DECLAN DEVINE says he's proud of how Derry City Football Club and its supporters represented the city in such a positive light on Friday night following the tragic events of the past 24 hours.
The Brandywell club lost 1-0 to league leaders Shamrock Rovers at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, less than two miles from where writer and journalist, Lyra McKee was fatally wounded during rioting in Creggan on Thursday night.
Creggan native, Devine admitted it was 'a tough 24 hours' but was glad that his players and almost 4,000 passionate supporters sent out such a positive and united image of the city during an entertaining top of the table clash in front of the RTE cameras.
And he hopes the 'positivity' and 'vibrancy' shown in the Lone Moor Road stadium on the night can 'help some of our supporters' through a difficult time.
"There's a lot of Creggan men in the team," said Devine afterwards. "We love where we come from and are very proud of where we come from. Ultimately tonight was about football for us and that's all we get involved in.
"We have fantastic footballers and fantastic people and the people of Derry have really rallied behind us and long may that continue.
"This city is magnificent," he added. "It's a lovely place to live, It's a wonderful place to have grown up. So whenever people are trying to bring it down, I'm extremely proud of a group of young men in there tonight who have given everything for a huge football club. When the cameras were on them they stood up.
"It's been a tough 24 hours for the city but what these boys bring is a vibrancy. The TV cameras will have seen that tonight but it's every game. Whenever we play it's very high intense games we play. We're relentless in our ability to drive forward and our hunger to defend.
"It's been a tough 24 hours," he repeated. "But hopefully the positivity the guys have shown tonight can help some of our supporters. Our supporters were magnificent. Our supporters are so important to us and if we can continue that rapport between our players and supporters and the effort and commitment to strive to bring this football club back to the top end of Irish football then hopefully we can have a good year with that. I'm extremely proud of my players."
A minute's silence was impeccably observed prior to kick-off while the club also issued a statement in tribute to Belfast native, McKee, who was shot dead while covering Thursday night's riots in the Creggan estate.
"Derry City Football Club wishes to extend our deepest condolences to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee following her tragic and untimely death last night," the club said.
"Lyra had become a part of the Brandywell community and her death has stunned an entire city with which this club has a deep association.
"As a club, the media are part of our wider family and we recognise the work Lyra was involved in, and in which she ultimately lost her young life. May her gentle soul rest in peace."