Belfast Telegraph

Michael O'Neill deserves success, says David Healy

By Graham Luney

David Healy wasn’t part of the Northern Ireland squad that humbled the mighty Russia but he was still able to feel some of the elation boss Michael O’Neill must have experienced.

 

There are easier jobs in world football than being the Northern Ireland supremo but on a few special occasions your players produce a performance that leaves you walking on air.

Long-suffering O’Neill has had to endure nine matches without a victory — a statistic that would have any boss waking up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat!

The former Shamrock Rovers chief chose to leave Healy out of his squad for the World Cup qualifier but the Killyleagh man looked on with immense pride as another Northern Ireland striker — Martin Paterson — displayed that golden touch in front of goal.

It was a memorable night for the Green and White Army — not quite up there with Healy’s heroics in 2005 when England were sunk at Windsor Park but it was still a genuine moment to savour.

And Healy was thrilled to see a big beaming smile on O’Neill’s face.

“I thought it was a fantastic performance from minute one to minute 90 and I’m really pleased for Michael,” said Healy.

“People start asking questions when you don’t get results and we probably should have had a few wins but this is a huge boost going into the next few games.

“Michael puts so much hard work into the job and he’s very dedicated not just to the first team but to grassroots football and a lot of people probably don’t see that hard work. Huge credit to him and his staff for this result. It’s a big monkey off the back, getting that first win and hopefully we can kick on.

“Finally Northern Ireland have a striker who is willing to run channels! That certainly helps and Pato produced a fantastic header.”

On his future, Healy said: “It will be determined by what offers come along. The main thing for me tonight was enjoying what this result means for Michael.”

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