Galway returned to Division 1 in style after an 11-point hammering of a previously unbeaten Derry side at Owenbeg.

With Derry winning the toss and electing to play against the stiff breeze, Galway made them pay a heavy price, running in three first-half goals and making the second half immaterial with a breathtaking opening 35 minutes.

Goals from the brilliant Matthew Tierney, Damien Comer and Dessie Conneely saw the Tribe lead 3-08 to 0-04 and even a second-half red card for Paul Conroy, as well as a black card for Owen Gallagher, made little difference to the scoreboard.

Derry eventually finished with 13 men after a second-half red card for Gareth McKinless which rules him out of next week's trip to Navan, while Ciaran McFaul was also shown a late black card.

Those were mere footnotes as Padraic Joyce's Tribesmen strolled over the promotion finish line with one game to spare ahead of next weekend's trip to Roscommon.

Derry's two changes from the draw in Dr Hyde Park last week were enforced.

An injury to Conor McCluskey meant a start for Lachlan Murray while Shane McGuigan's controversial suspension meant Ciaran McFaul, who was introduced off the bench against Roscommon, returned.

Galway also made two changes from the side that defeated Clare.

Captain Sean Kelly and Conneely came into the starting 15 with former Antrim player, Gallagher, and Shane Walsh dropping to the bench.

Tempers flared in the second half

If the setting was picturesque for a game tantamount to a promotion play-off, a stiff breeze blowing straight down the Ownebeg pitch was always going to play a major role in proceedings with Galway using the elements to its full effect in the opening half.

Derry, who won the toss, were camped inside their own 45 for most for the first 35 minutes. Galway were able to press the Derry kick-out in numbers, forcing turnovers and sowing doubt in the home defence.

It paid major dividends as Galway ripped through a Derry defence that hadn't conceded a goal in five previous league games to hit a trio of first half goals en route to a 3-08 to 0-04 half-time lead.

Points from Paul Conroy and Dessie Conneely (free) had Galway two in front before Brendan Rogers was caught in possession wide on the home left.

He looked to have been fouled but Galway weren't hanging about for a whistle as Comer made his way down the wing, the ball eventually falling to Tierney who fisted home at the back post for 1-03 to 0-01 after nine minutes.

A second goal arrived on 22 minutes, with Comer lurking at the back post to apply a clinical finish across Odhran Lynch, 2-05 to 0-02.

Bad became worse two minute from the half-time whistle when Derry were again turned over on their own kick-out. Cillian McDaid and Paul Kelly swapped passes before the former sent Conneely away to fire a low finish into an overworked Derry net.

Derry needed a quick restart but instead Galway had the ball in the Derry net once more as Johnny's Heaney driving run and shot from the left was blocked, but the ball broke across goal where it found substitute Tomo Culhane to score with his first touch, 4-08 to 0-05.

The second half was simply Galway game management with even a black card for substitute Gallagher and that straight red card for Conroy - after he caught Oisin McWilliams - failing to trouble to the Tribemen's procession back to Division One.

Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Padraig McGrogan, Gareth McKinless, Conor Doherty, Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley (0-03, 2f), Ethan Doherty, Oisin McWilliams, Ciaran McFaul (0-03), Benny Heron, Niall Loughlin (0-03f), Paul Cassidy (0-01), Lachlan Murray (0-01).

Subs: Padraig Cassidy for Conor Doherty (46), Niall Toner (0-1) for B Heron (46), Conor McCluskey for L Murray (59), Shea Downey for O McWilliams (67), Ben McCarron for E Doherty (73).

Galway: Conor Flaherty, Jack Glynn, Kieran Molloy, Liam Silke, Dylan McHugh, John Daly, Cillian McDaid (0-01), Paul Kelly, Paul Conroy (0-03), Matthew Tierney (1-3, 0-1f), Sean Kelly, Johnny Heaney (0-01), Robert Finnerty, Damien Comer (1-01), Dessie Conneely (1-02, 0-01f).

Subs: Owen Gallagher for R Finnerty (ht), Tomo Culhane (1-00) for D Comer (38), Johnny McGrath for J Glynn (48), Niall Daly for P Kelly (57), Tony Gill for D Conneely (70), Sean Fitzgerald for S Kelly (70, blood).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)