Derry City confirmed fourth place in the league and ensured they were still in the hunt for European qualification by hammering a woefully out of sorts Limerick side at the Brandywell on Friday evening.
A David McDaid hattrick as well as goals from Michael Rafter, Dean Jarvis and Simon Madden ensured that no matter what the result in Tallaght, Derry were assured of the coveted fourth spot finish. The Candystripes will be crossing their fingers that Sligo win the FAI cup as that will see them once again play in Europe next season.
Things could not have started much better for the Foylesiders as they attempted to settle their nerves in this must win game. First off Rory Patterson cracked a superb 25 yard strike off the upright in the third minute to signal the home sides intent.
Three minutes later they took the lead when Barry McNamee sent a corner to the back post. Ryan McBride headed it back across goal and Michael Rafter had the simple task of nodding it in. Derry continued to play the better football for most of the first half which, bar a David McDaid half chance and an odd goalmouth scramble, turned out to be a half without any great chances of note.
The second half, however, was possibly the most one sided game of football in years. Derry City scored five without reply in this period and as each goal went in you could almost physically see Limerick wilting a little more each time.
The rout began in the 47th minute when a great run from Patrick McEleney saw him make it to the byeline from where he cut the ball back to McDaid who opened his account with a cool side foot into the net. In the 62nd minute a similar run, this time by Rory Patterson, saw him clip a cross in, again to McDaid, who made no mistake from a few yards out.
Derry were rampant at this point and looked like scoring every time they got the ball. Derry were awarded a corner in the 66th minute and McNamee took it short to Madden. His cross found the head of Dean Jarvis who made it four. Three minutes later and the crowd were in raptures as a Patterson cross again and found McDaid who coolly completed his hatrick from six yards.
In the 80th minute the coup de grace came in the form of a delightful McEleney through ball, finding Madden who had all day to dink it over Shane Cusack in the Limerick goal. Kieran Hanlon did, amazingly, hit the bar for Limerick a minute later from two yards out but the match was well and truly beyond Limerick by that stage.
Derry were still pressing right up until the final whistle and both Ryan Curran and Rory Patterson could have added to the score before the end came. It was an ultra professional performance from Derry but Limerick looked like a side who had little to play for at the seasons end.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden (Eoghan Osborne 87), Barry Molloy (c), Ryan McBride, Dean Jarvis; Patrick McEleney, Ryan Curran, Barry McNamee, David McDaid (Raymond Foy 73); Michael Rafter (Mark Griffin 75), Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Paddy Kavanagh, Michael Duffy.
Booked: Madden (36).
Limerick FC: Shane Cusack; Stephen Folan, Shaun Kelly (c), Colm Murphy, Tony Whitehead; Stephen Bradley, Jason Hughes (Kieran Hanlon 78), David O'Leary, Barry Sheedy (Darragh Rainsford 65), Carel Tiofack (James McGrath 76); Rory Gaffney.
Subs not used: Nathan Murray, Val Feeney, Shane Costelloe, Robbie Williams.
Booked: Hughes (63), Gaffney (71).
Referee: Paul McLoughlin.
Attendance: 1,400 (estimate).
ExtraTime.ie Man of the Match: David McDaid (Derry City).