Ronan Hale netted a hat-trick as Derry City hit Limerick for five in their first game back at the newly redeveloped Brandywell in eighteen months.
The game not only marked City’s first home game of the season but the opening of a new stand named after the late, great Mark Farren - the clubs all-time record goalscorer.
City fans have had to wait for their first home game of the season and had to wait a further ten minutes after a linesman saw something wrong with one of the nets.
When the game got going it was Limerick who settled quickest with a sustained period of possession as Derry City sat deep inside their own half.
Debutant Jack Doyle grew into the game, bringing his team with him providing a constant option out on the left.
One of his darting runs drove Derry up the pitch and when the ball was passed to the feet of Ronan Hale he let fly from the right corner of the box. His spectacular effort flew into the top left hand corner of the net to give his side a ninth minute lead.
Derry went on the attack straight from the restart with Ronan Curtis showing fast feet to play in Rory Patterson. His effort was gathered at the second attempt by Brendan Clarke.
Taking the lead really settled the home side as the provided a constant threat. Hale showed real confidence attempting to lob Clarke from 35 yards only for the ball to fall wide.
Seconds later the ball fell to Nicky Low at the edge of the box. Low did extremely well to keep his effort down but it caused Clarke no real problems.
With half time approaching Limerick did create a chance on the counter attack with Shaun Kelly. His low driven cross found its way to the back post as Danny Morrissey slid to try and direct it home he missed by mere inches and so City led at the break by the narrowest of margins only thanks to Hale’s spectacular strike.
Kenny Shiels’ men began the second half just as they finished the first, on the attack with Patterson trying his luck from 25 yards after a 60 yard run from Jack Doyle, but the shot well over.
Just after the hour mark Curtis doubled the home advantage showing real composure in the box to slot the ball beyond Clarke into the bottom right corner of the net in a fluid move that saw Doyle and Rory Hale link up.
Two minutes later it was three as Aaron McEneff tapped into an empty net after a spectacular City move.
Patterson’s back heel flick sent the ball into the path of Low who opted to go for a chipped effort over Clarke. It cannoned off the crossbar but falling to McEneff who slot home.
It went from bad to worse for the Munster men as Hale got his second after a period of pinball in the box. Clarke did well to save Curtis’ original effort only to be beaten by Hale at the second attempt.
Referee Ben Connolly awarded Derry City a penalty in the 73rd minute for a collision in the box.
Hale made no mistake from the spot blasting into the top right hand corner of the net to seal his hat-trick.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty, Conor McDermott, Aaron McEneff (Adrian Delap 82), Rory Hale, Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson, Eoin Toal, Darren Cole, Ronan Hale (Ben Doherty 77), Jack Doyle (Scot Whiteside 87), Nicky Low.
Subs Not Used: Eric Grimes, Dapo Kayode, Cathal Farren, Niall Logue.
Limerick: Brendan Clarke, Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead, Cian Coleman, Eoin Wearen (William Fitzgerald 17), Shane Duggan (Killian Cantwell 74), Danny Morrissey (Connor Ellis 59), Shane Tracey, Daniel Kearns, Billy Dennehy, Darren Dennehy.
Subs Not Used: Tommy Holland, Killian Brouder, Colm Walsh-O’Loghlen, Henry Cameron.
Booked: Shane Duggan (53), Cian Coleman (58).
Referee: Ben Connolly
Attendance: 2,500 (estimate)
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Ronan Hale (Derry City)