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O'Neill's men left to regret not meeting their own standards as Northern Ireland lose out to Poland

After the glory of qualification comes the reality check after Milik strikes to sink Northern Ireland

By Steven Beacom

Published 13/06/2016

Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland fans look dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast.
Fans at Belfast's Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland concede the goal during Poland's 1-0 victory in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
A Northern Ireland supporter looks on during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans reactions during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland's goalkeeper Michael McGovern looks at the ball after Poland's forward Arkadiusz Milik scored during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Poland's defender Artur Jedrzejczyk (R) celebrates his team's victory next to Northern Ireland's forward Conor Washington at the end of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans look dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland applauds the supporters after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
A Northern Ireland fan looks dejected whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Gareth McAuley (R) and Northern Ireland players applaud after their 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Poland's defender Artur Jedrzejczyk (R) celebrates his team's victory next to Northern Ireland's forward Conor Washington at the end of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Conor Washington of Northern Ireland show their dejection after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland's defender Craig Cathcart reacts to his team's loss after the final whistle during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
NICE, FRANCE - JUNE 12: Jonny Evans of Northern Ireland applauds the supporters after his team's 0-1 defeat in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans appear dejected in the stands after seeing their side concede the first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill on the touchline during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans appear dejected in the stands after seeing their side concede the first goal of the game during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Poland's forward Arkadiusz Milik (L) is congratualtes by teammates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016.
Northern Ireland fans looks dejected after their team concede a goal as they watch the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast.
Arkadiusz Milik (2nd L) of Poland scores his team's first goal past Michael McGovern of Northern Ireland during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland Manager Michael O'Neill during this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis and Poland's Michał Pazdan during this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Poland's midfielder Krzysztof Maczynski (C) passes the ball during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Stade de Nice in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Paddy McNair (right) and Poland's Arkadiusz Milik battle for the ball during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Pat Jennings (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland interacts with Wojciech Szczesny of Poland during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Kate Hoey shows her support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Artur Jedrzejczyk of Poland and Kyle Lafferty of Northern Ireland compete for the ball during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Nice, France. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Poland's Robert Lewandowski heads at goal whilst under pressure from Northern Ireland's Conor McLaughlin (left) during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan supporting Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th June 2016 - Photo by Press Eye - First Minister Arlene Foster with IFA President Jim Shaw and IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at Poland V Northern Ireland in Nice, France.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday June 12, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Poland's starting eleven pose for a group picture during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Poland supporters cheer their team on during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland supporters cheer during the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Valery HACHEVALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) during the warm-up before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Josh Baines aged 8, and father Roger and Grandfather Jim from Kilkeel enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Matthew Gibson , aged 12, from Donaghadee enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Ruth and David Crawford and Louise Hamilton from Donegal , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Uel,William,Ian,Ken and Hugh Moulds from Lisburn , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Olivia and Roy Kelly from Bangor, enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan Marc, Gillian, Ann and Colin Francey from Portrush , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fan David Clint from Comber , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 12th June 2016 Mandatory Credit -Brian Little/Presseye Northern Ireland fans Uel,William,Ian,Ken and Hugh Moulds from Lisburn , enjoying the sunshine in Nice ahead of the Northern Ireland against Poland EURO 2016 match at the Stade de Nice. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery with Polish fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery get a selfie with Polish Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Carl Frampton with fellow Northern Ireland fan James Tait in Nice
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans David , Stuart and Colin Bell at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Northern Ireland supporter and Groom Stuart Stockman (second left) outside the Ma Nolan's Irish pub in Nice, France ahead of his team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 11, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016 StagNI. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Northern Ireland supporters enjoying the sights of Nice, France ahead of the team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016.
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans are joined by a Polish football fan as they arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the beach near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans Chris Geoghegan and Richard McKnight from Belfast bump into Gary Lineker in France.
Philip Wright on tour with the Green and White army. They left on a 6am flight to Nice.
Ballymacash Northern Ireland supporter's club head off to France. Pic: Andrew Clarke
David Johnston and fellow Northern Ireland fans head off to France.
Crawford McCullough's 'mancave' in Bangor Co Down.
Northern Ireland flags flying in France. Picture: Dennis Russell
Adam Topping (33) from Scarva Northern Ireland in St Raphael. He has tickets all the way to the final so will not be home until July 11.
A Northern Ireland fan samples some ice cream in Lyon, France. Thursday June 9, 2016. PA
Colin Porter passing the time before he heads to Nice. Pic: Gary Porter
Home for Bedfordshire based Dave Price and his pals for the next two weeks at least
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough and Ian Thompson pictured at the boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fan Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty pictured during Fridays training session in St Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.

