Kenny Shiels admitted it was a night dedicated to the people of Derry as the Candystripes returned to the Brandywell in spectacular fashion, and with it came some poignant thoughts for the great players lost in the past two seasons.

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Despite a hugely disappointing start to the season which has seen Derry lose three of their four games in the league, including a 6-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, Shiels’ men brilliantly dispatched Limerick 5-0 last night.   

On-loan Ronan Hale bagged a hat-trick, the first of which was scored at the ‘McBride End’, said the City boss.

Shiels told the Derry Journal: "Ronan was really good. But the thing I was hoping for was that the first goal back at the Brandywell would be scored at the McBride end of the stadium. And it was in the McBride end it was scored.

"If you look up towards Ryan's grave it's up parallel to where the goal was scored if you look up at the cemetery and that was significant in my thoughts. I'm pleased the first goal was scored in the McBride end of the stadium."

There were several special moments for City.

Republic of Ireland manager and Derry native Martin O’Neill officially opened the Mark Farren Stand, dedicated to the club’s all-time scorer who died just over two years ago at the age of 33.

Fans sang his name as the ribbon was cut, while after five minutes all the supporters in the ground used lights on their phone to create a special scene in honour of their captain and number five McBride.

Shiels was worried the occasion would get to his young team, but they produced some excellent football and created a night to remember for supporters who had not stepped foot in the Brandywell for a year and-a-half.

"I was worried because it's my responsibility as the first team manager to produce a product that's appealing to the local people who have been devoid of that for 16 or 17 months. Now they're back and we're back and I would want every day to be like that.

"The happiness I saw on the faces of the people that were there tonight makes me feel good. So they've given us new energy and it was about the supporters tonight and what we could do for them.

"I wanted to show them we are conscientious and appreciative of what they bring here. We want to give them something back and hopefully we can do that this season.

"We had to give something back to the city tonight.

"There was this big fanfare for the game and I was worried sick, I really was because I've managed teams in front of 60,000 or 70,000 supporters with no nerves at all but tonight was nerve-wrecking because I knew the average guy from the Brandywell, Creggan, Shantallow or wherever they had been deprived of their fortnightly trip down to see their local team.

"So coming back tonight they were anticipating and expecting a performance because there was a full house and they wanted to have a good time.

"I'm the guy who makes the selections and makes the mistakes and I wanted to make sure the night was for them.

"Hopefully we repaid them in a way in which it's good to be back and they can't wait until Friday night as it was a good atmosphere and the entertainment was good from our perspective."