Belfast Telegraph

'No way Paddy McNair was getting it': Niall McGinn reacts to first Northern Ireland goal at Windsor Park

Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores in action during the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park on March 21th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Northern Ireland's Niall McGinn scores in action during the Euro Qualifier at Windsor Park on March 21th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

As hard to believe as it is, Niall McGinn had never scored for Northern Ireland at Windsor Park before Thursday night. So Paddy McNair certainly wasn't going to stop him.

When Kyle Lafferty controlled Jordan Jones' dangerous cross and fed it out to the edge of the box, both players burst forward to slam it home.

But it was McGinn was bulled his way to the front of the queue and smashed it past the helpless Estonia keeper Sergei Lepmets.

"I was delighted," he smiled. I had a chance in the first few minutes with my left foot and one from a corner as well that I caught nice and it was blocked.

"When it fell, Paddy was coming up behind me but there was definitely no way he was going to get it. I caught it sweet, it went into the corner and off I went celebrating.

"Paddy had a few chances so I thought it was my time to step up and score and thankfully I did.

"I'm delighted to get the first one out of the way and if I can chip in with another one or two during the campaign I'll be delighted."

McNair had, unbelievably, missed from point-blank range with a first-half header as fans could have been forgiven for fearing a repeat of their 2018 frustrations.

Before Estonia rocked up in south Belfast, Northern Ireland had failed to score in eight of their last 12 matches. In fact, this was their first competitive victory since September 2017 - nine matches.

So it must have felt pretty good?

"Probably not relief," said McGinn. "The performances have always been there and we've stayed quite positive. Against Bosnia and Austria, there were good performances there obviously against top opposition.

"At home, the performances have been good. Thankfully tonight we got the win and we move on to Sunday."

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McGinn was one of the top performers as Northern Ireland showcased their new fast-paced attacking style that's still a work in progress, having been worked on during 2018.

"It's been good," he said. "In my early days coming in here, it was men behind the ball and defend for long periods of time but now in the last number of years we've been more attacking, get the ball wide, getting crosses into the box and creating opportunities.

"It's good for the fans to come and see that style of football at Windsor, which we've enjoyed over the last four or five seasons. If we keep doing that as a team, we're going to win more teams than we don't."

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