Curtis hat-trick propels Derry to EA semi-finals

Ronan Curtis scored a first half hat-trick as Derry City, record 10-time winners of the competition, beat First Division Shelbourne 7-3 in a thrilling goal-fest last eight tie at the Brandywell to book their place in the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup.

The opening half hour brought five goals as Derry were ahead after just six minutes, Ronan Hale playing Curtis in to lob advancing Shels keeper Lee Steacy.

Former Republic of Ireland U21 winger Curtis doubled the Candystripes’ lead nine minutes later when rounding Steacy to shoot home. Shels hit back to level with a brace from Davy O’Sullivan inside eight minutes.

The Reds’ striker pulled a goal back on 21 minutes with a composed finish before equalising from the penalty spot.

Ronan Hale put Derry back in front on 36 minutes with Curtis sliding home a Ben Doherty cross to complete his hat-trick four minutes later.

Within two minutes, Aaron McEneff extended Derry’s lead to 5-2 from the penalty spot.

James English gave Shels hope with their third goal on 81 minutes. But Nicky Low made it 6-3 for Derry seven minutes from time with substitute Nathan Boyle adding a seventh goal on 90 minutes.

In the First Division, Jason McClelland also scored a hat-trick as UCD scarcely missed suspended top soccer Georgie Kelly in trouncing Wexford 8-0 at Ferrycarrig Park.

A club record win stretches UCD’s lead at the top of the table to six points. The defeat is Wexford’s biggest since entering the league in 2007.

Defender Liam Scales put the Students in front when heading home McClelland’s 13th minute corner.

The visitors added to that just before the half-hour. A Daire O’Connor shot came back off a post to give Yoyo Mahdy a tap-in.

UCD eased to their eighth win of the season with a six-goal second-half spree.

Wexford keeper Kealan Gaffney pushed McClelland’s initial shot onto a post with the midfielder scooping home the rebound 12 minutes after the break.

McClelland promptly added his second from a Kevin Coffey assist with skipper Gary O’Neill pouncing on a defensive mistake to make it 5-0.

O’Neill then crossed for Mahdy to score with a header on 67 minutes before adding his second six minutes later.

Conor Crowley then played McClelland in to net his hat-trick on 79 minutes.

Jesse Devers scored a dramatic 94th minute winner as Finn Harps beat Galway United 1-0 at Finn Park to move up to second in the table.

For the second match running, substitute Paddy McCourt worked the oracle for Harps, threading a pass through for Devers to score with a half volley to give the Donegal side a fourth successive win.

  • The Athlone Town consortium, a group representing supporters of the troubled First Division club, have reiterated their call for the management committee of the club to step down.

In a statement highlighting their grievances, they said: “We continue to be concerned about the future for our club and once again call on the current committee to stand down immediately for the good of Athlone Town AFC.”

Athlone are yet to win a First Division game in 2018.

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