After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.
McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.
Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.
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McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).
“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.
“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”
Irish football was stunned Sunday by the death of 27-year-old Derry City captain Ryan McBride, hours after he captained Northern Irish side Derry City to a 4-0 win over rivals Drogheda United.
McBride was a former non-league player whose family lived next to Derry City’s ground, and scored twice in his last four matches to give him 10 in 136 appearances.
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The cause of his death is unknown. Reports say he was feeling unwell after the match. It comes one year after Derry’s all-time leading scorer Mark Farren succumbed to a brain tumor.
Ex-manager Stephen Kenny described McBride as a “ferociously brave player”, and the Republic of Ireland’s president is among many big names to lament his death on social media.
But before that, let’s reflect on the time he upended two players with one slide tackle:
Mark Farren was scoring goals at a clip nearing a goal-per-game as recently as 2014.
On Wednesday, he succumbed to an aggressive brain tumor.
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In yet another example of a life taken at an extremely young age, Derry City record goal scorer Farren died at the age of 33 while undergoing treatment.
Farren scored a club-best 114 goals over 209 matches with Derry, and also played for Finn Harps, Monaghan United and Glenavon. He spent his youth with Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield Town in England.
From the BBC:
City chairman Phillip O’Doherty said: “We offer our sympathies to his family.
“He was a superb player and I think the entire football community throughout Ireland would say the same.
“But, most of all, he was a decent human being.”
He was mourned in the Irish and world football community.