Curtis hits hat-trick as Derry City cruise into semi-finals

Ronan Curtis netted a first half hat-trick as Derry City brushed off First Division outfit Shelbourne to book their place in the EA Sports Cup semi-finals.
Ronan Curtis netted a first half hat-trick as Derry City brushed off First Division outfit Shelbourne to book their place in the EA Sports Cup semi-finals.

Derry City 7, Shelbourne 3

RONAN Curtis netted a first half hat-trick as Derry City romped to an emphatic victory over Shelbourne to book their place in the EA Sports League Cup semi-finals.

The Ireland U21 striker, who is expected to sign for League One club, Portsmouth in the coming weeks, scored twice in the opening 15 minutes to kickstart a goal-fest at Brandywell.

The First Division outfit hit back with two quickfire goals from David O'Sullivan - his second from the penalty spot - to stun the home support.

City restored their lead with a terrific volley from Ronan Hale before the in-form Curtis completed his treble with a tap-in to take his season's tally to seven.

Aaron McEneff fired in Derry's fifth from the penalty spot after Ronan Hale went to ground inside the box.

Substitute, James English drilled home Shels' third on 80 minutes but Nicky Low restored City's three goal cushion three minutes later.

And City sub, Nathan Boyle rolled in the home side's seventh of the evening in stoppage time for his first of the season as the Candy Stripes sailed into the last four.

It was the 100th competitive meeting between the two sides and the first since 2013 and the first half certainly didn't disappoint with seven goals.

Shiels made three changes to the team which suffered a shock loss to Bray last Friday with Eoin Toal, Ben Doherty and Ronan Curtis restored to the starting XI.

Despite the absence of Rory Patterson, it was a strong selection from Shiels who is intent on winning his first piece of silverware this season.

It was clear the home side were well up for this one right from the off and Nicky Low should've found the net after just three minutes.

Curtis showed terrific desire to win the ball back inside the Shels box and cut inside to Low who did well to hold off his marker but screwed his close range shot from a narrow angle wide of the far post.

Sixty seconds later City did find the back of the net as Ronan Hale set Curtis scampering clear with a neat ball over the top and the striker showed composure to lift it confidently over the out-rushing Lee Steacy and into the net.

McEneff came close with an audacious 30 yard chip which sailed narrowly over the crossbar.

City were cruising and doubled their lead on 15 minutes. McEneff found Curtis with a stunning crossfield pass and the striker sold the keeper a dummy before coolly slotting into the empty net at the near post.

Low then forced a good save from Steacy who turned his left footed strike behind for a corner on 19 minutes.

Out of nothing Shels hit back as Gavin Boyne released O'Sullivan who beat the offside trap before calmly steering the ball past Gerard Doherty and into the corner,

Ronan Hale and Curtis linked up well on 25 minutes with the latter sending his deflected strike behind for a corner.

Referee, Damien MacGraith awarded the Dubliners a penalty kick on 27 minutes when Jack Doyle was harshly adjudged to have brought down Shane Farrell inside the box.

Up stepped O'Sullivan who sent Doherty the wrong way from the spot to level the game.

Derry were back in front eight minutes later from a throw-in deep in the Shels half which was flicked on by Curtis and volleyed into the corner of the net by Ronan Hale from 12 yards.

Curtis completed his hat-trick five minutes before the interval following a brilliant move involving Low and Doherty who squared the ball to the striker for a tap-in and Derry's fourth.

Three minutes later Ronan Hale was brought crashing to the ground inside the Shels penalty box and the referee pointed to the spot. Leading scorer, McEneff took responsibility and added a fifth to put City firmly in the driving seat at the break.

It was a subdued second half in comparison but Shels managed to fire in a third when a long punt upfield found English who drilled his shot into the roof of the net.

Derry restored their three goal advantage moments later when substitute, John Cofie dispossessed the keeper and Low chipped the ball into the empty net.

Shels skipper, Dave Muilcahy hit the post with a header before substitute Nathan Boyle completed the rout in stoppage time.

Derry City: G. Doherty; D. Cole, G. Peers, E. Toal, J. Doyle (N. Boyle 62); Ronan Hale, N. Low, R. Hale (J. McDonagh 54), B. Doherty; A. McEneff; R. Curtis (J. Cofie 77); Subs Not Used - E. Grimes, C. McDermott, R. Patterson, N. Logue,

Shelbourne: L. Steacy; J. Woods, D. Prendergast, D. Mulcahy, R. McEnteer; J. Doyle, C. Kavanagh, G. Boyne (J. English 53), J. O'Brien, S. Farrell (A. Evans 60); D. O'Sullivan; Subs Not Used - D. Delany, J. Brown, M. Hughes,A. Byrne, L. Fitzgerald.

Referee - Damien MacGraith.