Ryan McBride funeral: ‘Our Brandywell boy’ Derry City manager holds back tears as he reads poem

Update 3.55pm Derry City manager Kenny Shiels struggled to maintain his composure as he read a poem dedicated to Ryan McBride at the footballer’s funeral.

Mr Shiels wrote the poem and held back tears as he delivered the tribute to the 27-year-old, who was found dead at home last Sunday.

“Ryan we love you with all of our hearts, a giant so gentle and now we’re apart.”

Update 10.10am: At the funeral Mass of Ryan McBride this morning, Fr Aidan Mullan referred to the Derry City captain as an athlethe who had "achieved much and still had great potential".

The centre-back was found dead at home last Sunday.

Fr Mullan said McBride had delivered many thrilling moments "to so many supporters of Derry City, and across Ireland, over the past seven years.

"When we reflect on Ryan's life...we think of him as an athlete in his prime. 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."

McBride was praised by Fr Mullan as an inspirational leader and a great role model for many young boys and girls as well as City fans throughout the area.

President Michael D Higgins was among hundreds who attended the Mass at St Columba's Long Tower Catholic Church.

Members of the club's youth and women's squads stood outside the entrance to the church, and the club's colours of red, white and black were ubiquitous.

Team-mates walked alongside the hearse as it approached from the Brandywell area, where McBride lived in the shadow of his home ground.

Flowers in the hearse said "Captain" and depicted his number 5 jersey.

The Pride of Northside supporters' club carried a banner with a photograph of him in full flight.

Earlier: The funeral of Derry City football captain Ryan McBride will be held later.

He was found dead at home in his bed on Sunday night aged 27. The cause of death is unknown.

Hundreds are expected to attend the service at St Columba's Church Longtower in the city for a Requiem Mass at 10am. He will be interred in the City Cemetery.

Chief mourners will be his father Lexie, sisters Colleen, Siunin and Caitlain and partner Mairead.

The fans' favourite lived in a terrace house beside the club's Brandywell ground where he has played since 2011.

His club said he would be remembered by teammates and supporters as one of the greats. His teammates will form a guard of honour as his coffin is carried into the church.

Ryan McBride funeral: ‘Our Brandywell boy’ Derry City manager holds back tears as he reads poem

Local community worker Donncha MacNiallais said: "He did not want to play in the World Cup, he wanted to play in the Brandywell and that is how people will remember him."

It will be a day of widespread mourning in the North, as the funeral will also be held of former Deputy Frist Minister Martin McGuinness.

A special tribute will be made at the Republic of Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Wales in Dublin on Friday.

A minute's applause will be held prior to Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier with Norway in Belfast this weekend.

Former close teammate and Republic of Ireland international James McClean said McBride was a warrior who would throw his body on the line.

Mr MacNiallais said McBride worked with all the youth clubs in the area, helping young people with their game.

Ryan McBride funeral: ‘Our Brandywell boy’ Derry City manager holds back tears as he reads poem

He added: "He would have just gone out and given his experience and skills in helping aspiring young footballers, boys and girls who aspired to do what he did.

"He captained his team and was really proud of that."

He added: "There is a sense of great sadness about young Ryan, the contribution he made in a very short life to the local area, particularly through football."

McBride played more than 100 league matches for Derry.

His last match was a 4-0 triumph over Drogheda United in the League of Ireland on Saturday.

This is the latest tragedy to strike Derry City FC in just over a year.

Ex-striker Mark Farren died aged 33 in February 2016. Derry's record goalscorer had been receiving treatment for an aggressive brain tumour.

A year ago, Derry player Josh Daniels lost his mother, sister, brother-in-law and nephews in the Buncrana pier tragedy. A car slid off the pier and entered Lough Swilly.

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