The Oak Leafers led by four points midway through the second half. As the 70 minutes elapsed, they were still ahead by two, but Louth fought back, with late scores from Brian White and Darren Clarke.
It was no more than they deserved after a first half when the sides were level nine times. Louth’s third-last point from Jim McEneaney looked wide but Derry still could have held on.
“A couple of decisions were major turning points,” said Brennan. “To award something as wide as that as a point [by McEneaney] is not right. But we also made some rash decisions in the last five minutes, silly things which cost us dearly.
“When we were four up, we should have been cute enough to play that out. Now we go to Westmeath needing a result but we’re capable of getting it.”
Peter Fitzpatrick was jubilant after his side’s late heroics: “Not too many people gave us a chance coming to Celtic Park today but we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance. There’s four or five teams fighting to stay in Division 2. If we can stay in Division 2, it will be a fantastic season for us.”
Louth’s scorer-in-chief Darren Clarke grabbed a goal after Ronan Carroll ran straight through the middle. Clarke composed himself, dummied the keeper and tapped it home.
The teams traded points and were level nine times in the first half. No surprise, then, that they went in level at 1-8 to 0-11 at the break.
Derry took control hitting six points in a row in the second half with Bradley doing most of the damage. But Louth, with that dubious score of McEneaney’s, came back. Still, Derry looked like holding on as they led by two as the game approached injury-time but Brian White and that man Clarke snatched a draw.
Scorers for Derry: P Bradley 0-7 (2fs), C Gilligan 0-6 (5fs), E Brown 0-2, C Kielt, SL McGoldrick, B Gormley, E Lynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Louth: D Clarke 1-7 (4fs, 1 45), J McEneaney 0-3, R Finnegan, J Carr, R Carroll, A Reid, D Maguire, B White 0-1 each.
DERRY: B Gillis; B McCallion, C McKaigue, A McAlynn; C Kielt, M Drumm, SL McGoldrick; M Friel, PJ McCloskey; N Forrester, C Gilligan, B Gormley; E Brown, P Bradley, E Lynn.
Subs: Patsy Bradley for Forrester (27), E Scullion for McAlynn (HT), C O’Boyle for McCloskey (50), J Diver for Friel (62), R Scott for Drumm (66).
LOUTH: N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, A Hoey; D Byrne, J Carr, L Shevlin; B Donnelly, R Carroll; D Crilly, M Brennan, A Reid; D Maguire, J McEneaney, D Clarke.
Subs: J Califf for Donnelly (25), A McDonnell for Crilly (54), S Fitzpatrick for Rath (60), B White for Reid (60), A Hoey for Califf (64).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Sligo).