Northern Ireland: McGinn wants to stay in top spot

Northern Ireland goal heroes Niall McGinn and Kyle Lafferty celebrate scoring against Hungary in their UEFA EURO 2016 win in Budapest. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye
Northern Ireland goal heroes Niall McGinn and Kyle Lafferty celebrate scoring against Hungary in their UEFA EURO 2016 win in Budapest. Picture by William Cherry/Presseye

Winger Niall McGinn not only wants Northern Ireland to qualify for Euro 2016, but he wants them to win qualifying Group F.

Michael O’Neill’s side currently sit a point clear of Romania and know a victory over bottom side Greece next month will see them book their place to France next June.

But the ex-Derry City man wants more.

“We are definitely in a great position but we want to now finish the group in first place,” he stated.

“We can’t ask for much more, I think looking back, the first game going to Hungary, and getting those three points, seeing that game and where we are now, it has been an unbelievable, great journey for us and we just want to keep it going.

“We want to get it over as quickly as possible. We know we are one win away from getting to the Euros, but we have another two tough games coming up, but we’ll definitely keep ourselves right, work hard and hopefully we can do it in our next home game.”

The Aberdeen man played his part in the late drama at Windsor Park last Monday night as his volley was kept out by goalkeeper Gábor Király before Kyle Lafferty fired home the stoppage time leveller.

“I was obviously disappointed that I didn’t start the game, but I always felt that at some stage I would come on and thankfully I did and thankfully I had bit of an impact, I had the shot, which was saved and it was great to see Kyle being in the right place at the right time.

“The roar when we scored the equaliser was unbelievable and yes we were disappointed to go behind, but thankfully we showed great character to come from behind, especially when we were down to ten men.

“I thought Bairdy was outstanding, he interrupted everything which Hungary was throwing at us and his all round reading of the game was unbelievable and I thought he probably deserved the man of the match, but he was disappointed to get sent-off.”

McGinn, who admitted the Green and White Army played their part in Monday evening’s qualifier, feels the squad is good enough to cope with the loss of trio Lafferty, Chris Baird and Conor McLaughlin for next month’s double headers against Greece and Finland.

“Yeah we know that Kyle, Bairdy and Conor will be three big misses but we have shown in the past that the players coming in can go and do a job.

“We have a big squad and we have a great squad of players as well and we are all champing at the bit to play and I’m sure when it comes round Michael (O’Neill) will get the right team out onto the pitch.

“I think there were 10,000 fans at the game, but it felt like 20,000 or 25,000 and it’s always an eventful night at Windsor no more so than against Hungary and obviously getting a late equaliser helps and it was nice to be part of it.”