Derry recovered from a slow start to beat Leitrim in a high-scoring Allianz Football League Division 4 final at Croke Park.
Appearing at GAA headquarters for the first time in 13 years, Leitrim opened brightly to lead by 0-7 to 0-4 after 23 minutes, but that was as good as it got for their huge travelling support as Derry reeled off six points without reply to lead at the break, and they never looked like losing after that as points from Shane McGuigan, Enda Lynn and Ryan Bell helped them to their second victory over Terry Hyland's men in a matter of weeks. It was a first Division 4 title for the Oak Leafers, who are more accustomed to playing in the higher echelons of the Allianz League.
Leitrim had no answer to Slaughtneil man McGuigan, who posted 0-6, including 0-4 from play, while they were also undermined by nine first half wides. With the wind behind them in the opening half, they opened the scoring through Dean McGovern, but Derry hit back to lead by 0-3 to 0-2 after five minutes thanks to Ryan Bell's second point.
The Connacht side then enjoyed their best spell which yielded four unanswered points, including two from Ryan O'Rourke, to lead by 0-6 to 0-3 at the end of the first quarter. Christopher Bradley and Ray Mulvey traded points before the winners took control with a succession of scores from Lynn, Bell, McGuigan and Emmet Bradley to take a 0-10 to 0-7 lead into the break.
Emlyn Mulligan narrowed the gap immediately after the restart, but Damian McErlain's men were too strong as they pushed out their lead to six points, 0-16 to 0-10, for the first time.
Mark Plunkett ended an 11-minute scoring drought for Leitrim, but that was cancelled out by a Chrissy McKaigue point as the Oak Leafers ran out winners.
Derry - T Mallon; K McKaigue, B Rogers, P McNeill; M McEvoy, C McKaigue (0-2), N Keenan; E Bradley (0-2), C McAtamney; P Cassidy (0-1), E Lynn (0-2), C Doherty; S McGuigan (0-6, 1f, 1m), R Bell (0-4, 1f), C Bradley (0-2, 1f). Subs: B Heron for E Lynn, N Toner (0-1) for R Bell, J Rocks for C Doherty, E McGill for K McKaigue, R Dougan for C Bradley.
Leitrim - C McCrann; A Flynn, M McWeeney (0-1), P Maguire (0-1); R Mulvey (0-1), S McWeeney, C McGloin; M Plunkett (0-1), S Moran (0-1); S Quinn, R O’Rourke (0-6, 4f), D McGovern (0-1); D Flynn (0-1f), E Mulligan (0-1), E Sweeney (0-2, 1m). Subs: P Dolan for C McGloin, D Rooney for E Mulligan, D Moran for S Moran, C Reynolds for A Flynn, J Heslin for D Flynn.
Referee - B Cawley.Tweet