Late Eoin Bradley point earns Derry victory over 14-men Down

Derry's Eoin Bradley and Down's Peter Fitzpatrick
Derry's Eoin Bradley and Down's Peter Fitzpatrick

Eoin Bradley’s injury-time free handed Derry a hard-fought 0-12 to 0-11 victory over Down at Celtic Park.

Down were forced to play most of the second half with 14 men following the harsh dismissal of Conal McGovern in the 37th minute.

Jim McCorry’s men overturned a four-point deficit to draw level and the match remained in the balance until the very end when Bradley slotted his fifth point of the game to seal a semi-final date with either holders Donegal or Armagh.

Four Mark Lynch points assured the winners of a 0-8 to 0-5 half-time lead, with Bradley also on target three times before the short whistle.

Kevin McKerman was the only Down man to register from play in the opening 35 minutes.

Things got even better for Derry straight after the restart when Conal McGovern received a straight red card for an alleged strike on Enda Lynn.

Derry made good use of the extra man with Lynch (free) and a superb point from Bradley putting the home side 0-10 to 0-6 up after 41 minutes.

Down responded with four points in a row in an eight-minute spell to draw level.

Conor Laverty was key for Down but they were left to regret seven second-half wides in a dramatic finish.

Derry sub Caolan O’Boyle ended a 21-minute scoring drought with a fisted point to put the home team back in front with nine minutes remaining.

Paul Devlin hit his sixth free of the afternoon to bring Down level again after 67 minutes and the game was in the melting pot, at 0-11 apiece.

Derry worked one last move, which Bradley converted, as the home side stumbled to only their second championship win at Celtic Park in the Brian McIver era.

“We are relieved to come out of the game with a result,” said Derry manager Brian McIver.

“We played far better in the first half when it was 15 against 15 than when we had the spare man.

“We had to show that little bit of composure, held on and got the score that decided it.”