EA Sports Cup Final: Derry City 3-1 Cobh Ramblers

Ronan Hale hit Derry opening goal in the 23rd minute
Ronan Hale hit Derry City's opening goal in the 23rd minute

Derry City won their first trophy in six years when they defeated Cobh Ramblers 3-1 to lift the EA Sports Cup.

A second-half header from Darren Cole and a penalty from Aaron McEneff won the final at the Brandywell for the Premier Division side against their First Division opponents.

Ronan Hale hit the opener for Derry but a Chris Hull equaliser meant the sides were level at half-time.

Candystripes captain Gerard Doherty saved a late Shane O'Connor penalty.

It's the 11th time Derry City have won the League Cup - more than any other side - and their first trophy under manager Kenny Shiels.

Their next game is an FAI Cup quarter-final at home to Bohemians on Wednesday.

Lively Hale an early threat

Hale's opener came in the 23rd minute when he made the most of a mistake by Cobh defender James McSweeney to cut inside Gordon Walker and hit a left-footed drive in at the near post.

The lively frontman was full of running in the early stages and was the biggest threat for Shiels' side.

The lead only lasted three minutes as Cole failed to clear a low Kevin Taylor cross and it was bundled home from close range at the back post by Hull.

Derry celebrate winning the League Cup for the first time since 2011
Derry celebrate winning the League Cup for the first time since 2011

Cole made amends when he headed Derry ahead in the 54th minute. The defender was unmarked from a corner and planted a powerful header past keeper Adam Mylod.

McEneff capped a fine individual performance by securing the victory with a penalty 18 minutes from time.

Ian Mylod pushed Jamie McDonagh in the box and McEneff squeezed his spot-kick past Adam Mylod despite the keeper getting a hand on it.

Cobh were awarded a penalty of their own in the 87th minute when Cole brought down David Hurley, but Doherty dived low to his left to produce a brilliant save from O'Connor's spot-kick.

Strong start to second-half pays off for Derry

Derry's first-half performance was lacking in intensity and manager Shiels will have been looking for a major improvement after the break.

He got that almost straight from the whistle as the Premier Division side stepped up the tempo of their play and threatened to regain the lead three times before Cole hit their second.

Hale made a fantastic run in the inside right channel on 47 minutes to latch on to Jamie McDonagh's pass. He cut inside his marker cleverly - not unlike he did for the opening goal - but his shot was saved.

Aaron McEneff came close to scoring twice before he found the net from the spot
Aaron McEneff came close to scoring twice before he found the net from the spot

McEneff then had a dipping half-volley that was tipped over the crossbar and Ben Fisk had two shots saved before Cole delivered the second goal that regained the lead and calmed the nerves of the Candystripes supporters.

'We won it for the people of Derry'

Derry boss Shiels said it was fitting that his side won the trophy in a stadium which councillors have voted to rename after the late Derry captain Ryan McBride.

The 27-year-old died in March last year and the foundation set up in his name proposed renaming the Brandywell in his memory.

"It's fantastic to win this trophy and so befitting to do so in a stadium which is set to be named after Ryan," Shiels told Eir Sport.

"Ryan meant so much to us and to the people of Derry, and that is who we wanted to win it for.

"The young players at our club respond to the demands of the fans and it's great for them to have the experience of winning a major cup."

Derry City: Doherty, McDonagh, Cole, Seaborne, McHattie; McEneff, Rory Hale (McNamee 93), Splaine (Low 64); Shiels, Ronan Hale, Fisk (Delap 75).

Cobh Ramblers: A Mylod, Taylor, O'Riordan (Donnellan 73), McSweeney, Christopher (Flemming 61), Hurley, I Mylod, Hull, Fernandes (Leonard 82), Walker, O'Connor.