Ronan Hale was the hat-trick hero for Derry City as they got back to winning ways emphatically at the Brandywell after they thrashed Limerick in the Airtricity League Premier Division. 

The teenager, on loan from Birmingham, was the star of the show, hitting a hat-trick as Derry returned to the Brandywell in style.

Derry had to wait until the second half before they put the game beyond Limerick, scoring four in just over ten minutes. 

The opening goal came just nine minutes in when Conor McDermott produced a ferocious tackle to win the ball ahead of Shane Tracey, and as a result Ronan Hale picked he ball up on the right side of the penalty area.

Without a second thought, Hale looked up and curled a spectacular effort over the reach of Limerick goalkeeper Brendan Clarke and into the top corner to send the new Brandywell into raptures.

It should have been 2-0 just before the hour mark following a well-worked free kick from City, with Rory Patterson linking well with Aaron McEneff before the latter set up a shooting opportunity for the younger Hale, but he could not replicate this accuracy of the first half as he blazed over Clarke’s goal.

The second goal came early in the second half to give Kenny Shiels’ team much-needed breathing space.

The goal came when Nicky Low hooked the ball down the wing and Curtis chased it down, finding Patterson, who cleverly returned the pass to out his team mate through on goal, and he slid the ball right-footed past Clarke for his third goal of the season.

Aaron McEneff

Limerick were still recovering from that blow when Derry struck again just three minutes later. The crowd almost saw a collector’s item as Low, who has never scored for the Candystripes, nipped onto a Patterson pass and chipped the ball over Clarke only for it to bounce back off the crossbar.

The danger remained however and Hale manage to prod the ball into the path of McEneff who gleefully slammed in his first goal of the season to secure the three points for the Candy Stripes.

Derry were incessant at this stage and they scored again on 70 minutes to put an emphatic look on the score line. Conor McDermott burst down the right and dinked a cross over Clarke. The ball came to Curtis at the back post whose pass to the right was met by a thunderbolt by McEneff. Clarke did brilliantly to save it but the ball came to Hale, who lashed in his second of the game.

Limerick had gone completely at this stage and when Nicky Low threaded a pass through for Hale, Dennehy hauled him back, giving referee Ben Connolly an easy penalty decision. Usual penalty taker Aaron McEneff unselfishly gave the ball to Hale for the hat-trick and the youngster showed no nerves as he blasted the ball high past Clarke to make it 5-0.

Derry City: Gerard Doherty, Jack Doyle (Scot Whiteside 86’), Darren Cole, Eoin Toal, Conor McDermott, Ronan Hale (Ben Doherty 78’), Aaron McEneff (Adrian Delap 82’), Nicky Low, Rory Hale, Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson.

Limerick: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Cian Coleman, Eoin Wearen (William Fitzgerald 16’), Shane Duggan Killian Cantwell 74’), Danny Morrissey (Conor Elllis 60’), Shane Tracey, Daniel Kearns, Billy Dennehy, Darren Dennehy.

Referee: Ben Connolly.