Ryan McBride funeral: ‘one and only, our top Candystripe’

Derry City FC players form guard of honour outside St Columba’s Church


President Michael D Higgins has joined mourners at the funeral of “inspirational” Derry City captain Ryan McBride.

The 27-year-old died suddenly at his home in Derry on Sunday.

Thousands of people followed the hearse from Mr McBride’s home near the Brandywell stadium to St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, for Requiem Mass.

Derry City FC players as well as the women’s team and youth teams formed a guard of honour outside the church.

Among the mourners were current and former players, including Northern Ireland international and former Derry City and Celtic player Paddy McCourt, and Ireland international Shane Duffy, as well as the team’s management.

Also in attendance was the Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland, John Delaney, as well as players and managers from across Ireland.

Politicians from the North West also came to pay tribute, including the Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson and the SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Fans wore Derry City scarves and carried banners, including one specially made in tribute to Ryan McBride and fellow Derry City player Mark Farren, who died last year.

Mourners at the funeral of Derry City football captain Ryan McBride. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners hold a banner honouring Ryan McBride and Mark Farren at the funeral of the Derry City captain. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Requiem Mass was celebrated by the Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, and a number of priests from across the diocese.

After Communion an emotional Derry City manager, Kenny Shiels, was applauded as he read a poem in memory of Mr McBride.

“On behalf of the players and staff, we would like to show our love for Ryan and show his family how much we loved him.

“We will never forget,

“You were our captain, without all the hype,

“The one and the only, our top Candystripe.”

The funeral of Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, will take place in the same church later on Thursday.

The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, said Derry people were used to dealing with loss.

“Down through the years Derry has faced a lot of difficult circumstances, but the one thing that strikes me is that when something goes wrong everybody pulls together. There’s a sense that no matter how bad things are, together we can face this.”

‘Versatile and accomplished’

In his homily, Father Aidan Mullen told mourners that as a footballer, Mr McBride was “brave and knew no fear”.

“We think of him as an athlete in his prime, who achieved much and still had great potential. He was a versatile and accomplished footballer, who brought thrilling moments to so many supporters of Derry City, and across Ireland, over the past seven years.

“The club management, the team, the supporters, all have been caught up in his natural footballing ability; in his courageous play. As has been said many times, Ryan would put his head where other players would not put their boot.

“As captain he was an inspirational leader in the dressing room and on the field of play. In the last several weeks Ryan was pivotal in great performances and contributed greatly to Derry’s perfect start to the season.

“His quick reflexes, heady play and competitive spirit made him a great role model for many young boys and girls as well as City supporters and fans throughout the area. We are grateful for Ryan’s powerful example,” said Fr Mullan.

Fr Mullan paid tribute to Mr McBride’s family, including his father Lexie, his partner Mairead and his sisters Colleen, Siuinin and Caitlin, who he said had helped forge his character through the generations.

“His unexpected death has impacted on his nearest, and on all of us, as an appalling shock. We cannot fully take in the reality even as we carry out our funeral rites for our beloved Ryan. As Ryan comes before God for judgment, Ryan no doubt will receive first class honours.”