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Northern Ireland to Euro 2016: Outpouring of goodwill for our mighty heroes in green

By David Young

Published 09/10/2015

Northern Ireland Michael O'Neill is thrown in the air in celebration last night
Northern Ireland Michael O'Neill is thrown in the air in celebration last night
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SOCCER N Ire_9.jpg

It's not every day the Prime Minister gets excited about a Northern Ireland football match, but last night David Cameron led the congratulations to the victorious boys in green.

As Twitter went into meltdown as the Green and White Army prepared to book their tickets to France for next year's finals of the Euro 2016 tournament, Mr Cameron paid tribute to their magnificent performance.

"Huge congratulations to Northern Ireland on qualifying for the European Championships for the first time," the PM said.

DUP leader Peter Robinson took some time out to lavish praise on the team and manager.

"Tremendous result and achievement. Huge congratulations to Michael O'Neill and team. Great night for Northern Ireland," he said.

World champion boxer Carl Frampton and golf superstar Rory McIlroy were beaming as they sat together in the Windsor Park stadium. Just before kick-off, Frampton tweeted: "Tonight's the night. Believe..."

He wasn't wrong - and after the game ended, the fighter dusted off his French, tweeting: "Bonjour lads."

McIlrory, who watched from the stands with girlfriend Erica Stoll, was also looking forward to some French leave next year.

"Anyone for France next year?" he asked his 2.6 million Twitter followers.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness hailed both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland's team, who were celebrating a priceless 1-0 win over Germany, keeping their own dream of Euro 2016 alive.

"Incredible night for Irish football! Congrats Martin & Michael O'Neill & both teams. Beating the World Champions in Dublin - so amazing!" Mr McGuinness tweeted.

Elsewhere, an excited Zoe Salmon described the result as "extraordinary".

"Incredible sights at Windsor Park tonight! The #GAWA are on their way to France," the former Miss Northern Ireland and TV presenter tweeted.

"France get ready - the Green and White Army is on its way! Making history and qualifying for the first time please, be upstanding for Northern Ireland."

She cheekily signed off: "I'm off to get myself a string of garlic!"

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt was so overjoyed he slipped into French, tweeting: "Irelande du Nord - isn't that what you say when the 2016 championship hosts ask where you are from?"

Earlier, Mr Nesbitt recalled his broadcasting days, saying: "As the last person to commentate on NI at a major finals (v Brazil, Mexico 86) it's time I was no longer the last person..."

Top Belfast DJ Pete Snodden tweeted his congratulations to the team: "Ready for France? Oh yes. Can't wait! You've made everyone proud."

Funnyman Tim McGarry was in tune with the thousands of dancing fans who filled Belfast city centre in celebration: "Michael O'Neill for First Minister!.. and Deputy First. No, seriously. #gawa"

And Secretary of State Theresa Villiers added: "Congratulations to NI football team on reaching the European Championship Finals in France for the first time in their history #GAWA".

Belfast Telegraph

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