Belfast Telegraph

Jim Magilton eyes a bright future for Northern Ireland

By Graham Luney

Jim Magilton feels Northern Ireland's success will encourage more talented prospects to hit the big time and even help slow down the movement of young players to the Republic of Ireland set-up.

Qualification for the Euro 2016 finals, a first slice of major tournament action since 1986, sends out a strong message to players that they can taste stunning success on the international stage.

Windsor Park is being given a fantastic make-over and Michael O'Neill has just signed a four-year deal after guiding his country to the showpiece tournament in France where they will take on Germany, Poland and Ukraine.

Northern Ireland Under-21 boss Magilton, who is also the Irish FA's elite performance director, welcome O'Neill's deal and backed the Northern Ireland conveyor belt to keep producing.

"In terms of players opting for the Republic it has quietened down and I think every player that comes into our set-up understands that the opportunity to play at the highest level of the game exists with Northern Ireland," said Magilton.

"We also have a manager that has got a major tournament qualification on his CV and we trust that players can see the strides forward we are making.

"His new deal is great for everyone concerned because there is continuity. Michael has gone on record about how much he has appreciated the backing he has received from the Irish FA when he was given another opportunity with this group of players and together they have been outstanding."

Belfast Telegraph


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