Padraic Cunningham was in inspiring form as he helped Galway United to a comfortable victory over Joseph N'Do's Mayo League in the the first round of the EA Sports Cup with a 16-minute hat-trick
The 19-year-old striker made the most of his first start of the season with a thrilling opening half display to plunder a trio of strikes which the hapless Mark Duffy could do nothing to deny.
Having suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Derry City at the Brandywell in the Premier Division, the Corribsiders will be delighted to have bounced back convincingly with a cup win. Overall, they dominated possession and created chances with ease, and it took them just two minutes to rattle the back of the net when Cunningham blasted a low-driven ball in from 20 yards, to the keeper's right to set the tone for his evening.
Two more goals followed for him as he completed his hat-trick thanks to a combination of excellent poaching and woeful defending. The second, netted in the 14th minute, saw him bundle the ball over the line from close range, while his final goal arrived via a tap-in from six yards.
The visitors offered little going forward and their only real chance in the opening period was a long-range effort from Danny Broderick in the 29th minute which United custodian Kevin Horgan was able to collect with ease.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first as Dunne's charges aimed to assert their dominance and the fantastic Cunningham almost made it four for the night when he nicked a ball over Cillian McGlade's head before powering an effort straight at Duffy inside the area.
Former Cameroon international and player-manager N'Do popped up before the hour mark to fire an effort on goal for the visiting side after cutting in from the left flank, but the former League of Ireland legend could not rattle the net.
It was not long before Mayo League pulled one back as they began to play better. A surging run through the middle and a nicely-weighted pass from Conor Byrne set JP O' Gorman through to beat Kevin Horgan in the 62nd minute.
Galway's superior clinical touch ensured they came away with the win and even blooded in a few youngsters like Andrew Connolly and Jesse Devers along the way, despite losing some of their composure as the contest dragged on. Indeed, if not for a super save by Duffy to deny a well-executed Eric Foley free kick from 25 yards in the 75th minute, this could have been a much wider margin of victory.