Ruaidhri Higgins pays emotional tribute to Ryan McBride and Mark Farren as Derry City reach FAI Cup Final
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McBride featured alongside current City players Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy when Derry last reached the FAI Cup Final back in 2014 and was part of the squad which won the trophy back in 2012 alongside Higgins.
Another of Higgins' former teammates, Farren was part of the Candy Stripes' 2006 and 2012 winning teams and the Limavady man admitted both club legends were at the forefront of his thoughts from when he first woke up on semi-final day.
"It's on days like this you remember Ryan McBride, who would probably still be playing and captaining the club at this stage," said the City boss. “You remember Mark Farren, I played with both.
"Mark Farren scored a cup final goal. Ryan McBride played in cup finals so for me personally it's on days like this that you really remember those two and they're in our thoughts."
Ahead of kick-off Derry paid tribute to the 10 people who lost their lives in the Creeslough explosion last week and Higgins and Treaty United manager Tommy Barrett paid a poignant tribute as they laid wreaths beneath the flagpoles at the Brandywell Road end of the ground.
There was then an impeccably observed minute's silence and supporters rose to their feet on the 10th minute for a minute's applause in memory of those who died in the tragedy in the north west Donegal village.
In the build-up to the match, Higgins said football 'pales into insignificance' in the wake of such a devastating event and it was an emotional tribute at a sold-out stadium in front of the RTE cameras.
As Higgins looks forward to his first FAI Cup as manager following the 2-1 win over Treaty United, the absence of both McBride and Farren and the 'unique' suffering the club has endured in recent years was very much in his thoughts.
He pointed to the fact both goals, scored by Jamie McGonigle and Brandon Kavanagh in seven first half minutes, were scored in the first half were just 100 metres from the late McBride's Bluebell Gardens home.
"It's a massive day for the football club and hopefully now we can bring a huge crowd to Dublin,” continued the City supremo. “Derry's unique in a sense. It's had a lot of hard times and there's a lot of special players who have come from a stone's throw of this ground and the end that we scored the two goals in, Ryan lived about 100 metres behind that, if even that,” he pointe out.
"It's special. It's a unique football club and it's important that we educate new players on who these people are and what they mean to the club. For me personally, they've been in my thoughts from the minute I woke up this morning,” concluded the Derry boss.