Saturday 24 February 2018

'A great captain, friend and team-mate' - Derry City pay poignant tribute to Ryan McBride

Ryan McBride of Derry City after their win over Dundalk last week
Ryan McBride of Derry City after their win over Dundalk last week

Aidan Fitzmaurice and Ger Keville

Derry City have paid a poignant tribute to their captain Ryan McBride, who passed away at the age of 27 yesterday (Sunday).

The Derry-born defender played in the club's 4-0 win over Drogheda on Saturday and scored against Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk in recent weeks as the Candystripes started the season with four wins from four games.

The news has been met with widespread shock and tributes have been pouring in for the popular defender.

It was reported locally that defender McBride was found dead at his home in Derry last night. The cause of death is unknown.

According to the Derry Journal the player was found dead in his bed. The newspaper is reporting that crowds of supporters gathered outside his home at Bluebell Hill Gardens.

"Derry City Football Club is deeply saddened by the untimely death of our captain, Ryan McBride," read a statement from Derry City.

"Our prayers and thoughts are with his father, Lexie, his sisters Colleen, Siuinin and Caitlain, and his partner Mairead who are heartbroken at his loss.

"We are also conscious of his teammates and our management and support staff. Ryan was a player and a great captain but he was also their friend and teammate. They are deeply shocked and will miss his inspiration and his leadership.

"Our supporters are also shocked and saddened. To them, Ryan was Derry City through and through. The commitment and passion he brought on to the field is the bond that binds player and supporter.

"In the hearts and minds of all of us and long into the future Ryan McBride will be remembered as one of the greats of Derry City Football Club.

"We are also conscious that this is the anniversary of the death of the members of the McGrotty and Daniels family in Buncrana and it is only a short time since we remembered Mark Farren’s death.

"It is at times like this that we are reminded that our Club is also a community of people. As in the past, that community will come together to comfort and support Ryan’s family.

"In the coming days and weeks we will grieve the loss of our captain and our friend. Sometime in the future, when we have got past the initial shock and have had the proper space to grieve his loss, we will find a way to celebrate his life. We will remember his civility and humility off the field, his commitment and passion on it and the deep love he carried in his heart for Derry City Football Club.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam."

President Michael D Higgins has paid his respects to the Derry City captain.

"Along with all those who support Irish football, I express my sadness and condolences to the family of Derry City FC Captain Ryan McBride," said President Higgins.

Current manager of champions Dundalk, Stephen Kenny, was the Derry boss when McBride made his breakthrough and, speaking on RTE radio this morning, he said he didn't believe the news when he first heard it. 

"When the news came in, I couldn't believe it. These days anything is possible on social media so I actually didn't believe it," said Kenny.

"Of course, he had played last week. We brought our Dundalk team up to play Derry City in Buncrana and he scored the winning goal.

"He scored the winning goal from a corner kick, his trademark and I shook hands and was chatting to him. I can't believe the news."

While most young kids in Ireland dream of making it in professional football across the water, McBride grew up dreaming of gracing the pitch at the Brandywell for his beloved Derry.

"If anyone knows the Brandywell area of Derry, he lived in the houses right connected to the pitch," added Kenny.

"I used to say to him that he could watch the matches from his bedroom window. His house overlooked the Brandywell."

Roddy Collins, who managed Derry from November 2013 to May 2014, also paid tribute to McBride.

"I couldn't believe it last night when it came through. Unbelievable," he told Newstalk.

"A great kid, an absolute great young fella, that's why I have taken the call. Hard as nails, old fashioned, just a good man.

"You manage hundreds of players in your career and few of them stick in your memory but he was one that did because he was such a genuine young fella.

"I had difficult times up there in the dressing room and he was one that in his own quiet way was so supportive. He was an absolute trojan. He was a quiet young fella, he wasn't vocal but he was as tough as they come. There was no more committed player in my time in football. Very sad, really really sad." 

This is the latest tragedy to strike the Brandywell club. Last year, popular striker Mark Farren died at the age of 33 after battling with a brain tumour. Also last year, current Derry player Josh Daniels lost his mother, sister, brother in law and nephews in the Buncrana pier tragedy.

Tributes

McBride, who began playing for his home-town team Derry in 2011 and starred for the side alongside current Republic of Ireland star James McClean, had played in all four games for City this season, most recently Saturday's 4-0 win over Drogheda United.

His former manager at Derry, current Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny, and former team-mate McClean were at RTE headquarters in Dublin attending the FAI International awards when news came through.

McClean will be excused from training with the senior Ireland team this week to attend the funeral.

Derry were due to play at home to Limerick in a rearranged Premier Division game tomorrow night but it's almost certain that tie will not now go ahead.

Tributes have been pouring in from around the Irish football community with players, ex-players, and clubs offering their condolences.

"Can't believe the tragic news I've just heard about Ryan Mcbride... An absolute warrior on the pitch. Thoughts are with his family," wrote Galway United midfielder Gavan Holohan.

"We are shocked to hear this evening the passing of our member and @derrycityfc Captain Ryan McBride. Our thoughts are with his family," wrote PFAI Ireland.

"No words. Devastating," wrote Erin McClean, wife of Irish international and former teammate James McClean.

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