Homecoming King

Hale Hale! Ronan hits hattrick as Derry open new Brandywell with a 5-0 win

The Candystripes returned to their spiritual home in style after an 18-month absence.

Derry City v Limerick - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Ronan Hale: stole the show on opening night. Oliver McVeigh Oliver McVeigh

Derry City 5

Limerick 0

Simon Collins reports from the Brandywell

RONAN HALE NETTED a historic hat-trick as Derry City blew aside Limerick to mark their long-awaited return to Brandywell Stadium.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Birmingham City, stole the show on a memorable night for the Candystripes who returned to their spiritual home after an 18-month absence.

The Belfast lad fired Derry in front on eight minutes with a stunning strike to light up the venue.

Ronan Curtis and Aaron McEneff both found the net in the space of three second-half minutes as Derry strolled to their second win of the season.

Hale then slotted in his second on 69 minutes before he converted from the penalty spot to complete a memorable hattrick on the new 3G surface.

It was a brilliant response from the Candystripes following Friday night’s 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.

The parents of the late Derry City record goalscorer, Mark Farren were flanked by FAI CEO John Delaney and Ireland boss Martin O’Neill who cut the ribbon to officially open the new stand named in his honour.

Derry City v Limerick - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Mark Farren: pre-match tributes. Oliver McVeigh Oliver McVeigh

Kenny Shiels made three changes from the team which was hit for six at Shamrock Rovers with Niall Logue, Jamie McDonagh and Ben Doherty making way for Conor McDermott, Ronan Hale and debutant Jack Doyle.

It was a cagey opening but after eight minutes City marked their Brandywell return with a stunning strike from Hale.

McEneff won the ball on the right flank and fed it through to Hale who fired a powerful shot into the top corner of the net – his second of the season.

That goal sparked Derry into life and moments later Curtis sent Rory Patterson breaking clear on the left and the striker tried to bend it into the far corner but Brendan Clarke gathered at the second attempt.

Nicky Low tried his luck from the edge of the Limerick penalty area on the 20 minutes mark but Clarke was equal to it.

Derry came so close to adding a second on 25 minutes when Doyle chipped it into Patterson who back-heeled into the path of the onrushing Curtis who fired over the bar.
Limerick winger Billy Dennehy then struck the foot of the post from a superb 25 yard free-kick as the visitors got to grips with proceedings.

Hale was causing Limerick all sorts of problems on the right wing and he turned inside Shane Tracy before crossing low to the near post but Patterson scuffed his shot wide.

Hale came so close to adding his second of the night 14 minutes after the restart when McEneff played him into space inside the penalty area but he blasted his shot narrowly over the bar.

Shortly after the hour mark, Patterson played a neat reverse pass onto the overlapping Curtis who took a touch before placing his shot into the bottom corner.

Three minutes later Patterson played Low in behind the Limerick defence and the Scot’s chipped shot struck the crossbar. It bounced kindly into the path of Hale before it broke to McEneff who passed it into the net.

The Candystripes put the game out of reach on 69 minutes when Doyle’s blocked shot found Hale and he fired into the net at the near post.

Five minutes later and Hale was brought crashing down inside the penalty area by Dennehy and referee Ben Connolly pointed to the spot. Up stepped Hale who sent Clarke the wrong way to complete his hat-trick.

Conor Ellis missed a glorious chance to pull one back for Limerick with 10 minutes to go but he sent his close range shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

DERRY CITY: G. Doherty; C. McDermott, E. Toal, D. Cole, J. Doyle (S. Whiteside 88); Ronan Hale (B. Doherty 78), N. Low, R. Hale, N. Low, R. Curtis; A. McEneff (A. Delap 82); R. Patterson.

LIMERICK: B. Clarke; S. Kelly, T. Whitehead, D. Dennehy, S. Tracy; B. Dennehy, S. Duggan (K. Cantwell 75), C. Coleman, E. Wearen (W. Fitzgerald 16); D. Kearns; D. Morrissey (C. Ellis 59).

REFEREE: Ben Connolly.

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