Roscommon 0-12, Derry 0-12
Derry's promotion destiny remains in their own hands despite their 11-match National League winning run coming to an end in a thrilling draw against Roscommon in Dr. Hyde Park on Sunday.
Trailing 0-10 to 0-4 two minutes into the second half, the Oak Leafers fought back brilliantly to lead 0-12 0-11 in the final minute of normal time in a game that saw two red cards, two black cards and 14 yellows. Even after Roscommon substitute Keith Doyle had levelled in six minutes of injury time, Derry were handed a late chance to win with with a 45m free.
Unfortunately for the Oak Leafers, free taker Shane McGuigan had already been dismissed on a extremely harsh second yellow card after he was hauled to the floor by marker Brian Stack who saw black for his indiscretion. Emmett Bradley stepped up in McGuigan's absence but in a difficult swirling breeze, the Glen man sent his kick just wide in front of more than 2,500 spectators.
The result, coupled with Galway's defeat of Clare, means Derry relinquish top spot in Division Two but can secure promotion with victory over Galway next weekend in Owenbeg by virtue of the fact the Tribesmen and Roscommon meet in their final league fixture.
Stack's black card was one of two brandished to the home side, Cian McKeon receiving the first for his part in a melee two minutes into the second half which lit the blue touch paper for a half in which tension never boiled far from the surface. There was a late red card too for the home side as Niall Daly picked up a second yellow on 70 minutes for barging into Oisin McWilliams as he bore down on goal, reflective of the home side's attempt's to stop Derry's running game at source.
In all though, the visitors will be the happier of the two counties after a game which could have gone either way.
Derry made one change to the 15 that started in Ennis against Clare, Gareth McKinless restored to the team after his starring role in Cusack Park with Lachlan Murray the man to drop to the bench. Both counties knew the stakes with promotion being decided between themselves and Galway and the opening minutes reflected that prize as possession was king. Roscommon used Conor Cox inside with Cian McKeon and Donie Smith supporting in an opening half in which the home side enjoyed the benefits of the considerable breeze.
The elements may go someway to explaining Derry's first half inability to turn chances into scores in those first 36 minutes, as Gallagher's men uncharacteristically coughed up ball and failed to take advantage of at least two gilt edged goal chances.
With Conor Glass employed as a sweeper, the visitors started impressively with Shane McGuigan's early brace of points giving Derry a real foothold in the game with only eight minutes on the clock. At that point, Derry had control, if not possession, which largely belonged to the home side and three points in three minutes suddenly gave the opening stages a different complexion and Roscommon the confidence boost they craved before a sizeable and partisan home crowd.
Captain Donie Smith got the ball rolling for Anthony Cunningham's men before then taking advantage of McKinless' loose pass to level before the home side won the resulting kick-out and Conor Cox slotted over for 0-3 to 0-2. In all Roscommon had five different scorers in the opening 20 minutes as Enda Smith and Niall Daly added scores for a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
The visitors were struggling to make any impression on the home kick-out and it was providing ample primary possession from which Roscommon were reaping the rewards though both Niall Loughlin and Paul Cassidy could have hit the home net. The latter's was the best chance coming up to half-time, McGuigan sending him clear to round Roscommon keeper Colm Lavin only for the home keeper to produce a fantastic diving block as Cassidy looked set to stroke the ball into the empty net.
Turning around 0-8 to 0-4 down, things quickly got worse for Derry as substitute Cathal Heneghan and Cian McKeon stretched the home lead to six points.
Padraig McGrogan stemmed the flow with a lovely score and then came the melee or melees. They were little more than grappling but emotions went through the roof and Derry responded, though Roscommon were enraged with Heneghan was pulled back for a free despite seeming to go clear after shaking off his defender.
The free make it 0-11 to 0-5 but from there Derry hit seven unanswered scores through Cassidy, McGuigan (5f) and Brendan Rogers to hit the front for the first time since the opening 10 minutes and they looked to have all the momentum. Roscommon though weren't finished as substitute Doyle tied things up once more.
Both sides could have won it but as the finale descended into farce with cards being produced every other minute, it was honours even. There's plenty of life in this promotion battle yet.
Derry scorers: Shane McGuigan (0-8, 5f), Benny Heron (0-1), Padraig McGrogan (0-1), Paul Cassidy (0-1), Brendan Rogers (0-1)
Roscommon scorers: Donie Smith (0-4, 2f), Conor Cox (0-2, 1f), Enda Smith (0-1), Niall Daly (0-1), Eddie Nolan (0-1), Cathal Heneghan (0-1), Cian McKeon (0-1), Keith Doyle (0-1),
Derry: Odhran Lynch, Chrissy McKaigue, Brendan Rogers, Conor McCluskey, Ethan Doherty, Padraig McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Paul Cassidy, Oisin McWilliams, Gareth McKinless, Benny Heron, Shane McGuigan Niall Loughlin. (Subs) Ciaran McFaul for C Doherty, 44mins; Niall Toner for B Heron, 46mins; Lachlan Murray for N Loughlin, 49mins; Ben McCarron for O McWilliams, 70mins;
Yellow cards: S McGuigan, 29 & 74mins; G M Kinless, 36, P McGrogan, 36, Conor Doherty, 44mins; C McFaul, 49mins; C McKaigue, 60mins; R Gallagher, 65mins;. Red Card: S McGuigan, 74mins
Roscommon: Colm Lavin, David Murray, Brian Stack, Eoin McCormack, Richard Hughes, Niall Daly, Ronan Daly, Ultan Harney, Eddie Nolan, Ciaran Murtagh, Enda Smith, NIall Kilroy, Cian McKeon, Danie Smith, Conor Cox. (Subs) Diarmuid Murtagh for N Kilroy, 52mins; Keith Doyle for C McKeon, 58mins; Andrew Glennon for C Cox, 65mins; Ciaran Sugrue for D Smith, 68mins;
Yellow Cards: C Heneghan, 36mins; E Smith, 44mins; N Daly, 44 & 70mins; C Cox, 60mins; D Murtagh, 62mins. Black Cards: C McKeon, 36mins; B Stack, 74mins. Red Card: N Daly, 70mins;
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)