Galway’s promotion hopes stepped up a gear in a cracking contest at Tuam Stadium when they eventually saw off a brave Derry side.
Damian Barton’s men looked good on a number of occasions to secure a priceless victory, but a youthful Derry side were hit by a good response from the Tribesmen at crucial moments of a superb match.
Derry had the advantage of the diagonal wind in the opening half and deservedly led by 2-10 to 2-7 at the end of a highly entertaining first-half.
Galway opened up a 1-3 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes after Danny Cummins fisted home a pass from Michael Daly after three minutes.
Niall Loughlin and James Kielt sharp early on for Derry and kept them in touch with two points apiece.
Galway led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter but then Derry took charge and hit 1-5 without reply.
Loughlin, Benny Heron and Kielt shot points and then Heron fisted home a rebound after 23 minutes after Galway goalkeeper Ruairi Lavelle did well to save a piledriver from Emmett McGuckin, with Loughlin adding two from placed balls to lead by 1-9 to 1-5.
Galway hit back and got a penalty when Niall Keenan foot-blocked an effort from Michael Daly, but Barry McHugh’s penalty was saved by Thomas Mallon.
McHugh composed himself to land the resultant 45 but Derry hit back and McGuckin found the net at the other end after being set up by Danny Tallon.
However, Galway finished the half strongly and Tom Flynn scored a cracking goal with a shot low to the net to leave three between them at the interval.
The pace of the game did not drop after the restart with Derry extending their lead with a free.
But Galway took over and landed four in a row, including two excellent points from Michael Daly to tie the sides at 2-11 apiece after 44 minutes.
Derry responded and enjoyed a great spell to shoot three points in succession to lead by 2-14 to 2-11 at the end of the third quarter.
Once again, the Galway response was top class, with Gary O’Donnell and Eamonn Brannigan supplying points.
And the Connacht champions regain the lead 10 minutes from time when Johnny Heaney fisted home a goal after another good passing movement to lead by 3-13 to 2-14.
Benny Heron reduced the margin to a point two minutes later but then Galway got a second penalty and Eamonn Brannigan slotted it home to lead by four with five minutes left.
Derry reduced to 14 men when Oisin Hegarty picked up a black card in giving away the penalty when fouling Michael Daly, having already been booked.
Galway wrapped it up when Shane Walsh blasted to the net in the closing stages when he raced on to a ball and dispatched in style to the net.
There was still time for some more drama when Derry got a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time but McGuckin’s effort was excellently saved by Ruari Lavelle.
Galway 5-15 Derry 2-15
Scorers for Galway: E Brannigan 1-3 (1-0 pen), J Heaney 1-1, D Cummins 1-1, T Flynn 1-1, S Walsh 1-1, M Daly 0-3, B McHugh 0-2 (1 ’45), G Sice 0-2 (1f), G O’Donnell 0-1.
Scorers for Derry: N Loughlin 0-5 (2fs, 1 ’45), J Kielt 0-5 (3f), B Heron 1-2, E McGuckin 1-0, E Lynn 0-1, C McWilliams 0-1, D Tallon 0-1.
GALWAY: R Lavelle; L Burke, D Walsh, C Sweeney; G O’Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy, F Ó Curraoin; G Sice, T Flynn, E Brannigan; D Cummins, M Daly, B McHugh.
Subs: S Walsh for Cummins (50), M Lundy for Sice (55), M Farragher for Bradshaw (57), L Silke for Heaney (70), F Hanley for Burke (72), E Tierney for Conroy (74).
DERRY: T Mallon; C McGrogan, C Nevin, N Keenan; M McEvoy, M Craig, N Forester; C McAtamney, J Kielt; D Tallon, B Heron, C McWilliams; E Lynn, E McGuckin, N Loughlin.
Subs: O Hegarty for McGrogan (20), R Bell for Loughlin (50), C Kielt for Nevin (50), P Hagan for Tallon (66), J Rocks for McAtamney (69, black card).
REFEREE: Rory Hickey (Clare).