Derry City brushed aside the challenge of Limerick FC on their return to the Brandywell on Monday night courtesy of a 5-0 victory. A hattrick from Ronan Hale and a goal apiece from Aaron McEneff and Ronan Curtis provided Kenny Shiels men with the perfect response to their 6-1 drubbing against Shamrock Rovers last week.

Approaching the tenth minute, Birmingham City loanee Ronan Hale opened the scoring in spectacular fashion as he rifled a shot into the corner of the net after being set-up by Conor McDermott. Limerick players felt that Shane Tracy had been fouled by McDermott but referee Ben Connolly disagreed. Shortly afterwards, target man Rory Patterson showed his strength before shooting from distance straight at Brendan Clarke.

In the opening stages, it was clear that Kenny Shiels was aware of Limerick’s style as the Candystripes stood off their opponents allowing Tony Whitehead and Darren Dennehy to have plenty of possession. Once the visitors approached the half way line, the Derry players were quick to press from their own half to win possession back quickly.

Limerick were forced into an early substitution as Eoin Wearen felt the force of a poor tackle from Aaron McEneff and was duly replaced by Will Fitzgerald. It is far from ideal for Wearen who spent all of the 2017 season on the side-lines through injury. Also, Tommy Barrett is not blessed with many options in midfield.

The lively Rory Hale created the next chance for Derry as his half volley flashed just wide of Brendan Clarke’s post. Two minutes later, the combative Nicky Low forced a save from Clarke but it was easily dealt with by the former St. Patricks Athletic net minder.

Limerick’s first chance of the game came as a result of good play between Shane Duggan and Cian Coleman and the latter drilled a cross along the six yard box which evaded the foot of Danny Morrissey. The Shannonsiders best chance of the game arrived moments later as Billy Dennehy struck the inside of the post with a free-kick from 25 yards out.

On the stroke of half-time, the impressive Rory Patterson miscued a shot after being set up by Conor McDermott.

Limerick began brightly in the second period without creating any clear cut chances. The visitors were punished for their lack of creativity on the hour mark as Derry doubled their lead. Rory Patterson held the ball up and pulled it back into the path of Ronan Curtis who finished superbly into the bottom corner. Just three minutes later, Patterson was again central as Derry extended their lead. Nicky Low hit a rasping shot off the crossbar and despite having chances to clear, the Limerick defence failed to do so and Aaron McEneff tapped into an empty net.

The fear of a repeat of the Dundalk scoreline became real as Limerick conceded their third goal in nine minutes. Limerick’s failure to clear their lines was costly once more as Ronan Hale capitalised and scored his second of the night. Moments later, Tony Whitehead was penalised for a foul in the box on Patterson and Ronan Hale coolly converted the spot-kick to complete his hattrick.

It is another shattering defeat for the Super Blues particularly as it has arrived just two weeks after a heavy away defeat to Dundalk. Despite the solid start before this encounter, Limerick have now shipped thirteen goals in two games against last year’s top four sides which gives an indication as to the gap that exists in the Airtriciy League Premier Division. Tommy Barrett’s men will have to react extremely quickly as they welcome champions Cork City to the Markets Field on Friday night followed by the visit of Shamrock Rovers on the following Monday night.

Derry City: Ger Doherty, Conor McDermott, Darren Cole, Eoin Toal, Jack Doyle (Scott Whiteside 87), Rory Hale, Nicky Low, Aaron McEneff (Adrian Delap 81),Ronan Hale (Ben Doherty 77), Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson

Subs not used: Eric Grimes, Dapo Kayode, Niall Logue, Cathal Farren
Yellow Cards: Aaron McEneff (12)
Red Cards: None

Limerick FC Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Darren Dennehy, Shane Tracy, Cian Coleman, Eoin Wearen (Will Fitzgerald 16), Shane Duggan (Killian Cantwell 72), Billy Dennehy, Daniel Kearns, Danny Morrissey (Conor Ellis 59)

Subs not used: Tommy Holland Killian Brouder, Colm Walsh-O’Loughlin, Henry Cameron
Yellow Cards: Shane Duggan (53), Cian Coleman (58)
Red Cards: None

Referee: Ben Connolly