Ronan Hale bags memorable hat-trick as Derry City make winning return to Brandywell

Derry City 5, Limerick 0

HOMECOMING KING, Ronan Hale earned his place in the Derry City history books as he bagged a hat-trick against Limerick to ensure a triumphant return to Brandywell Stadium after an absence of 18 months.

The Belfast teenager, on loan from Birmingham City, fired Derry in front on eight minutes with a stunning strike worthy of the occasion to light up the fantastic Lone Moor Road venue

Ronan Curtis and Aaron McEneff then 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 treble on the new 3G surface.

The grandson of former Derry City striker, Danny Hale, who lit up the Brandywell in the 1960s, netted his first senior goal coming off the bench last Friday night in Dublin and he certainly made an impression on the sell-out crowd with his first senior hat-trick.

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

GOAL HERO . ..  Ronan Hale netted a hat-trick as Derry City made a winning return to Brandywell.

GOAL HERO . .. Ronan Hale netted a hat-trick as Derry City made a winning return to Brandywell.

It was an emotional evening as the parents of the late Derry City striker, 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.

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 debutante, Jack Doyle.

It was a cagey opening but after eight minutes City marked their Brandywell return with a stunning strike from on loan Birmingham City youngster, Ronan Hale.

Conor McDermott 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 in emphatic fashion.

Repubic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with Kathleen and Michael Farren, parents of the late Derry City footballer Mark Farren, during the offical opening of the new Mark Farren Stand before the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Derry City and Limerick at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry.

Repubic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill with Kathleen and Michael Farren, parents of the late Derry City footballer Mark Farren, during the offical opening of the new Mark Farren Stand before the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Derry City and Limerick at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry.

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 oath 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.

Ronan 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 Ronan 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 togo but he sent his close range shot wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.

Goal hero, Hale received a standing ovation for the supporters in the new Mark Farren Stand as the night belonged to the young Belfast man on a perfect night for Derry City.

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; Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, D. Kayode, C. Farren, N. Logue.

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); Subs Not Used - T. Holland, C. Ellis, K. Brouder, C. Walsh-O'Loghlen, H. Cameron.

Referee - Ben Connolly.