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Carroll inspired by Frampton talk

Roy Carroll wants Northern Ireland to land a knockout blow against Finland after a pep talk from world champion Carl Frampton.

Belfast boy Frampton, the IBF world super bantamweight champion, visited Michael O'Neill's squad at their team hotel on Thursday to give a motivational Q&A ahead of Sunday's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier.

Afterwards he posed for pictures with the squad, several of which were posted by proud players on their Twitter feeds.

Victory over Finland at Windsor Park would take Northern Ireland to 12 points from a possible 15 and give them a huge chance of reaching their first major tournament in 30 years.

And if they managed that, Carroll and company would instantly be treated with the same reverence as Frampton in the province.

"Having Carl here with the players was fantastic," said the Notts County goalkeeper.

"We listened to him and watched his last fight. It was amazing, an honour to be in the same room.

"We've a lot of heroes in this country and hopefully we can join them in the Euros. That's my dream."

Such is the optimism around Northern Ireland's recent qualifying results, particularly back-to-back away wins in Greece and Hungary, Carroll is finally able to contemplate appearing at a major championship.

At 37, and with well-documented personal problems including drinking and gambling firmly in his past, that is something that once appeared highly unlikely.

"This is one of the biggest games for me, especially because I'm looking to go to the finals. It's a big opportunity for all of us," he said.

"Especially what's happened in my life the past 19 years, you know what I mean? There's been ups and downs.

"It'd be nice to finish on a high - not that I'm saying I'm finishing - but for me personally, it would be fantastic."


From Belfast Telegraph