The Derry players leaving the pitch in Carrick on Shannon after securing a spot in Division 2 for next season. (Pic: Willie Donnellan)
ALLIANZ NFL DIVISION 3 SEMI-FINAL
Derry are promoted back to Division 2 for the first time since 2017 after victory over Limerick in Carrick on Shannon.
Shane McGuigan, on his 30th senior appearance for Derry, kicked six points on an afternoon when Derry did enough to win without showing the devastating performances that saw them race out of the blocks earlier in the campaign.
Billy Lee's side set up to frustrate Derry's attacking plans and while they led on a couple of occasions, Rory Gallagher's side were the superior team and always looked in control.
The sides were level five times in a cagey opening quarter. Conor Doherty opened the scoring after an early McGuigan wide.
Limerick levelled with the first of four first-half points from Hugh Bourke before Cillian Fahey put Billy Lee's side in front.
It was a game of patience around the midfield sector with a litany of short passing. Gareth McKinless, Benny Heron and Ciaran McFaul did make runs from deep.
With the sides level at 0-3 each, Niall Loughlin was denied by Limerick goalkeeper Donal O'Sullivan before Robbie Burke pointed at the end of a counter-attack.
Just before the water break, Emmett Bradley was sent to the sin-bin, but Derry were able to take the sting of the game and nearly had a goal again through Loughlin who was denied by O'Sullivan.
The pick of the Derry points from a Shane McGuigan effort after McFaul stormed forward from defence.
Heron and McGuigan (free) had Derry three points clear, but Limerick finished the half with a bang. Danny Neville got himself off the mark before a long kick-out over the top of midfield saw the Munster men win a free, cutting the gap to a point, 0-8 to 0-7, at the break.
McGuigan and Hugh Bourke traded points at the start of the second half before Derry hit a three-minute patch that effectively won the game.
Paul Cassidy, Niall Loughlin and McGuigan had the ball over the bar three times in as many minutes to push Rory Gallagher's side 0-12 to 0-8 ahead after 47 minutes.
Limerick had a half goal chance when Bourke was blocked by Paul Cassidy before the Limerick talisman grabbed the rebound, but his shot went over off the bar.
Derry were 0-14 to 0-10 ahead at the second water break before the game petered out in the final quarter. Derry tagged on scores to keep them on the safe side of the lead, with Limerick substitute drilling over three frees from the ground.
The Oakleafers did had a gimmer of a goal chance, but after Benny Heron's wayward fisted cross, Paul McNeill gained possession and fisted over the bar.
Derry will now play the winners of Down and Donegal in the Ulster SFC Quarter-Final on Sunday, July 11.
Monday's Derry News and Tuesday's County Derry Post will have full coverage from Saturday's win in Carrick on Shannon.
DERRY: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Paul McNeill (0-1), Paudi McGrogan, Padraig Cassidy, Gareth McKinless, Conor Doherty (0-1), Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Ethan Doherty, Niall Loughlin (0-2, 1f), Ciaran McFaul (0-1); Benny Heron (0-3), Shane McGuigan (0-6, 5f), Paul Cassidy (0-1)
SUBS: Niall Toner (0-2) for Paul Cassidy (55), Conor McCluskey for Padraig Cassidy (61), Oisin McWilliams for B Heron (68), Michael McEvoy for C Doherty (72), Jack Doherty for N Loughlin (74)
SIN-BIN: E Bradley (17)
YELLOW CARD: C McFaul (71)
LIMERICK: Donal Ó Sullivan; Sean O’Dea, Brian Fanning, Michael Donovan; Robert Childs, Iain Corbett, Gordon Brown; Darragh Treacy, Tommie Childs; Tommy Griffin Robbie Burke (0-1), Adrian Enright; Danny Neville (0-1), Cillian Fahy (0-1), Hugh Bourke (0-7, 4f)
SUBS: Cian Sheehan for T Griffin (INJ 29), Paul Maher for R Childs (45), Seamus O'Carroll for A Enright (51), Josh Ryan (0-3f) for R Burke (55), Killian Ryan for T Childs (62), Peter Nash for G Brown (62)
REF: Noel Mooney (Cavan)
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