Derry City players mourn loss of captain Ryan McBride

President and Martin O’Neill lead tributes to Derry footballer who died aged 27 on Sunday

 

Northern Irish football club captain Ryan McBride has been described as an inspiring defender and on-pitch leader who was “a rock of strength on the field” following his death on Sunday at the age of 27.

President Michael D Higgins led tributes to the Derry City captain, posting on Twitter: “Along with all those who support Irish football, I express my sadness and condolences to the family of @derrycityfc Captain Ryan McBride.”

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill also offered his condolences to McBride’s family, describing the footballer’s death as “a tragic event”.

Meanwhile Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney said: “Irish football is in mourning with the loss of a true great of the game.

“I would like to pass on my deepest condolences to Ryan’s family, friends, and his club, Derry City FC, for which he was their leader, their captain and their inspiration.”

The FAI will pay tribute to McBride at Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

Meanwhile Derry’s next two matches – against Limerick on Tuesday and away to Galway on Saturday – have been postponed.

The midweek EA Sports Cup fixtures due to take place have also been called off as a mark of respect.

Cause of death unknown

The cause of McBride’s death is unknown. He was found dead in his bed by his father in the family home at Bluebell Hill Gardens on Sunday, just hours after the Derry City captain had met with his team-mates for a post-match warm-down.

The fans’ favourite lived beside his club’s Brandywell ground where he has played since 2011 and his club said he would be remembered by team-mates and supporters as one of the greats.

A Derry City statement said: “Ryan was a player and a great captain but he was also their friend and team-mate. “They are deeply shocked and will miss his inspiration and his leadership.”

He leaves his “heartbroken” father Lexie, sisters Colleen, Siunin and Caitlain and partner Mairead.

McBride, who turned 27 in December, had played 177 games for his club, 57 of them as captain, and scored 13 goals. He played twice for the club this week, in the wins against Dundalk and Drogheda United, but had been said to have felt unwell after the games. His last match was a 4-0 triumph over Drogheda United in the League of Ireland Premier Division on Saturday.

He made his debut for his home town club six years ago and was a firm favourite thanks in part to his committed style of defending.

McBride will be buried at the Derry city cemetery following a requiem Mass at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower at 10.00am on Thursday.

Devastated

Club officials met McBride’s team-mates on Monday morning in the Ramada Da Vinci Hotel to discuss the loss of one of the club’s most promising footballers.

Derry City FC chief executive Sean Barrett said the team were devastated at the loss of the young player and that Tuesday evening’s scheduled SSE Airtricity Premier League game against Limerick had been cancelled “as a mark of respect for Ryan”.

“His leadership on the field was inspiring,” said Mr Barrett. “His death is a loss to the community, to the club and to football in general.”

Team manager Kenny Shiels described the club captain as “a rock of strength on the field” and “a warrior on the field” who was “a quiet and unassuming gentle young man off the field”.

This is the second tragedy to strike the team in just over a year. Ex-Derry City and Glenavon striker Mark Farren died aged 33 in February 2016. Derry’s record goalscorer had been receiving treatment for an aggressive brain tumour.

Derry City midfielder Josh Daniels also suffered a family tragedy last year when his mother, Ruth, his sister Jodie-Lee, his brother-in-law Sean McGrotty and nephews Mark and Evan drowned when their car slid from a slipway at Buncrana pier into Lough Swilly in March 2016.

A funeral notice confirmed that the funeral would take place at St Columba’s Church in Derry on Thursday.

The funeral cortege is scheduled to leave his home at 9.20am for requiem mass at 10am, with internment to follow in the city cemetery.

Additional reporting from PA

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