Derry assured themselves of promotion from Division Four of the National Football League when registering their fifth successive win of their campaign over Limerick at a wet and breezy Gaelic Grounds this afternoon.
Despite conceding a soft early goal, there was only one team in it once Chrissy McKaigue and Ciarán McFaul took over midfield and starved their opponents of useful possession after they failed to build on their early lead.
Excellent marksmanship from their two corner-forwards gave the visitors an edge in finishing their opponents couldn’t match and the six points in a row from Christopher Bradley either side of half-time set themselves up for victory.
Limerick’s chances of responding after falling behind early in the second-half took a knock when they were reduced to fourteen as the extra man allowed Derry to double-mark the home side’s target man Pat Begley whose height at the edge of the square had proved an effective weapon in previous rounds.
Séamus O’Carroll missed a free to open the scoring but collected the kick-out to split the posts and Limerick took off when Colm McSweeney’s long delivery into the square floated over Thomas Mallon’s head into the top corner of the net.
However, chances missed to extend their lead cost them when McFaul got Derry off the mark and they could have equalised when Bradley pounced on a defensive error but his shot crashed off the crossbar.
With Chrissy McKaigue and McFaul dominating the middle, Limerick’s defence held out until Bradley pointed under pressure from out on the right. That was followed by Jamie Lee and Bradley swapping frees before Cillian Fahy and Peter Nash moved the gap back to three.
However, Bradley sent over his fourth in injury time to narrow the gap to 1-4 to 0-5. Bradley’s point from play and follow-up free equalized within minutes of the restart before long shots from sub Ryan Bell and McFaul put the Ulstermen in front. The home team’s prospects dimmed further when Pádraig de Brún walked off a straight red before Shane McGuigan.
Limerick failed to score as Derry drew their breath and fell further behind when McGuigan struck twice from distance.
Limerick finally found a second-half score when Lee pointed five minutes from time but Karl McKaigue answered it to keep Derry’s margin at five.
DerrY: Thomas Mallon, Karl McKaigue (0-01), Michael McEvoy, Paul McNeill; Eoghan Concannon, Éamonn McGill, Jason Rocks; Chrissy McKaigue, Ciarán McFaul (0-02); Declan Hughes, Conor McAtamney, Pádraig Cassidy; Christopher Bradley (0-06, 0-02f), Ryan Dougan, Shane McGuigan(0-03).
Subs: Ryan Bell (0-01) for Declan Hughes (ht), Enda Lynn forRyan Dougan (ht), Seán Francis Quinn for Éamonn McGill (42), PatrickConey for Eoghan Concannon (65), Niall Keenan for Christopher Bradley(65).
Limerick: Donal O’Sullivan; Seán O’Dea, Garett Noonan, Paul Maher; Colm McSweeney (1-00), Iain Corbett, Gordon Browne; Darragh Treacy,Tommy Childs; Peter Nash (0-01), Jamie Lee (0-02, 0-01f), Adrian Enright; Cillian Fahy (0-01), Pa Begley, Séamus O’Carroll (0-01).
Subs: Pádraig de Brún for Adrian Enright (ht), Brian Donovan for Peter Nash (45),Jim Liston for Colm McSweeney (55), Mike Fitzgibbon for Séamus O’Carroll (55), Ronan Lynch for Tommy Childs (62).
Referee: Barry Judge (Sligo).