DERRY CITY: McNamee nets second half hat-trick to down Drogs
Derry City 4, Drogheda 0
BARRY McNAMEE netted a magnificent hat-trick inside eight minutes of the second half as Derry City maintained a perfect start to their Airtricity Premier Division campaign with victory over Drogheda United at Maginn Park.
Ronan Curtis celebrated his call-up to the Republic of Ireland's U21 squad for the Euro 2019 opener against Kosovo, with his first goal of the season four minutes before half-time.
Drogheda's former Ireland international, Stephen Elliott could have netted a hat-trick of his own on another day but wasted three glorious chances in the opening 45 minutes.
Described by City boss, Kenny Shiels as a 'poet laureate' after his goal and excellent display in the 3-1 win over Dundalk on Monday night, McNamee came to the fore with three superbly taken goals.
The Ramelton man added City's second on 75 minutes when he nipped in front of the Drogs' defence and poked the ball past Stephen McGuinness.
He netted his second to end the game as a contest when he rifled in a shot from the edge of the box.
And on 83 minutes his stunning free-kick from 25 yards completed an outstanding second half for the Candy Stripes who close the gap on leaders Cork to three points with a game in hand.
Shiels made three changes to the side which secured that fantastic victory over Dundalk last Monday night.
Lukas Schubert returned from suspension and reclaimed his right back berth while Josh Daniels came in for Harry Monaghan and Mark Timlin was handed his first start of the season.
Drogheda created the first chance of the match despite Derry's early dominance on two minutes when Gavin Brennan's flicked header went the wrong side of the post from Conor Kane's free-kick.
City skipper, Ryan McBride almost capitalised from Aaron McEneff's inswinging free-kick on nine minutes but as the centre half flung his body at the ball he failed to get a telling touch at the back post.
Derry increased the tempo and after lovely work on the left touchline from Josh Daniels who put the ball neatly through the legs of Deasy, Curtis drive towards goal but his shot from the edge of the box sailed harmlessly wide.
Barry McNamee probably should've done better when he got on the end of Timlin's cross from the left but the midfielder's downward header bounced off the surface and went wide.
For all Derry's dominance Drogheda striker, Elliott could've netted twice in the space of five minutes. On 28 minutes the striker beat the offside trap and found himself one-on-one with Gerard Doherty who closed down the angle and saved brilliantly with his outstretched left hand.
The ex-Republic of Ireland striker was then gifted a free header eight yards from goal but he headed over the bar from Shane Elworthy's cross.
Curtis got on the end of a superb ball from Low and with Ciaran McGuigan and goalkeeper, Stephen McGuinness closing the ball down, the City striker sent a deft effort just over the bar.
Four minutes before the interval Curtis broke the deadlock as he picked up Daniels' cut back from the left, took a touch and drilled the ball low into the net.
Drogheda striker, Elliott had as great chance to equalise going into the break but Elworthy's cross bounced off his hip and went wide of the target.
It was far from comfortable for City at the start of the second half but when McNamee nipped in front of the Drogheda defence to pick up Curtis' knockdown, he poked it past McGuinness it was game over for the visitors with 15 minutes to play.
Two minutes later McNamee, described by Shiels after the Dundalk as a 'poet laureate' picked up the rebound when Daniels' strike was saved by the feet of McGuinness and rifled in his third goal in two matches.
And McNamee completed his hat-trick in fine style with a stunning curling free-kick into the corner of the net as City make it four wins from four.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Lukas Schubert, Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry, Dean Jarvis; Josh Daniels, Aaron McEneff, Nicky Low (Rory Holden 78), Mark Timlin (Nathan Boyle 64); Barry McNamee; Ronan Curtis (Mikhail Kennedy 78); Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, H. Monaghan, B. Doherty, S. Whiteside.
Drogheda Utd: Stephen McGuinness; Colm Deasy, Lloyd Buckley, Ciaran McGuigan, Conor Kane; Shane Elworthy (Thomas Byrne 58) Richie Purdy, Sean Thornton (Ryan McEvoy 83), Jake Hyland, Gavin Brennan (Gareth McCaffrey 66); Stephen Elliott; Subs Not Used - K. Farragher, S. Dunne, S. Brennan, D. Sweeney.
Referee - Ray Matthews (Longford).