Derry City moved one step closer to European qualification yesterday afternoon as the in-form Candystripes dismantled a lacklustre Limerick side at Maginn Park.
Early first half goals from Barry McNamee, Rory Patterson and a second half strike from Ben Doherty gave the Candystripes all three points and a comfortable third place position, 5 points clear of rivals Shamrock Rovers.
Kenny Shiels made two changes to the side that defeated North-West rivals Finn Harps 2-0 in Ballybofey on Monday night. Aaron Barry returns from suspension to replace Eoin Toal in the Derry back four, while Ronan Curtis returns to the squad after being left out of Monday Night’s fixture due to “disciplinary reasons”.
It was the Foylesiders who took the lead after just 30 seconds on the clock after a horrendous backpass from Joe Crowe found its way into the path of Barry McNamee who rounded Brendan Clarke in the Limerick goal to slot home his 9th goal of the season.
The Candystripe’s didn’t give Limerick a chance in the opening minutes of the game and soon doubled their lead on 8 minutes. A Conor McDermott cross found the feet of Rory Patterson inside the Limerick 18 yard box who then rifled home, possibly taking a touch off Lukas Schubert on its way past Clarke in the Limerick goal.
City continued to mount pressure and should have scored a third after Ronan Curtis did well to bring the ball down in the box, only to have his resulting effort pushed wide by an alert Brendan Clarke. Limerick did eventually get a shot on the board on 16 minutes after Rodrigo Tosi managed to shrug off Aaron Barry to play in Chiedozie Ogbene, only to have his toothless effort flash wide of the goal.
On 23 minutes, Derry City’s Aaron McEneff was dispossessed by Stephen Kenny on the half way line, tempting the midfielder to have a long range attempt to catch Doherty off his line, however his effort sailed high and wide past the goal.
Brendan Clarke was a busy man yesterday afternoon and was soon called into action on 28 minutes when the former St Pats man gathered Aaron McEneff’s 25 yard strike comfortably. Limerick got their first shot on target on the half hour mark as Stephen Kenny called Doherty into action for the first time as the Derry keeper got down to his left hand side well to save Kenny’s effort comfortably.
The Candystripes looked to increase the score line before half time and nearly did so after a fantastic cross from Dean Jarvis could only be headed wide by Rory Patterson on 32 minutes. In the closing minutes of the half, good build up play allowed Nicky Low to have a shot from 25 yards, an effort which was well saved by Clarke. Kenny Shiels’ men lead 2-0 going into the break.
In a half that left a lot to be desired, the first bit of action came just after the hour mark when pacey forward Ogbene broke in attack, only to have his attack cut short by a sensational recovery challenge in the 18 yard box from Darren Cole.
Another chance fell to the feet of Rory Patterson on 66 minutes, after some fantastic play from McDermott and Schubert down the right, Schubert pulled a ball back to Patterson who blazed his effort over the crossbar from 12 yards when he really should have scored.
City were comfortable in the game due to Limerick offering nothing of any real substance to trouble the Foylesiders and a win was on the cards going into the closing minutes of the game. With the final whistle looming, City had a few chances in the closing minutes including a free kick drilled wide of the target by Aaron McEneff on 81 minutes. However it was 80th minute substitute Ben Doherty who would seal all three points for the Candystripes on 84 minutes.
After a horrendous scuffed clearance from Dean Clarke, Limerick’s day went from bad to worse as Doherty was first to react to stab home his first Derry City goal, securing all three points for Kenny Shiels’ men.
Derry City: G Doherty, McDermott, Cole, Barry, Jarvis, McEneff, Low (Holden 87), Schubert (Boyle 80), McNamee, Curtis (B Doherty 80), Patterson;
Limerick: B Clarke; D Clarke, Whitehead, Crowe, O’Connor; Ogbene, Duggan, Lynch, Cameron (Hery 57); Kenny (O’Loughlin 90); Tosi (O’Flynn 57)