Kenny Shiels says it was fitting the first goal at new Brandywell was scored in 'Ryan McBride End'
KENNY SHIELS says he was pleased the first goal scored at the newly refurbished Brandywell Stadium was scored in 'The Ryan McBride End' of the ground which backs onto the family home of the late Derry City skipper.
Hat-trick hero, Ronan Hale netted the first of his treble - a stunning strike - into the Bluebell Hill Gardens side of the impressive stadium and Shiels felt it was a fitting moment with the number five, worn proudly by McBride who passed away in March last year, proving significant on Derry's long awaited return to its spiritual home.
During the fifth minute of the match the stadium lit up with the light from mobile phones held in the air in a poignant tribute to the fearless defender who died suddenly almost 12 months ago.
With five goals scored on the night, Shiels' thoughts immediately turned to his former skipper in his post match interview.
"Ronan was really good," said Shiels. "But the thing I was hoping for was that the first goal back at the Brandywell would be scored at the McBride end of the stadium. And it was in the McBride end it was scored.
"If you look up towards Ryan's grave it's up parallel to where the goal was scored if you look up at the cemetery and that was significant in my thoughts. I'm pleased the first goal was scored in the McBride end of the stadium."
It was an emotional night as Ireland manager, Martin O'Neill cut the ribbon to officially open the new sold out 'Mark Farren Stand' in front of his proud parents, Kathleen and Michael and FAI CEO John Delaney as chants of 'there's only one Mark Farren' echoed around the stadium.
With so much emotion in the air and fanfare which came with the return to the ground after 18 months on the road, Shiels admitted he was 'worried sick' the occasion would prove too much for his young players but he was delighted to put a smile on the faces of the Derry City supporters.
In fact the ex-Kilmarnock boss said he was more nervous prior to kick-off at Brandywell Stadium than he was when playing in front of 60,000 fans in the SPL.
"I was worried because it's my responsibility as the first team manager to produce a product that's appealing to the local people who have been devoid of that for 16 or 17 months. Now they're back and we're back and I would want every day to be like that.
"The happiness I seen on the faces of the people that were there tonight makes me feel good. So they've given us new energy and it was about the supporters tonight and what we could do for them.
"I wanted to show them we are conscientious and appreciative of what they bring here. We want to given them something back and hopefully we can do that this season.
"We had to give something back to the city tonight," he insisted. "There was this big fanfare for the game and I was worried sick, I really was because I've managed teams in front of 60,000 or 70,000 supporters with no nerves at all but tonight was nerve-wrecking because I knew the average guy from the Brandywell, Creggan, Shantallow or wherever they had been deprived of their fortnightly trip down to see their local team.
"So coming back tonight they were anticipating and expecting a performance because there was a full house and they wanted to have a good time. The only downside was it wasn't a Friday night or weekend night for them. It was a Monday night but I'm sure they went home satisfied and I felt we had to produce a good performance.
"I'm the guy who makes the selections and makes the mistakes and I wanted to make sure the night was for them. Hopefully we repaid them in a way in which it's good to be back and they can't wait until Friday night as it was a good atmosphere and the entertainment was good from our perspective."