Donegal 1-15 Derry 0-12
Donegal got their Division 1 campaign and Rory Gallagher's reign off to a winning start with a storming second half that swatted Derry aside at Ballybofey tonight.
Odhran McNelis' goal in the 53rd minute was the real turning point as Donegal, who had already turned around a three-point, half-time deficit, accelerated clear in the latter stages.
Paddy McBrearty and Michael Murphy kicked five points each for the home side, who held their visitors to just three points after the break.
Playing into a stiff breeze in the opening half Derry got off the mark in the third minute when Emmett McGuckin punished a very slack Paul Durcan kick out with a point. Indeed the Derry attacker had reason to be annoyed with himself after he blasted the excellent goal chance over the bar.
Both sides employed defensive tactics, as getting as many players behind the ball as quickly as possible the obvious aim.
Yet despite the constraints early on, Paddy McBrearty in particular found plenty of room inside and he got Donegal off the mark in the sixth minute from a free after Oisin Duffy found him.
Martin O'Reilly and Christy Toye were the next Donegal players to find themselves in space and kicked the home side into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead, but that early supremacy soon disappeared as Derry took control.
Barry McGoldrick made the most of a long, accurate delivery from Mark Lynch to start Derry on a run of five of the next six points, while Lynch's prowess from long range frees helped Brian McIver's troops to a two point lead by the 18th minute.
An off the ball foul by Niall Holly on Murphy was punished by a tap over free for Murphy to pull Donegal back to within one point, but three frees from Lynch meant the Oak Leaf county led by 0-9 to 0-6 at the break.
Derry, who reached the league final last year, were utterly dominant at stages of the first half, but it was Gallagher's side that ruled the opening stages of the second half.
Martin McElhinney, who was introduced as a half time substitute, made an immediate impact with a point in the 36th minute, and when McBrearty and Murphy kicked frees either side of an excellent O'Reilly point, Donegal had turned that deficit into a one point lead.
Donegal should have surged ahead in the 50th minute but a very harsh penalty awarded against Holly, was crashed against the crossbar by Murphy.
But three minutes later Odhrán Mac Nelis did hit the net for Donegal with a blistering low strike to give his side a 1-11 to 0-11 lead.
Further points from McBrearty, Murphy and Toye proved the insurance for last year's All-Ireland finalists, who got the post Jim McGuinness era off to a winning start.
Scorers – Donegal: M Murphy (0-5f), P McBrearty 0-5 (0-2f) each, O McNelis 1-0, C Toye, M O'Reilly 0-2 each, M McElhinney 0-1 each.
Derry: M Lynch 0-6 (0-5f), E McGuckin, B McGoldrick, B Hernon, C McAtamney, E Lynn, E Bradley 0-1 each.
Donegal: P Durcan; P McGrath, E McGee, F McGlynn; R McHugh, K Lacey, C McGinley; N Gallagher, C Toye; H McFadden, M McHugh, O MacNelis; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M O’Reilly.
Subs: D McLaughlin for McGinley (27), M McElhinney for McFadden (h-t), D O’Connor for McLaughlin (70), G McFadden for O'Reilly (71).
Derry: T Mallon; O Duffy, N Holly, J O’Kane; K Johnston, G O’Kane, M Craig; M Lynch, C McAtamney; B Heron, D Heavron, E Lynn; S L McGoldrick, E McGuckin, B McGoldrick.
Subs: B Og McGilligan for McAtamney (48), L McGoldrick for Holly (54), E Bradley for McGuckin (57), C McFaul for Heron (65), J Kearney for Lynn (70).
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).