Northern Ireland fans had waited 30 years for this. They had dared to dream but once the moment and the match came the reality hit hard.

And so did the performance and the outcome.

Bottom line Northern Ireland weren't good enough on the day the country made history by playing in the European Championship finals for the first time and in their first tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

The biggest disappointment for the manager Michael O'Neill, his players and the supporters will be that they know they are better than this.

Much better.

The scoreboard inside Stade de Nice read 1-0 to Poland at the final whistle, but the truth is the teams were Poles apart.

O'Neill's side entered the tournament on a record 12 match unbeaten run. There was nothing unlucky about the defeat in game number 13.

Poland deserved their victory. They were the superior team throughout. From the first few seconds they took control and did not let go. Arkadiusz Milik's strike in the 51st minute proved enough for them to start Euro 2016 with a bang.

Had the Poles been more clinical or had more of their chances fallen to ace marksman Robert Lewandowski they probably would have won by more.

Sure, Northern Ireland showed the grit, heart, togetherness and 100% commitment to the cause we expect but then so did Poland and they had more ability and adventure to go with those other qualities.

Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Pictured is Northern Ireland fans on the streets close to the Titanic Slipways in Belfast as Northern Ireland take on Germany during Euro 2016 game in Paris. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 21-06-2016: Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast Northern Ireland as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Fans who won Gold Level VIP tickets pictured with Northern Ireland legend Billy Hamilton, who made the assist in the 1982 World Cup. Fans pictured are, Robert Grierson, Karen Connolly, and Dianne Atkinson. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Fans at the Northern Ireland fanzine at Titanic slipways in Belfast for Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 clash against World Champions Germany in Paris. Photo by Peter Morrison/Belfast Telegraph
Fans at the Northern Ireland fanzine at Titanic slipways in Belfast for Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 clash against World Champions Germany in Paris. Photo by Peter Morrison/Belfast Telegraph
Fans at the Northern Ireland fanzine at Titanic slipways in Belfast for Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 clash against World Champions Germany in Paris. Photo by Peter Morrison/Belfast Telegraph
Fans at the Northern Ireland fanzine at Titanic slipways in Belfast for Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 clash against World Champions Germany in Paris. Photo by Peter Morrison/Belfast Telegraph
Fans at the Northern Ireland fanzine at Titanic slipways in Belfast for Northern Ireland's crucial Euro 2016 clash against World Champions Germany in Paris. Photo by Peter Morrison/Belfast Telegraph
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland fans (left to right)Joanne King, Tanya Naycott and Helena Mateer at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast before they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Fans showing their support at the Titanic Fanzone, Belfast as they watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 21st June 2016 Northern Ireland fans gather in the Fanzone at the Titanic Quarter to watch Northern Ireland face Germany. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland fans whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 12th June 2015 Northern Ireland v Poland Fan Zone Titanic Belfast GAWA Fans enjoying the warm up too the kick off.
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the warm up to the kick off at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 12th June 2015 Northern Ireland v Poland Fan Zone Titanic Belfast GAWA Fans enjoying the warm up too the kick off.
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 12th June 2015 Northern Ireland v Poland Fan Zone Titanic Belfast GAWA Fans enjoying the warm up too the kick off.
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitment at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitement at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
GAWA fans enjoying the excitement at the Fan Zone Titanic, Belfast. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast, UK - February 12 , Pictured is fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland fans whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic. Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Emily Gray during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Northern Ireland fans whilst watching the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match between Northern Ireland and Poland at the Titanic Museum, Belfast. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland. ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Fans during the Northern Ireland fan zone in association with Vauxhall held at the Titanic Slipways as Northern Ireland take on Poland in the Euros on February 12, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)

For 20 months just about everything that O'Neill has touched has turned to gold with Northern Ireland topping their qualifying group and becoming invincible. Arriving in France the manager had the players on a high believing anything was possible only for things to come crashing down to earth with a bump yesterday.

As O'Neill inspired Northern Ireland to France everyone seemed comfortable with their roles.

In Nice there was only discomfort as they came under pressure from early on.

O'Neill's team selection was both fascinating and surprising. Michael McGovern was in goal with a back five of Conor McLaughlin, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Shane Ferguson. There was a midfield diamond with the boss hoping Chris Baird, Paddy McNair, Oliver Norwood and captain Steven Davis would sparkle.

Essentially Davis was operating behind lone striker Kyle Lafferty. No Jamie Ward or Stuart Dallas. Both could consider themselves unlucky.

It looked like a defensive set-up and that's how it played out during an agonising first 45 minutes for the vociferous Northern Ireland fans and a serious test for the players. Poland were dominant in possession but in promising positions too often their final ball let them down.

