Cian Kavanagh nets hat-trick as Derry City stroll to pre-season win over Finn Harps

CIAN Kavanagh netted a hat-trick and Michael Duffy came off the bench to add a brace as Derry City began preseason with an emphatic win over Finn Harps at Brandywell.

It was second half sub, Sadou Diallo who stole the show, however, with a stunning strike from 30 yards to complete the rout in front of a sizeable crowd on Sunday afternoon at the Lone Moor Road venue.

Ruaidhri Higgins will set off to sunny Spain this week with his troops who resume pre-season preparation against FC Swift Hesperange of Luxembourg and Danish top flight outfit Aalborg BK at their camp in Alicante.

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"It was a really good run-out and it was badly needed after Wednesday night’s game getting called off,” said Higgins afterwards. “It was probably 10 weeks since our last game so the players were itching to get back on the pitch. We have a bit to do to get up to full speed but we’ll get there.

Cian Kavanagh celebrates his third goal during Derry City’s 6-0 victory over Finn Harps at Brandywell Stadium. Photo – George Sweeney

"It was a really good crowd there who had to pay a few quid on a Sunday afternoon to get in so we really appreciate it. It’s great and it’s good for the players as well to play in front of a decent crowd so fair play to our supporters.”

Higgins used a total of 21 players against an almost unrecognisable Harps team managed by former Candystripe Dave Rogers who named five trialists in the starting XI alongside Caoimhinn Porter and Daithi McCallion - both on loan from Derry.

New signings Ben Doherty and goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan got a run-out in the second half but it was very much a procession against their First Division opposition who are very much in their early transitional stages.

Derry dominated from the outset and when Cameron Dummigan received a pass into his feet from Patrick McEleney, his curling striker from 25 yards was comfortably saved by the Harps keeper five minutes into the match.

Kavanagh should’ve opened his account early on but miscued a glorious chance when unmarked six yards from goal and the keeper gathered. Moments later Liam Mullan tested the Harps stopper when he tried to bend the ball into the far corner but it was palmed away at full stretch.

Derry finally opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Evan McLaughlin, returning from his loan spell at Coleraine, split the Harps defence to find the run of Kavanagh who fired clinically past the keeper from distance.

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Jordan McEneff picked out Patrick McEleney in space 25 yards from goal from a corner kick and the skipper struck the crossbar with a sublime effort on the half volley.

City keeper Maher miscued his clearance and lost possession to one of Harps' trialist and when the City keeper attempted to apply pressure on the Harps striker not far from his halfway line, Harps worked the ball inside and a second Harps trialist, attempted an audacious lob from 45 yards which struck the upright with both Maher and Ciaran Coll retreating nervously.

Jordan McEneff tried his luck with a right footed volley which sat up nicely inside the penalty box but he dragged it narrowly wide on 25 minutes.

Kavanagh headed over from a cross from the right but on 35 minutes Graydon's clipped ball into the six yard box was headed into the open net by the big striker for his second of the evening. Again Patrick McEleney was instrumental in the move with a beautifully struck diagonal ball towards Graydon.

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The attendance marked the passing of Harps fanatic and steward, Ronan Roddy in the 44th minute with a minute's applause.

Higgins made eight changes at the start of the second half with just Ciaran Coll, McLaughlin and Kavanagh back out after the break.

New signings Doherty and Ryan were among the substitutes and the City keeper was called into action almost immediately as he blocked a free-kick from wide on the right.

Kavanagh completed his hat-trick on 52 minutes when substitute Conor Barr did brilliantly to find him at the back post and his header deflected off a Harps defender and into the net.

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Former Waterford hitman, Kavanagh was called ashore just after the hour mark and replaced by Jamie McGonigle who didn't have long to wait for his first chance in front of the Harps net. Duffy played him into space inside the box and he dragged his effort wide of the far post.

Duffy added a fourth for City on 64 minutes as he linked up superbly with Patching on the edge of the penalty area before poking the ball past the keeper from close range.

The City winger added his second 10 minutes later as he tapped-in the unselfish McGonigle's low cross across the face of the goalmouth.

Diallo netted the goal of the game two minutes later with a 30 yard strike which gave the Harps keeper no chance and it completed the rout.

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McGonigle had a late chance to find the net but sent his strike wide of the mark but there were some very positive early signs for Higgins who will have plenty to build on ahead of his trip to Spain this week where preparations can be expected to be taken up a notch.

Derry City: Maher (Ryan h-t): Boyce (Barr h-t), S. McEleney (McJannet (h-t), Coll; Graydon (Doherty h-t), McEneff (Patching h-t), Dummigan (Diallo h-t), E. McLaughlin (McCay 68); P. McEleney (Duffy h-t); Mullan (B. Kavanagh h-t), C. Kavanagh (McGonigle 61).