Football League Division 1: Donegal 1-15 0-12 Derry

Donegal's Neil Gallagher challenges Derry's Gerard O'Kane at Ballybofey
Donegal fought back from four points down late in the first half to beat Derry at Ballybofey

Donegal fought back from a lacklustre first-half display to earn a six-point victory over Derry in the Football League Division 1 opener at Ballybofey.

Five Mark Lynch points helped Derry lead 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time as the home side looked decidedly lethargic.

However, Donegal upped the pace considerably after half-time and Michael Murphy missed a penalty before Odhran MacNiallais netted.

Patrick McBrearty finished with five points after an impressive display.

The Kilcar man looked sharp throughout the contest which was in contrast to the efforts of the majority of his team-mates in the opening period.

Paul Durcan very nearly endured a repeat of his All-Ireland final nightmare in the opening minute as another woefully directed short kick-out went straight to Emmet McGuckin but the Oak Leaf full-forward did not repeat the finishing of Kieran Donaghy as he blasted over the bar.

Donegal responded with three points as McBrearty opened their account but Derry hit five of the next six scores to move into a 0-6 to 0-4 lead.

Rory Gallagher succeeded Jim McGuinness as Donegal manager last autumn
Donegal manager Rory Gallagher shouts out instructions to his team in Saturday evening's game

After a couple of bad misses, Donegal skipper Murphy slotted a 20th-minute free but Lynch responded with three straight Derry points which included a thumping free from distance.

However, Donegal were a much-improved side after the resumption as Martin McElhinney's introduction to midfield alongside Neil Gallagher helped turn the match.

McElhinney kicked Donegal's first point of the second half as the home side finally began to inject some pace and further scores from McBrearty, Martin O'Reilly and Murphy had the Ulster champions ahead by the 44th minute.

The sides were level at 0-11 to 0-11 when Murphy missed his 50th-minute penalty which had been harshly awarded by Sligo referee Marty Duffy after the Donegal captain had been challenged by Derry full-back Niall Holly.

However, Donegal did find the net within two minutes as MacNiallais produced a composed finish after a fine Toye pass following a sweeping move from their own half.

After the superb McBrearty tagged on another point, Eoin Bradley had a Derry goal chance at the other end seconds after his introduction but the Glenavon soccer player blazed his effort over the bar.

Bradley had travelled to Ballybofey to sit on the Derry bench after being in action at Mourneview Park earlier in the afternoon.

Donegal played keep ball during the closing stages as Derry appeared to have run out of ideas.

ALLIANZ FOOTBALL LEAGUE RESULTS AND FIXTURES

SATURDAY

Division 1

Tyrone 0-09 1-13 Monaghan

Donegal 1-15 0-12 Derry

Division 3

Fermanagh 0-16 0-07 Louth

Division 4

Waterford 0-14 0-10 Wicklow

SUNDAY - 14:00

Division 1

Cork v Dublin, Pairc Ui Rinn

Kerry v Mayo, Killarney

Division 2

Galway v Meath, Pearse Stadium

Roscommon v Cavan, Kiltoom

Westmeath v Laois, Mullingar

Kildare v Down, Newbridge

Division 3

Clare v Wexford, Miltown Malbay

Limerick v Sligo, Kilmallock

Armagh v Tipperary, Athletic Grounds

Division 4

London v Offaly, Ruislip

Leitrim v Longford, Pairc Sean MacDiarmada

Antrim v Carlow, St Paul's

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