Derry 2-17 Westmeath 1-5
Derry secured promotion to Division 1 with a comprehensive 2-17 to 1-5 win over a much-changed Westmeath side at Celtic Park this afternoon.
Two superbly taken penalties by James Kielt, one in either half, were the key scores for Derry against the already promoted Lakesiders.
Kielt's first penalty, awarded for a foul on substitute Benny Heron, helped the hosts lead 1-6 to 0-3 at the break.
Paul Sharry netted for Westmeath but Kielt responded quickly and Derry cruised across the finish line.
The sides will meet again in the Division 2 final on Sunday, April 28, a game that is highly unlikely to follow the pattern of today's tie in which Westmeath's primary interest was looking at fringe players.
The Lake County made 10 changes to their team from the last day and it showed in the second half particularly as Brian McIver's Derry outfit cruised to victory.
It was Derry who started brighter and led by 0-3 to 0-0 after 10 minutes, with two Lee Kennedy scores and a lovely effort from Eoin Bradley giving them a headstart.
David Duffy's fine performance at midfield gave the visitors a foothold though, and only for their poor decision-making in front of goal, they could have easily been level at the break.
Dessie Dolan got Westmeath's first score from a free, but a brilliant effort from Aidan McAlynn and scores from Bradley and full-back Chrissy McKaigue saw Derry lead by 0-6 to 0-1.
Dolan and Denis Corroon responded for Pat Flanagan's side but with the first half in stoppage time, Benny Heron was pulled down by Damien Dolan and James Kielt dispatched the penalty to the top corner to send Derry in 1-6 to 0-3 ahead.
Eoin Bradley and Kennedy pointed on the restart, though hopes of a Westmeath revival came through a brilliant goal from centre back Paul Sharry, who had been denied one in the first half by the knees of Eoin McNicholl.
No sooner had the ball nestled in the net than Derry were on the counter and James Kielt was needlessly bundled over by goalkeeper Eoin Carberry as the ball sailed wide, resulting in a second penalty for the home side.
Kielt went to the other side, and again Carberry guessed right, but the Kilrea man's penalty kick was inch perfect into the top left hand corner.
The excellent Ryan Bell followed it up with a superb score off the outside of his right boot and that began a processionary final 25 minutes in which Derry outscored the visitors by nine points to two.
The result saw Derry finish as the highest scorers in the country through the Allianz Football League and sends them into the Croke Park decider as favourites, although Westmeath's starting line-up will look a lot different on April 28.
DERRY: E McNicholl; A McAlynn (0-1), C McKaigue (0-1), M Bateson; C Kielt (0-1), G O'Kane, SL McGoldrick; P Bradley, R Bell (0-2); D Heavron, J Kielt (2-1, 2-0 pen), E Lynn (0-1); R Wilkinson (0-1), E Bradley (0-5, 0-2f), L Kennedy (0-3, 0-1f).
Subs used: B Heron for Bateson (34 mins), C Devlin (0-1) for Kennedy (48), E McGuckin for Wilkinson (60), G Mallon for P Bradley (61), B McCallion for O'Kane (64).
WESTMEATH: E Carberry; J Gaffey, M McCallon, K Maguire; Damien Dolan, P Sharry (1-0), D Harte; D Duffy, D Daly; D Mullan, P Bannon, D Corroon (0-1); R Foley, L Smyth, Dessie Dolan (0-3, 0-2f).
Subs used: G Egan for Mullan, K Martin (0-1) for Bannon, C McCormack for Foley (all 52 mins), P Sheridan for Corroon (61), C Curley for Dessie Dolan (66).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)