In a bid to gain more control O'Neill swapped Davis with McNair, but on the rare occasions they had possession Northern Ireland failed to do anything worthwhile with it.

Milik, who had fluffed two chances early on, missed an even better opportunity following the half hour mark slicing horribly wide after the Northern Ireland defence had been sliced apart.

The next moment of concern for O'Neill's side came when Bartosz Kapustak's effort was brilliantly tipped over by McGovern.

O'Neill continued to change tactics with Northern Ireland finishing the opening period in what appeared to be a 4-5-1 formation with Lafferty isolated and totally out of the game.

On the plus side they weren't behind as defenders Evans, McAuley, Cathcart, Ferguson and McLaughlin stood as firm as they could in the face of such an onslaught.

Dallas replaced McNair at the break to add more balance and width. You had to feel for 21-year-old McNair, a wonderful prospect, being asked to play in several different positions and in particular just behind Lafferty. He's versatile, but in a game of this magnitude that was too much to ask.

Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2016 Northern Ireland v Wales EURO 2016 Final 16 Northern Ireland Fans during this evening's game at Parc De Princes in Paris. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 25/6/2016 Northern Ireland v Wales EURO 2016 Final 16 Northern Ireland Fans during this evening's game at Parc De Princes in Paris. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland fans apply facepaint outside the stadium, as Wales fans walk behind them, prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry Northern Ireland's fans at todays game against Wales in the last 16 of the Euro 2016 tournament at the Parc des Princes, Paris.
Northern Ireland fan Justin Turner ready to support his side against Wales during Saturdays Round of 16 EURO 2016 match at the Parc des Princes, Paris . Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland fans ready to support side against Wales during Saturdays Round of 16 EURO 2016 match at the Parc des Princes, Paris . Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Northern Ireland suporters in the stands show their support ahead of the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans enjoy the atmosphere outside the stadium prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans wave a flag outside a bar prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
A Northern Ireland fan in facepaint prior to the round of 16 match at the Parc de Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
OLBIA, ITALY - JUNE 25: Darren Clarke and Amy Boulden pose with the flags of Northern Ireland and of Wales during The Costa Smeralda Invitational golf tournament at Pevero Golf Club - Costa Smeralda on June 25, 2016 in Olbia, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for Professional Sports Group )
Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans pose for a selfie in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Helen McConnell and daughter Lottie, wife and daughter of Northern Ireland's Jonny Evans in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Vanessa Chung, wife of Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Juneve Lamont, wife of Northern Ireland's Stuart Dallas in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong greets the fans beside the pitch before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Northern Ireland fans cross the Lagan Weir Foot Bridge in Belfast, enroute to the Titanic Fanzone to watch Northern Ireland V Germany in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A young Northern Ireland fan cheers on his side in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Parc Des Princes, Paris. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 21, 2016. See PA story SOCCER N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. Book and magazine sales permitted providing not solely devoted to any one team/player/match. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fan Neil Armstrong from Ballymena in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Robert McCreadie, Aaron Baxter, Craig Baxter and Farquhar in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fan Aaron Baxter from Newry in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Ivan Thompson and John Tilson in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Neil Melville and Colin Maxwell in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans Alison and Chris McHenry in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Northern Ireland fans in Paris where Northern Ireland will play their final Euro 2016 group game against Germany at the Parc des Princes.
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Jimmy Nesbitt parties with Darren Ryles and friends in Lyon
Northern Ireland fans party with Jimmy Nesbitt in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Northern Ireland fans in France
Jimmy Nesbitt mingles among fans in Lyon. Credit: Green and White Army Caravan in France
Belfast Telegraph journalists Adrian Rutherford and Claire Williamson (right) with Claire Graham.
Northern Ireland football fans descend upon Place Antonin Poncet, adjacent to the fan zone in Lyon, France.
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, and friends with Cool FM presenters Pete Snodden and Rebecca McKinney
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, with Cool FM presenter Pete Snodden
Steven Mawhinney, from Dromore, in France for the Euro finals
Andrew Kerr (Articlave), Jonno McCaughan (Coleraine), Roger Woodend (New Jersey, USA)
Philip Whyte (42), from South Belfast, and friends stand in front of the Poland team bus
Colin Murray poses with fans in France during the Euros
Mark Hunter (left) from Coleraine who now lives in Vancouver and Matt Livingstone from Coleraine who now lives in London at the Northern Ireland v Poland game on Sunday
Ballyclare man Jonny Lindsay with Jimmy Nesbitt.
Rob Latimer (34) from Dunadry bumps into James Nesbitt in Nice after Northern Ireland v Poland.
Sir Alex Ferguson (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Pat Jennings (centre) in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
