowess proved vital to the contest in the early stages of the second half.

Between minute 35 and 45, Galway manufactured three frees, all down the right hand side - the second of them highly contestable - Walsh nailing all three with his left peg, establishing a 0-07 to 0-04 lead, a significant advantage in so cagey a contest.

And on 46 minutes arrived the game's pivotal score, Daly poking an inviting pass in front of Comer, the full-forward spinning past Rogers, who slipped, and drilling a low shot past Lynch at the near post. Suddenly the result felt like an inevitability.

Johnny Heaney should have added a second goal as Conroy's skied effort was flapped at by Lynch - in the square but the wing-forward's slapped attempt went over - rather than under - the crossbar.

Derry, so energetic early on, failed to land a shot in the second half, caught in the spider's web of Galway's smother defence. The Connacht champions, now with a substantial cushion, were content to play down the clock in a low-energy finale.

Goalkeeper Lynch's saunters upfield had been a trademark of Derry's season but it was one of them gone awry that definitively ended their hopes of a first All-Ireland final since 1993.

Daly stripped Glass of possession on the Galway '45, fed the ball to Liam Silke, who only had Comer and Rogers in front of him, the sole players in the Derry half.

Comer, sitting behind his marker, waved frantically like a drowning man, and the ball was booted in his direction. With Rogers struggling for his bearings, the Galway full-forward came screaming onto the pass, stepped around in an arc and coolly curled the ball into the empty net from 30 yards.

Galway boss Joyce celebrates at the final whistle

The Galway crowd exploded in gleeful euphoria, a first All-Ireland final appearance in two decades now a certainty.

They shipped their characteristic late goal, Lachlann Murray bustling through a few weak tackles to force home a consolation but there was none of the quarter-final drama this time around.

And so Derry's 2022 journey ended on a bum note, with their second defeat of the year - both against Galway. Gallagher joked afterwards that he considered resigning before the match due to his wretched record against the Tribesmen, stretching back to 1998.

As in '98 and 2001, Galway overcome Derry to reach the All-Ireland final. Having contested - and won - the first All-Ireland final of the qualifier era, they have now sealed their place in the last.

Derry: Odhran Lynch; Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers (0-02), Conor McCluskey; Conor Doherty, Gareth McKinless, Padraig McGrogan; Conor Glass, Emmet Bradley; Paul Cassidy, Shea Downey, Ethan Doherty; Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan (0-03, 2f), Niall Loughlin (0-01).

Subs: Emmet Bradley for Downey (44), Lachlann Murray (1-00) for Toner (56) Ben McCarron for Heron (60)

Galway: Conor Gleeson; Liam Silke, Sean Kelly, Jack Glynn; Dylan McHugh, John Daly (0-01), Kieran Molloy; Paul Conroy, Cillian McDaid; Patrick Kelly, Matthew Tierney, Johnny Heaney (0-01); Robert Finnerty, Damien Comer (2-02), Shane Walsh (0-04, 3f, 1 '45).

Subs: Finian O'Laoi for McHugh (60), Billy Mannion for Comer (67), Dessie Conneely for Finnerty (67), Paul Kelly for Kelly (72).

Referee: Brendan Cawley