The shock was felt around the league when the news broke last Sunday that the Derry City captain Ryan McBride had died suddenly, at the tender age of 27.
It was news that had come totally out of the blue and deep sadness has been felt my many supporters of all the clubs around the country.
Ryan was a superb player and leader of his beloved Derry City and when he pulled on that red striped shirt he became a colossus. I have seen many players throughout my lifetime involved in football in our little country and Ryan stood out in the top ten for me. His sudden death was made even more hard to understand as twenty four hours earlier he had led Derry to a great victory over Drogheda United and as usual he put in a mammoth performance. Our thoughts now have to rest with his family and pray they have the strength to deal with this news and get through this terrible time. My thoughts and prayers go out to them and may we all pray Ryan rests in peace.
It is now time to reflect on last weekends games in the SSE Airtricity League although it is hard to put the words together after the sad Ryan McBride news. I feel it is correct to bring you the update as I am sure Ryan would have agreed that it is great to talk about the greatest league in the world.
Derry have made an excellent start to the season and on Saturday they played Drogheda United in Maginn Park. Derry started very slowly and in fact could have fallen behind if Drogheda striker Stephen Elliott had taken the couple of chances that had been created for him by his side. But when you play the top teams in the league you need to take your chances or it will come back and bite you in the backside if you don't. It certainly did that just before halftime when Ronan Curtis put the home side one up. If Derry were slow in the first half, then it must have taken a few strong words from manager Kenny Shiels at halftime to ignite a superb second half display. The entire second half was taken over by Derry's Barry McNamee who grabbed a hat trick. It was a superb performance and captain Ryan McBride would have been so proud of it. Three points and another step up the table is exactly what manager Kenny Shiels would have wanted, but the devastating news he received only 24 hours later must have broke his heart. His leader on the field is gone, the local boy who came good will no longer be around and not only will be missed at the club but around the city as well.
In the Premier League there were also wins for Cork City, Sligo Rovers, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers whilst Limerick and Finn Harps drew as did Bohemians and Galway United. The results leave Cork City sitting on the top of the league and the team who failed last season to turn draws into victories do not seem to be having that problem this time out.
Cobh are sitting on top of Division One and totally destroyed Athlone over the weekend. They put five past the team from the midlands and they are showing form that could see them grab that one promotion spot. The other games in the division saw Cabinteely win and the other two games between Wexford, UCD, Shelbourne and Waterford ended as draws. Cobh manager Stephen Henderson really has his side focussed and although they won at the weekend, he has had them training hard this week and only time will tell if the extra work has payed off.
So there we have it, another weekend over in the SSE Airtricity League but a time when such sadness has hit the country. I did not know Ryan McBride personally but I knew all about his footballing life. Tributes have been paid to the young Derry man this week from presidents right down to the average man in the street. It shows you in just high esteem how he was held. The league will be a sadder place without Ryan and may he Rest in Peace.