Derry 0-11 Clare 1-08

Derry twice fought back from a point down in the closing minutes to rescue a merited draw against Clare in the Allianz Football League Division 2 encounter at Celtic Park.

James Kielt stepped forward and secured an equaliser in the sixth minute of injury time, levelling the scores for the seventh time in this Allianz Football League Division Two opener.

Ciaran Russell thought he'd won it for the visitors when he nudged them ahead deep into the five minutes of allotted stoppage time, but there was still time for Kielt to salvage a point for an inexperienced Derry line-up.

Jamie Malone's goal for Clare after 43 minutes looked like a decisive score in a tight game but Derry battled hard to take something from the game.

Clare, last year's Division Three champions, finished with 14 players having used all six substitutes by the time Dean Ryan picked up their third black card in the 70th minute.

All Star nominated footballer Gary Brennan started for the Banner, less than 24 hours after starring for Ballyea in their All-Ireland club semi-final win over St Thomas, and he had a big impact, setting up numerous scores.

In contrast, Derry were missing their Slaughtneil contingent and started with four league debutants in defence.

In a low intensity first half, there were more wides than points as both forward lines struggled to turn possession into scores.

Enda Lynn continued his good pre-season form with a point from play off each foot to put Derry two points ahead.

Ciaran Russell and Eoin Cleary (free) levelled it up for the visitors.

James Kielt kicked the first of his two first-half points from play with Carlus McWilliams tagging on another to restore Derry's two-point advantage.

Liam Markham and then Sean Collins' long-range point tied the scores again and Cleary's free put Clare ahead briefly for the only time.

Both first-half goal chances fell to Clare; Sean Collins' tame shot was easily saved by Thomas Mallon and later, Jamie Malone saw his strong shot low fly wide of the far post.

Mark Lynch uncharacteristically missed three frees for Derry, though two them were from difficult angles, with the home side struggling to convert possession into scores.

Kielt and McWilliams were on target for the second time to nudge Damian Barton's side ahead 0-06 to 0-05 at the break.

Malone palmed the ball into an empty net for the only goal of the game after Shane Brennan drew the 'keeper and slipped the ball across for a simple finish.

That put Clare 1-05 to 0-06 in front.

Derry struggled to convert placed balls with Mark Lynch and Niall Loughlin missing several chances but the pair did both convert to draw Derry level.

David Tubridy and Russell both thought they'd done enough to clinch it for Clare in the closing minutes but Derry dug deep to take something from the game.

Scorers for Derry – J Kielt 0-04 (1f), C McWilliams 0-02, N Loughlin 0-02 (one '45'), E Lynn 0-02, M Lynch 0-01 (f)

Scorers for Clare – J Malone 1-00, E Cleary 0-03 (3f), C Russell 0-02, S Collins, L Markham, D Tubridy 0-01 each

Derry: T Mallon; N Keenan, C Nevin, R Murphy; N Forrester, M McEvoy, P Hagan C McAtamney, J Kielt; E Lynn, N Loughlin, C McWilliams; M Lynch, E McGuckin, B Heron

Subs: D Tallon for Heron (27), G O'Neill for McAtamney (55), J Doherty for Hagan (60), O Hegarty for Nevin (70)

Clare: J Hayes; M McMahon, J Hayes, D Ryan; L Markham, G Kelly, C O'Dea; G Brennan, C Russell; J Malone, S Collins, S Brennan; E Cleary, D Tubridy, K Sexton

Subs: D Nagle for O'Dea (49), E Collins for Nagle (BC, 55), S Malone for Sexton (60), SMcGrath for Collins (60), G O'Brien for McMahon (BC, 62), D Egan for Brennan (68)

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

NEXT WEEK: Derry head south to Navan for a 3pm clash with Meath on Sunday, Clare face another Ulster side as they welcome Down to Ennis at 2pm.