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Northern Ireland at Euro 2016

The top ten news stories of 2016

By Sophie Inge

It was a momentous year for Northern Irish football.

The national team qualified for its first ever European Championship, after beating Greece 3-1 at Windsor Park in October 2015.

And the Euros certainly proved memorable as Michael O’Neill’s side reached the last 16, beating Ukraine 2-0 in Lyon along the way.

However, their adventure was brought to an end by an own-goal from Gareth McAuley in the match against Wales in Paris on June 25.

Reflecting on the year, Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill said: “This has been a fabulous year for Northern Ireland. To have the experience of reaching the knock-out stages at Euro 2016 was incredible. Going into the World Cup qualifiers was another challenge, but the fact we are sitting second in our group with a realistic chance of getting a play-off position, we couldn’t have asked for any more.

“The performances from this squad have been consistently high in the last few years and we have to keep it at that level.”

O’Neill also has hopes for the team at the 2018 World Cup finals. “Right now my focus isn’t going any further than the World Cup and giving it my all so we have our best shot at trying to get to the finals,” he said.

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