Kate Hoey shows her support in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.
First Minister Arlene Foster with IFA President Jim Shaw and IFA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson at Poland V Northern Ireland in Nice, France. Photo by Press Eye
Northern Ireland's players pose ahead of the Euro 2016 group C football match between Poland and Northern Ireland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice. / AFP PHOTO / TOBIAS SCHWARZTOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Michael O'Neill manager of Northern Ireland looks on prior to the UEFA EURO 2016 Group C match between Poland and Northern Ireland at Allianz Riviera Stadium. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland fans show their support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland's Steven Davis (centre) during the warm-up before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland fans during Sundays Euro 2016, Group C match against Poland at the Stade de Nice, France.
Northern Ireland fans in the stands during the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
A Northern Ireland fan shows her support in the stands before the UEFA Euro 2016, Group C match at the Stade de Nice, Nice.
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans From L-R Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery with Polish fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans Graeme Hamilton, Conor Munn, Scott Robinson and Luke McCreery get a selfie with Polish Fans at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Northern Ireland v Poland Euro 2016 Group C Northern Ireland Fans David , Stuart and Colin Bell at this afternoons Euro 2016 International at the Allianz stadium in Nice on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
First Minister Arlene Foster joins Northern Ireland fans in Nice ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday.
Mark Jones and son Jack in Nice with Carl Frampton
Carl Frampton with fellow Northern Ireland fan James Tait in Nice
Northern Ireland supporter and Groom Stuart Stockman (second left) outside the Ma Nolan's Irish pub in Nice, France ahead of his team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 11, 2016. See PA story SPORT Euro2016 StagNI. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
Northern Ireland supporters enjoying the sights of Nice, France ahead of the team's opening match against Poland in Euro 2016.
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans are joined by a Polish football fan as they arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans appear on the balcony of their hotel on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the seafront near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans arrive on the beach near Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France. PA
Northern Ireland fans Chris Geoghegan and Richard McKnight from Belfast bump into Gary Lineker in France.
Philip Wright on tour with the Green and White army. They left on a 6am flight to Nice.
Ballymacash Northern Ireland supporter's club head off to France. Pic: Andrew Clarke
David Johnston and fellow Northern Ireland fans head off to France.
Crawford McCullough's 'mancave' in Bangor Co Down.
Northern Ireland flags flying in France. Picture: Dennis Russell
Adam Topping (33) from Scarva Northern Ireland in St Raphael. He has tickets all the way to the final so will not be home until July 11.
A Northern Ireland fan samples some ice cream in Lyon, France. Thursday June 9, 2016. PA
Colin Porter passing the time before he heads to Nice. Pic: Gary Porter
Home for Bedfordshire based Dave Price and his pals for the next two weeks at least
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough and Ian Thompson pictured at the boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fan Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A Local meets with Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel threw St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans on their way to France for Euro 2016. Pic: Gregg Clarke.
Northern Ireland Fan Russell Bridgett from Ballymena travelling through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
The boulangerie in Georges de Reneins, France with its window decorated ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland fans Eddie McCullough, George McFall, Ian Thompson, Darren McDonald and Russell Bridgett pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of their opening Euro 2016 game against Poland on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Local family and now Northern Ireland fans pictured in Georges de Reneins, France ahead of the opening Euro 2016 game against Poland in Lyon on Sunday. Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th June 2016 - Photo by William Cherry
Northern Ireland Fans Ian Thompson, George McFall , Russell Bridgett , Darren McDonald and Eddie McCullough from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland FanRussell Bridgett from Ballymena travel through St Georges de Reneines in a camper van, on the way to Nice as N Ireland face Poland in their opening match on Sunday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Within six minutes of the interval, Northern Ireland were behind. Jakub Blaszczykowski was allowed the freedom of Nice to cross from the right and with Milik, in space inside the area, he calmly slotted past McGovern as Cathcart and McAuley tried to block.

Conor Washington entered the fray and finally Northern Ireland looked threatening. The energetic Ward soon followed him on to the pitch.

Even so Poland were still the more likely team to score.

Northern Ireland's only real chance came in the dying minutes. Their set pieces had largely been a let-down until Norwood's smart pass picked out an equally clever run from the captain, who was inches away from connecting with the ball just yards from goal with 10,000 fans in green ready to erupt and hail a late leveller.

It wasn't to be.

Disappointment but not total despair. The dream is not over yet. It's Lyon next on Thursday against Ukraine when O'Neill's men simply have to win.

Hopefully the real Northern Ireland will show up then.

Belfast Telegraph

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