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Thursday 27 April 2017

Loss of McBride is so hard to take in

Derry City captain Ryan McBride died at the at age of 27. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Derry City captain Ryan McBride died at the at age of 27. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

All of a sudden, a push for the league title on what would be the 20th anniversary of the club's last Premier Division triumph seems very unimportant.

Derry City FC, and Derry city as a whole, are today again morning the loss of their captain Ryan McBride, the man who should tonight be leading out the side for a Premier Division game at home to Limerick, where a win would have seen them go joint top of the Premier Division table.

With dreadful reality, a funeral, not a football match, is the talk of the region as on Thursday, the Derry players and supporters will gather to bury their captain.

Tragedy

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill knows that the tragedy will have torn his player, ex-Derry star James McClean. "He's very upset obviously as he played with the lad. He's pretty devastated," said O'Neill.

"It's devastating for the family, for someone to knock on the door and find out that a young lad of 27 in the prime of his life doesn't wake up. It's a real blow. This time last week, I'm sure he was enjoying life and now suddenly it's gone."

It was always a short trip for the footballer to go and play for his hometown team as the Brandywell stadium was only a long throw away from the family home, on Bluebell Hill Gardens in the city.

His last journey will be short, as the City Cemetery in Derry is again very, very close to the Brandywell.

It's hard for anyone involved to even think about football at this time. Manager Kenny Shiels, a veteran coach with cross-channel experience, whose family suffered trauma in the Troubles, broke down during a radio interview while trying to speak about the man who had been his captain at the club.

All of tonight's scheduled games in the League Cup have been called off as a mark of respect. Derry's own matches, against Limerick (tonight) and Galway United (Saturday) are also postponed.

The young men in the Derry dressing room should not be so used to grieving but in the space of 13 months they have endured loss and loss.

"It's going to be very difficult, and the reason why is that we have a lot of young players. They are wains, that's all they are and it's going to be very difficult but we will do everything in our power to galvanise. We are Derry City," club chairman Philip O'Doherty said.

"Kenny (Shiels) is struggling, as we all are, the man is devastated. But we will all get together and be here for each other. We will get Kenny, and all the players, through this. And we will not shirk responsibility to the younger players because that's what Ryan would have wanted."

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