Clare 0-10, Derry 2-13
Derry moved into the promotion box seat after a comfortable nine point victory over Clare made it four Division Two wins from four in Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday.
Derry were made to work in the opening half with one point point between the sides as they headed into the changing rooms but the introduction of Gareth McKinless in the closing stages of that first period saw the tide turn decisively in favour of Rory Gallagher's side.
McKinless scored one goal and set up the other after the break as the Oak Leafers went through the gears to eventually win with plenty to spare and remain on course for a first return to Division One since 2015
Gallagher named the same 15 that started in last week's victory over Cork and it was a positive start from the Oak Leafers as early points from Paul Cassidy and Oisin McWilliams gave them a two point lead by the second minute.
Derry though were also guilty of some sloppy passages of play, notably coughing up possession on four separate occasions when building play inside the Clare half which afforded the Banner County the opportunity to hit on the break through dangermen Aaron Griffin and Keelan Sexton.
Derry were struggling to get Shane McGuigan in the game but the Slaughtneil man was being well marshalled by Cillian Brennan but it was a mark of the Oak Leafer's evolution that their 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead came courtesy of six different scorers. Indeed by full-time 11 different players had registered score for Derry
The opening half was a tale of possession, both sides enjoying sustained periods with the ball as they probed for openings with only two wides apiece registered in the opening half, although Clare did shoot two short, one an outrageous save from Odhran Lynch over his crossbar.
Clare employed Sexton and James Malone inside but Derry's biggest problem came through their own mistakes against a fast breaking Clare counter.
Those opening two score were answered by Clare's Griffins who gabbed the home side opener on four minutes but Padraig McGrogan restored Derry's two points advantage inside two minutes.
A sexton free cut the lead once more before McGuigan answered in king and Lachlan Murray tagged on a lovely solo score for 0-5 to 0-2 after 11 minutes. Derry however would go on to score only one more point in the half as Clare enjoyed their best period of the game.
Another Sexton free, this time off the ground, was followed by Niall Loughlin's first of the day, also from a placed ball but it was Clare who finished the stronger with points from Sexton and captain Eoin Cleary whose clever free taking technique was able to buy him extra yards every time he hit one from distance.
Clare levelled within one minute of the restart, big midfielder Darren O'Neill brilliantly taking Griffin's pass to stroke over a lovely score but Derry's response was emphatic and first half substitute Gareth McKinless at the centre of it.
First it was McKinless' run at the heart of the Clare defence that drew a foul from Cathal O'Connor from which McGuigan tapped over an easy free. Better was to follow though as from the resulting kick-out, Derry won possession. The ball was transferred to McKinless who burst forward again to pick out Benny Heron who stepped around Clare keeper Stephen Ryan for his second goal in two weeks and a 1-07 to 0-6 lead.
Cathal O'Connor and McGuigan (free) swapped points before a lovely Emmett Bradley effort and another McGuigan free edged Derry's lead out to 1-10 to 0-7 by the midway point of the half.
McKinless' next involvement was even more decisive as Derry once again won a Clare kick-out, McKinless then going through the gears to open up Clare once more. His attempted pass inside was blocked but the Ballinderry was alert enough to pounce on the loose ball and fired a soccer style finish across Ryan and into the far corner for 2-10 to 0-7.
From there it was game management time though Derry should really have added further goals to their tally and were denied what looked a stone wall penalty for a foot block on Ben McCarron's goal bound shot.
It would have been academic though, the game was long over as a contest as Derry move forward to another away test, this time against Roscommon in two weeks time.
Derry scorers: Benny Heron (1-0), Gareth McKinless (1-0), Shane McGuigan (0-4, 4f), Emmett Bradley (0-2), Paul Cassidy (0-1), Oisin McWilliams (0-1), Padraig McGrogan (0-1), Lachlan Murray (0-1), Niall Loughlin (0-1, 1f), Ethan Doherty (0-1), Ciaran McFaul (0-1).
Clare scorers: Aaron Griffin (0-1), Keelan Sexton (0-5, 3f), Eoin Cleary (0-1, 1f), Darren O'Neill (0-1), Cathal O'Connor (0-1), Emmett McMahon (0-1).
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey, Ethan Doherty, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Paul Cassidy, Niall Loughlin, Oisin McWilliams, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan, Lachlan Murray. (Subs) Gareth McKinless for L Murray, 33mins; Ciaran McFaul for O McWilliams, 45mins; Niall Toner for B Heron, 54mins; Matthew Downey for N Loughlin, 59mins; Ben McCarron for E Doherty, 66mins;
Clare: Stephen Ryan, Manus Doherty, Cillian Brennan, Cillian Rouine, Cian O'Dea, Eoghan Collins, Alan Sweeney, Cathal O'Connor, Darren O'Neill, Jamie Malone, Eoin Cleary, Pearse Lillis, Aaron Griffins, Keelan Sexton, David Tubridy. (Subs) Connor Jordan for E Collins, 46mins; David Tubridy for P Collins, 48mins; Emmett McMahon for J Malone, 55mins; Ciaran Downes for A Griffins, 64mins; Dan Keating for D O'Neill, 70mins;
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)