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McBride's star continues to shine brightly at the Brandywell

Ryan McBride congratulates his Derry City team-mate Barry McNamee after his hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Drogheda in March 2017, which turned out to be McBride's last game for the club before his shock death a day later Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus Crudden

THREE years ago Derry City lost a legend after the sudden death of captain Ryan McBride, but his legacy continues to shine brightly, especially in his home town.

The big centre-back was tragically taken far too soon, but his name and warrior-like spirit live on, not just among Candystripes supporters and his former team-mates, but the whole footballing community in Ireland.

In fact, in the years and decades to come, Ryan McBride's name will always be talked about, as the foundation set-up by his family and close friends in his memory continues to have the backing and support of the community and the children's training camps for the next generation of footballers will prove to be a fitting legacy.

The Derry City skipper played for Kenny Shiels's side in the win over Drogheda on Saturday March 18, 2017 and died 24 hours later.

One man who played alongside McBride that day was midfielder Barry McNamee, who scored a hat-trick in an eight-minute spell in City's 4-0 win at their temporary home at Maginn Park in Buncrana.

The Ramelton man, now at Finn Harps, remembers that game and the heart-wrenching time after McBride's sudden death and pays tribute to the great job done by boss Shiels at such a tough time for the club.

"I had scored in the win over of Dundalk the previous week and then I scored my first ever hat-trick for Derry, so everything was going good and spirits were high, training was flying and everybody was buzzing about. Everyone was enjoying things and then... to be honest it's still, even three years on, hard to put into words exactly how I reacted from it.

"It was just a phone call that you never ever thought you were ever going to get.

"It took us a while to get going again, but Kenny was great. We obviously trained whenever we could, Kenny offered any player that needed further time off if they needed it, he told them if they needed to speak to anyone, then he was there for them.

"He went above and beyond to do whatever he thought the players needed and to be fair he was a great man to have during that time."

The 28-year-old admits the Candystripes were full of confidence after a fantastic start to the 2017 campaign, but admits after McBride's death, the team just fell apart for a number of weeks.

"When you look back now, it's a case of what if," he added.

"We had won four games on the bounce, away to Bohs and (Shamrock) Rovers and home to Dundalk and Drogheda, so we had beaten the top teams in the league and we didn't see any reason why we couldn't have gone on to win it.

"Maybe there was a lack of depth to our squad, but we had a starting 11 that would have given anyone a game and would have beaten anyone. So we were obviously confident on the back of those wins, but then your whole season and the whole team just fell apart.

"We did really struggle and we were every unlucky to lose to Bray in our first game back after Ryan's death. We were 2-0 down in the game, got it back to 2-2, had chances to win it and then lost in the last minute.

"I think we lost a few games in-a-row after that and it took us time to get back, but we regrouped and finished the season strongly."

McNamee feels the Ryan McBride Foundation is great as the next generation will get the chance to always know about McBride.

"The family themselves will have been through a very tough time," he insisted.

"We all knew Ryan as a player and as his friend, but you can't ever imagine how they coped with Ryan's loss.

"To be fair to them, they have kept his name alive with the Foundation, they have their big charity night every year and with the Foundation going around schools and having Easter and summer camps for the kids, I suppose the great thing is that even now the ones who were too young to remember him playing, will grow up now knowing how much of an impact he made in and around the community and Derry City Football Club."

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