Late Toner strike sees Oakleafers snatch victory over brave Down
Derry 1-14 Down 2-10
A late Niall Toner goal snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for Derry at a very cold and fog-blanketed Celtic Park.
The win continues new manager Damian McErlain's unbeaten run, with his young charges only requiring a draw away to Armagh on Sunday to progress to this year's semi-finals.
Winless Down will rue this fixture as a missed chance having led for almost the entire contest before Toner broke free to drill the home past Shane Harrison.
Goals from Sean Dornan and Kevin McKernan saw Down run in five points up at the break, ahead 2-7 to 0-8.
Down boasted a fairly decent hand so early in the season with the impressive Shay Millar and Kevin McKernan taking the attack to a rookie Derry defence.
The hosts sprinkled a youthful line-up with a few more seasoned performers in the shape of Mark Lynch and Enda Lynn.
Man of the match Lynn took the game by the scruff of the neck after the restart as Derry chipped away at the deficit. Lynch and substitutes James Kielt and Patrick Kearney also scored.
Niall Toner's late heroics leave Derry on two wins from the opening two games, with an away game to Armagh up next for Damian McErlain's men.
DERRY: O Hartin, C McCluskey, L McGoldrick, R Mooney, P Coney, Michael McEvoy, J Curran, J Doherty, C McAtamney, C Doherty, C McFaul 0-1, E Lynn 0-6, N Toner 1-0, P Hagan, M Lynch 0-3. Subs: M Bateson for J Curran (HT), P Keaney 0-1 for C McCluskey (43), J Kielt 0-1f for M Lynch (52), F Higgins for P Hagan (58)
DOWN: S Harrison, C Flanagan, Gerard McGovern, B McArdle, A Doherty 0-1f, N McParland, C Mooney 0-1, A Morgan 0-1, C Poland, S Millar 0-3, K McKernan 1-2, C Francis, R Millar 0-1, S Dornan 1-0, J Guinness. Subs: B O'Hagan for C Francis (42), D O'Hanlon 0-1f for J Guinness (50), C Harrison for S Dornan (57), S Murnin for C Mooney (60), S Murray for R Millar (65)
Referee: Anthony Marron (Monaghan)