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Hale waves wand and fires Derry into Cup decider

EA Sports League Cup: Sligo Rovers 0 Derry City 1

By Eoin Wilson

Rory Hale fired Derry City into their first League Cup final since 2011 with a stunning winner at the Sligo Showgrounds.

Despite playing with a makeshift team, the Candystripes produced a heroic performance to see off Sligo and set up a meeting with Cobh Ramblers, who sensationally defeated Dundalk.

Sligo were having great joy down the right wing in the early stages with Chris Twardek in particular giving Ben Doherty a difficult time.

The winger got in behind Doherty and created a real chance for Lewis Morrison but, unmarked just eight yards out, he missed the ball completely and the chance was gone.

But it was Derry who took the lead midway through the half and it was courtesy of a sensational effort from Rory Hale.

A quick Derry break saw Ronan Hale up against a number of Sligo defenders, but he eluded a challenge before picking out brother Rory on the edge of the area.

The senior Hale skipped past a challenge from John Mahon before driving the ball like a bullet into the top corner beyond the outstretched hands of Mitchell Beeney to make it 1-0.

It could well have been 2-0 to Derry before the break as another incisive break forward caught Sligo cold and, when Ben Fisk's cross was pulled back across goal by Ronan Hale, Aaron McEneff dummied the ball into the path of Dean Shiels who looked certain to score, only for David Cawley to produce a heroic block to keep the ball out of the net.

Sligo were frustrated in their efforts to respond, but another chance fell their way again just before the break when Twardek's cross was brought down by Mikey Drennan, who laid the ball off for an unmarked Morrison, but his curling effort was lame and sailed over Gerard Doherty's bar.

The second half was remarkably tense as Sligo tried to get back into the game, but it was very nearly Derry who scored again as Rory Hale brought a save out of Beeney with Fisk just missing the rebound.

Rovers boss Gerard Lyttle threw on Raffaele Cretaro in the closing stages, and the veteran very nearly saved his team, but his deflected shot was brilliantly saved by Doherty, who pushed the ball around the post for a corner.

Sligo kept pushing, and they thought they had their equaliser when Twardek's ball went right across goal and Cawley thought he had turned it home, only for Doherty to somehow get a hand to it and claw it away in style to safety.

Five minutes of added time only added to the tension but it is Derry who go through to the final on September 15.

SLIGO ROVERS: Beeney, McClean, Drennan, Twardek, McFadden, McCabe, Donelan (McAleer 84), Cawley, Morrison (Cretaro 59), Lynch, Mahon.

DERRY CITY: Doherty, McDermott (Delap 79), Seaborne, McEneff, Splaine, Rory Hale, Fisk (McBride 88), Shiels, Doherty, Ronan Hale, McHattie.

Referee: G Kelly

Man of the Match: Rory Hale

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