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Northern Ireland 1-0 Slovenia: Perfect 10 cheers fans as French Euro 2016 party looms

By Ian Cahoon

Published 29/03/2016

Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates Oliver Norwood and Jonathan Evans during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates Oliver Norwood and Jonathan Evans during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis has a shot on goal ahead of Slovenia's Samardzic Miral during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Roy Carroll of Northern Ireland saves a penalty from Novakovic Milivoje of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) and Slovenia's Cesar Bostjan (2nd from left) attempt to separate Northern Ireland's Jamie Ward and Slovenia's Samardzic Miral during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans during the 14th minute stand up and applaud in respect of Johan Cruyff who died recently during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans observe a minutes silent in respect to Sean McGrotty, 49, his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, 8, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 59, and Ms Daniels' daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, who was 14 who died in Buncrana, Co. Donegal before an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
Northern Ireland fans during the 14th minute stand up and applaud in respect of Johan Cruyff who died recently during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Stephen Davis leads out Northern Ireland before an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Conor Washington (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game with team mates during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Conor Washington (L) of Northern Ireland celebrates after scoring during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Stephen Davis (left) reacts to a challenge from Slovenia's Jokic Bojan during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PA
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Jamie Ward (R) of Northern Ireland and Krhin Rene (L) of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 28: Jamie Ward (L) of Northern Ireland and Krhin Rene (R) of Slovenia during the international friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at Windsor Park on March 28, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's defender Paddy McNair (R) vies with Slovenia's midfielder Benjamin Verbic during the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on March 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's defender Paddy McNair (R) vies with Slovenia's midfielder Benjamin Verbic during the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Slovenia at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on March 28, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Stephen Davis (left) and Jonathan Evans (right) and Slovenia's Ilicic Josip (centre) battle for the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands show their support during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood (left) and Slovenia's Ilicic Josip battle for the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Patrick McNair (left) jumps to head the ball during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland players line up with mascots to sing their country's national Anthem prior to kick off during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill stands at the touchline during an International Friendly at Windsor Park, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 28, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's dressing room which they will use for the first time before Monday night's International Friendly against Slovenia at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry / Press Eye
Northern Ireland players during Sundays training session ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry Press Eye
Northern Ireland's dressing room which they will use for the first time before Monday night's International Friendly against Slovenia at Windsor Park, Belfast. Photo by William Cherry / Press Eye
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis with Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at the National Stadium ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during Sundays training session at Windsor Park ahead of Monday nights International Friendly against Slovenia. Photo by William Cherry

It may have only been a friendly, but the 1-0 victory over Slovenia summed up much of what's good about supporting Northern Ireland at the moment.

A new-look Windsor Park is three-quarters completed and now has the feel of a first class international football ground.

Coupled with a first-ever European Championships just weeks away, this is a great time for the Green And White Army.

And after last night's win they might also have a new hero in their midst as QPR striker Conor Washinton lashed in his first goal on only his second start, going off the pitch in the 70th minute to a standing ovation.

Gareth Brown said: "I thought he looked really lively.

"He created a really good chance for himself that would have been a great goal and then took his goal really well.

"I still think we'll need someone up there with a bit of height, but he could be a good option to have beside a big man.

"I'd say he's done his chances no harm at all."

The result also saw O'Neill's men make history as they became the first Northern Ireland side to go 10 matches unbeaten.

Andy Montgomery said: "I think the chance to make history gave the players a wee bit of extra incentive.

"It also keeps the momentum going and if we can go to Euro 2016 still unbeaten then we'll all be confident.

"It's really enjoyable going to watch Northern Ireland at the minute. Long may it continue!"

James Matchett added: "It's crazy to think that we've gone 10 games unbeaten when you think of where we have come from, even at the start under Michael O'Neill.

"We've always had a few decent individual players, but O'Neill has managed to gel together a team and that's why we're getting results.

"Successful Northern Ireland teams of the past have always been built around a strong team ethic and this one seems to have that as well."

O'Neill's side had an experimental element to it, with home debuts given to Michael Smith and Washington, while Roy Carroll, Shane Ferguson and Jamie Ward came into the starting line-up having been on the bench against Wales.

Gary Duke said: "You have to use games like this to have a look at certain players

"Who knows what might happen injury-wise between now and the Euros, so Michael O'Neill needs to know who he can turn to."

Another talking point for the fans last night was the introduction of half-time substitute Aaron Hughes, who is closing in on 100 caps for this country.

Stephen Curry said: "I know he's well into his 30s but I hope he goes to France.

"With the commitment he has shown for the last 20 years he deserves to."

Belfast Telegraph

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