Derry 0-14 Donegal 0-10
Donegal failed to get the win needed to save them from relegation to NFL Division 2 as neighbours Derry collected a deserved four-point victory at Maghera.
Donegal required a final day win to avoid joining bottom side Westmeath. But with fellow strugglers Dublin enjoying a big win over Westmeath, Donegal crucially lost out in an entertaining Ulster derby.
The win has qualified Derry for their second successive Division 1 final and they will face Kerry in a repeat of last year's decider. The Oak Leafers won that game by 2-13 to 2-9.
In this afternoon's clash, the returning Mark Lynch was in influential form as Derry built up a 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead.
The sides were level at 0-3 apiece after an enterprising first quarter-hour. Michael Maguire landed Donegal's first point after just
25 seconds, but Barry McGoldrick levelled for Derry with a quick free.
Lynch created a point for Seamus Bradley and Donegal were able to move
0-3 to 0-2 ahead, through Michael Doherty and Rory Kavanagh, before Eoin Bradley replied for the champions with a free.
With Christy Toye and Brendan Boyle impressing for the Tir Chonaill men in centre-field, the visitors took a 0-4 to 0-3 lead. Kavanagh produced an excellent catch to tee up a Brian Roper point.
Roper was on target again soon after, but efforts from Eoin Bradley, Enda Lynn and Lynch gave Derry the edge at the break.
Both sides played better football on the resumption and Derry foraged into a 0-10 to 0-6 lead with points from James Kielt (2), Lynch (free) and defender Brian Og McAlary.
Donegal boss John Joe Doherty threw caution to the wind and introduced Brendan Devenney and Kevin Cassidy into the fray.
Devenney, who recently agreed to rejoin the county panel, looked threatening but Derry brought on Sean Marty Lockhart to do a man-marking job on him and he was largely kept quiet.
Devenney and free-taker Doherty did manage to cut the gap to 0-12 to 0-9 and Derry had to survive a freakish moment when a ball in from Toye hit the woodwork and bounced over the bar via Brendan Boyle's head.
Enda Muldoon began to stamp his authority on the game, hoovering up the ball around midfield and popping over the game's final point.
Derry looked good but they will need to find an extra gear or two for the April 26 final against Kerry