Conor Glass' long-awaited senior debut capped a fine return to action for Rory Gallagher's Derry, who scored a fully-deserved eight-point victory over Longford at Celtic Park on Saturday.
The win keeps alive the Oak Leafers slim hopes of promotion but Gallagher's focus will have already shifted to the Ulster Championship clash with Armagh on November 1st and the re-introduction is a huge boost to that end
Glass, who spent five years with Hawthorn in the AFL, only rejoined the Derry squad on Wednesday night but emerged off the bench in 20 minutes to help Derry across the line for two points that moves Gallagher's up to third in the table.
Goals from Patrick Kearney and Paul Cassidy capped an excellent display that, while not perfect, showed a much more controlled Derry able to dictate the game in critical stages.
Longford set up defensively, aiming to frustrate the Oak Leafers into squandering possession but Gallagher's revamped Derry side were disciplined and patient in possession, working a number of excellent openings in a highly encouraging first 70 minutes.
Kearney's goal encapsulated the first half display. With Longford leaving only one forward inside the Derry half, the Oak Leafers were facing a packed '45' but maintained possession for close to two full minutes, patiently probing for a break.
It eventually arrived courtesy of Padraig Cassidy who burst past his marker wide out along the left touchline. Accelerating into space, Cassidy drew the cover before finding Lynn inside him. In a flash, Lynn had spotted the perfectly timed run of Kearney. Through but still 20 yards from goal, there was nothing else on Kearney's mind as he fired a lovely low finish into the Longford net to leave it 1-07 to 0-03.
Liam Connerton tagged a point back for Longford but Derry fully deserved their commanding interval lead.
Longford were making little impact in an attacking sense, a full 12 minutes elapsing before their first shot of note but they eventually got on the scoreboard on 17 minutes through a Darren Gallagher free.
Derry responded through a Lynn point but Longford looked to have regrouped after the water break as points from Rian Brady and Dessie Reynolds left it only 0-5 to 0-3 with 23 minutes on the clock.
There was no panic though. Derry simply regathered themselves and produced the most impressive period of the game, hitting 1-02 without replay, points from Conor Doherty and McFaul preceding Kearney's goal to leave it a long way back for Padriac Davis' Longford team.
That gap was bridged considerably in the opening minutes of the second half and Longford re-emerged with the bit between their teeth, points from Colm P Smyth and a free from Rian Brady closing the deficit to 1-07 to 0-6.
The second half water break arrived with Glass appearing afterwards but it was another substitute, Bellaghy's Paul Cassidy, who finally put the game to bed with an opportunistic goal, reacting superbly when Loughlin's pointed effort struck the upright to turn, and fire a low finish into the Longford net.
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Paul McNeill, Brendan Rogers (0-01), Conor Doherty (0-01), Carlus McWilliams, Christopher McKaigue (0-01), Michael McEvoy, Ciaran McFaul (0-02), Padriag Cassidy (0-01), Ethan Doherty, Enda Lynn (0-01), Danny Tallon, Patrick Kearney (1-00), Shane McGuigan (0-02, 1f), Niall Loughlin (0-02, 1f).
Subs: Paul Cassidy (1-01) for P Kearney, 52mins; Conor Glass for C McWilliams, 55mins; Oisin McWilliams (0-01) for M McEvoy, 60mins; Gavin O'Neill for D Tallon (0-01), 68mins
Longford: Paddy Collum, Patrick Fox, Andrew Farrell, Barry O'Farrell, Colm P Smyth (0-02), Gary Rogers, Liam Hughes, Darren Gallagher (0-02, 2f), Kevin Diffley, Donal McElligott, Daniel Mimnagh, Dessie Reynolds (0-01), Rian Brady (0-04, 2f), Liam Connerton (0-01), Oran Kenny.
Subs: Joseph Hagan (0-01) for M Minmagh, 44mins; Daragh Doherty (0-01) for L Hughes, 48mins; Robbie Smyth for O Kenny, 65mins; Larry Moran for R Brady, 68mins;