Galway 1-12 Derry 2-13, Pearse Stadium
Derry suffered relegation from Allianz NFL Division 1 in the most agonising fashion in sunny Salthill this afternoon.
Derry and Monaghan both finished with four league points and a -11 scoring difference, ahead of Tyrone (-15), but Monaghan's greater scoring total of 8-92 sees them stay up and Derry, with 5-85, relegated.
Early goals from Sean Leo McGoldrick and Declan Mullan set Derry on the way to a 2-9 to 1-4 half-time lead.
Galway goaled through Gary O'Donnell and the hosts closed the gap with four second half points from Nicky Joyce.
A smashing opening period display from the Oak Leafers was enough to defeat a Galway team that improved as the game wore on, but Derry's cause was not helped by their poor form earlier in the league.
Damien Cassidy's men ruled the early stages as they thundered into the contest against a Galway outfit that has endured a mixed league campaign.
Corner forward Declan Mullan was causing Galway plenty of bother, kicking two early points before creating a ninth minute goal for Sean Leo McGoldrick.
Mullan's dashing solo run made space and his intelligent hand pass found the onrushing McGoldrick, who rattled the Galway net with a crisp finish.
Mark Lynch then added a sweet point moments later as Derry assumed a commanding 1-4 to 0-1 advantage after 10 minutes.
Joe Bergin narrowed the deficit with a delightful effort from distance, but Derry grabbed a second goal in the 15th minute. Again, it was Mullan who did the damage as he knifed through the Galway defence before crashing his shot past goalkeeper Eoin O'Conghaile.
Derry remained on top for most of the opening period, but Galway were given a drop of hope when Gary O'Donnell netted a 27th'minute goal. Declan Meehan's hopeful punt was caught by Gary Sice, who fed Joe Bergin with O'Donnell ending the move in style.
Eoin Concannon banged over another free for Galway, but Derry responded with three late points in the minutes leading up to the break, courtesy of James Kielt (0-2) and Lynch to go in 2-9 to 1-4 ahead at the interval.
In the third quarter, Galway staged a mini revival as Paul Conroy, Concannon, Matthew Clancy and Joyce narrowed the deficit with crafty points.
Kielt terminated a 19-minute search for a Derry score with a free which was briskly followed by a Raymond Wilkinson effort from play. Late on, Galway pressed for a goal but Derry remained defiant to claim a win.
However, there was bitter disappointment for Cassidy's charges after the final whistle as they learned that they were just a single point away from avoiding the drop down to Division 2, with a number of second half wides coming back to haunt them.
GALWAY: E O'Conghaile; D O'Neill, F Hanley, D Burke; D Meehan, G O'Donnell (1-0), G Bradshaw; N Coleman, C Healy; G Sice, F Breathnach, J Bergin (0-1); E Colcannon (0-3, 0-3f), N Joyce (0-5, 0-4f), M Clancy (0-1).
Subs used: T Fahy for O'Neill (18 mins), P Conroy (0-2) for Healy (27), C Bane for Clancy (63), A Burke for Hanley (70).
DERRY: B Gillis; M McGoldrick, B Og McAlary, D McBride; G O'Kane, B McGuigan, C Kielt; F Doherty, P Bradley; R Wilkinson (0-1), J Kielt (0-5, 0-5f), SL McGoldrick (1-1); J Diver (0-1), M Lynch (0-3, 0-2f), D Mullan (1-2).
Subs used: M Craig for McAlary (43 mins), E Brown for E Bradley (57), B McGoldrick for J Kielt (66 mins), B Mullan for C Kielt (68 mins).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)