The return of the Slaughtneil contingent will help Derry in that regard, though manager Damian Barton is not sure yet when he will have them back.
“I hope they will be back, but I don’t know when, at this stage. This league is crazy. If we had won, we would probably have gone third.
“You come out every day to win matches and we need to win our last two matches,” he said.
His men were in the driving seat when goals from Benny Heron and Emmett McGuckian saw them lead by six points approaching half-time, with their goalkeeper Thomas Mallon also saving a penalty from Barry McHugh.
However, Galway, who enjoyed a great start with a third-minute Danny Cummins goal, also finished the half strongly, with Tom Flynn rifling home a superb goal to cut the gap to 2-10 to 2-7 at the break.
James Kielt extended the lead after the restart, but Michael Daly, kicking two excellent points, led the Galway revival. They landed four in a row to draw level, but Derry then struck three without reply to lead by 2-14 to 2-11 going into the final quarter.
However, it was all Galway after that and they never looked back once Johnny Heaney fisted a 60th-minute goal to edge the hosts in front. Derry lost corner-back Oisin Hegarty, who had been booked, to a black card after he dragged Daly down and Eamonn Brannigan slotted home the resultant penalty. Shane Walsh got Galway’s fifth goal and, at the other end, goalkeeper Ruairi Lavelle saved a late penalty from McGuckin on a day when Galway took a big step towards ending their six-year exile from the top flight.
“It’s a big win for us,” said Galway manager Kevin Walsh. “We have our fate in our hands at this stage, but others will feel they have it within their own grasp, as well, so there is a fair to bit to go yet.”
E Brannigan 1-3 (1-0 pen), J Heaney 1-1, D Cummins 1-1, T Flynn 1-1, S Walsh 1-1, M Daly 0-3, B McHugh 0-2 (1 ’45), G Sice 0-2 (1f), G O’Donnell 0-1.
N Loughlin 0-5 (2f, 1 ’45), J Kielt 0-5 (3f), B Heron 1-2, E McGuckin 1-0, E Lynn 0-1, C McWilliams 0-1, D Tallon 0-1.
R Lavelle; L Burke, D Walsh, C Sweeney; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy, F Ó Curraoin; T Flynn, M Daly, E Brannigan; G Sice, B McHugh, D Cummins.
S Walsh for Cummins (50), M Lundy for Sice (55), M Farragher for Bradshaw (57), L Silke for Heaney (70), F Hanley for Burke (72), E Tierney for Conroy (74).
T Mallon; N Keenan, C Nevin, C McGrogan; N Forester, M Craig, M McEvoy; C McAtamney, J Kielt; E Lynn, E McGuckin, C McWilliams; D Tallon, N Loughlin, B Heron.
O Hegarty for McGrogan (20), R Bell for Loughlin (50), C Kielt for Nevin (50), P Hagan for Tallon (66), J Rocks for McAtamney (69, black card).
Rory Hickey (Clare)