Kenny Shiels pays emotional tribute to Ryan McBride as Derry bring down curtain on tough year
KENNY SHIELS has paid tribute to his Derry City players for somehow managing to stay competitive throughout a season that will forever be associated with the tragic loss of skipper Ryan McBride.
The curtain came down on the Candystripes' 2017 campaign last night when they drew 1-1 with a St Patrick's Athletic side that was delighted to avoid relegation.
Derry finished fourth in the table, a position that is enough to secure European qualification, and Shiels acknowledged afterwards that he was proud of his group after a challenging year following the sudden death of their skipper and leader McBride in March.
In discussing his highlights of a term that Derry spent in a temporary base in Maginn Park, Buncrana while the Brandywell is being renovated, McBride immediately sprung to Shiels' mind.
"Beating Dundalk here and Ryan scoring the final goal is very vivid in my recollections of the season," he said.
Five balloons released into the air to honour Ryan McBride after Derry's season ending lap of honour and goodbye to Maginn Park pic.twitter.com/h5UTbONN53— Daniel McDonnell (@McDonnellDan) October 27, 2017
"I felt over the season we've done well to get the amount of points we did under a lot of stress and emotional balance. I have to say the team, under the circumstances, have performed exceptionally well."
Shiels has opened up in recent weeks about the toll that keeping the show on the road took on him, and those thoughts were fresh in his mind when asked about how everyone involved at the club had dealt with eight testing months.
"I'm part of the support staff, I'm just one of them," said Shiels, "I don't want to talk about how I've done it because it's been very demanding, mentally demanding, emotionally demanding and it causes you to go into the two extremes of happiness and sadness. That's the way I was over the whole piece.
There were highs and lows and no moderation or any normality within the season. It was very seldom where you could feel normal and it's been very hard for all of us; I can only talk about myself and I haven't felt comfortable this season in terms of how I think and how I prepare probably because I brought it upon myself and I feel the responsibility to a lot of people.
"You feel responsibility for your team, your supporters, your staff, for your whole club. In these circumstances the manager has to step up and sometimes you question your strength and your character doing that. You try and do it the best of your ability and sometimes you question yourself.
"Hopefully we've done enough to give people some happiness leaving at the end of the season."