Celtic 1 Dundee Utd 1
Niall McGinn thanked Celtic manager Tony Mowbray for handing him his Parkhead debut against Dundee United and now wants to play his part in Europe.
The 22-year-old Northern Ireland international, signed from Derry City in January, was drafted in for the suspended Aiden McGeady and turned in a man-of-the-match performance in an entertaining 1-1 draw before being replaced late on by Koki Mizuno.
Mowbray admitted afterwards that McGinn has been a victim of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League rules which state that three under-21 players must be in the match-day squad.
However, the Hoops wide-man expressed his gratitude at eventually getting his chance.
“I want to thank the manager for giving me my first start for Celtic,” he said.
“Tony Mowbray has been 100 per cent with me since he came to Celtic in the summer, he has spoken to me and told me where I stand.
“He knows that I will give everything that I have for the team whenever I get my chance.
“He told me to get at United and use my pace and hopefully I did him proud.
“The fans were behind me from the start and I could feel them willing me to do well.
“Every time Andreas Hinkel got the ball I could hear them encouraging him to give it to me and that was encouraging for me.
“Hopefully I will be included in the squad for the Europa League game away to Hapoel Tel Aviv on Thursday, I would be over the moon if that was the case.”
McGinn revealed his Celtic debut caused a big stir in Donaghmore, the village in County Tyrone from where the Irishman hails.
He said: “On Friday I told a few people back home that I was starting and my agent, Gerry Carlile, and a few people from my village booked flights right away to come and see the game.
“Afterwards I got lots of texts from people from Donaghmore, saying that they had watched the game in the local pub and were proud of me.
“So that has also given me a big boost.”
McGinn contributed more than most to a lively game which saw David Goodwillie's sixth-minute strike cancelled out by Scott McDonald's close-range header.
In a lively second half Celtic substitute Georgios Samaras had a goal controversially ruled out for offside and United midfielder Scott Robertson was sent off late on after picking up two yellow cards.
A couple of penalty claims at either end added to the excitement and neither manager complained too much about the result.
Dundee United manager Craig Levein said: “For their equaliser, we made a decision to defend the free-kick like a corner and that was an error on our part but I would like to compliment my players on the way we played.
“I was pleased with the way my players applied themselves and the way they showed composure.”