RYAN McBride may have been spotted by coaches from Derry City when playing in the local Pat Harkin Summer Cup and given his performance against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night, I must say I’m delighted with that particular discovery.
Having watched the Brandywell lad perform against players of the quality of Rovers’ towering striker, Ciaran Kilduffy and then former Sligo hitman, Mark Quigley, I really do believe that Ryan has come of age.
As a former centre-half, I can appreciate the difficulties associated with dealing with so many different scenarios as a defender.
Tall, physical front-men, hard-working strikers who never give a centre half one minute’s peace and then the smaller, more skilful pacy hitman who can, on occasions, embarrass you with their tricks.
So when Derry City realised that Shane McEleney’s controversial red card against Dundalk was not going to be rescinded, one got the feeling that Rovers would attempt to exploit what would be considered a weak link in the heart of the Derry defence.
Dermot McCaffrey was selected to partner McBride - a new partnership and with Dermot about to play his first league game of the season, that was always a worry.
But the entire Derry back five rose to the occasion on the night and that unit met the challenges head on.
Okay, on occasions lady luck helped out but as Rovers pushed everything forward after Derry had stunned the Dubliners when breaking the deadlock, this Derry City panel stood firm; refused to be intimidated and defended as if their lives depended on it.
It was a stunning victory built on grit and determination rather than polish and panache.
And, make no mistake about it, Rovers are a very talented side and while they will feel hard done-by given their dominance of the ball, goals win matches.
For Ryan McBride to net that all-important insurance goal in the 79th minute, was a fitting reward for the player’s five star performance.
That’s now six wins on the spin and hats off to the management team who must now focus on another series of tough matches before the first series of game has been concluded.