Belfast Telegraph

One more Windsor miracle can fire Northern Ireland to Euro glory: IFA chief

 

Irish Football Association president David Martin
Irish Football Association president David Martin

By Graham Luney

Irish Football Association president David Martin believes Michael O'Neill and his men can take another shot at Euro glory.

Northern Ireland made it all the way to the last 16 stage of the Euro 2016 finals in France and now the Green and White Army is daring to dream again after a stunning start to the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The Group C victories over Estonia and Belarus this month saw a Northern Ireland side win four games in a row at the start of a qualifying campaign for the first time.

With 12 points bagged from the opening four fixtures, O'Neill's men sit three points ahead of Germany who have a game in hand and nine ahead of the Netherlands who have played two games less. Paddy McNair's 86th-minute winner over Belarus in Borisov on Tuesday keeps Northern Ireland in the hunt for a Euro 2020 spot and with double headers to come against Germany and the Netherlands in the autumn, the stage is set for even more drama.

It looks like a three-way battle for the two qualifying spots on offer for next summer's championships and Martin hopes the good times keep rolling.

"We have hope and belief," said the Irish FA chief.

"There has been momentum from the Euro 2016 qualification campaign which ran into the World Cup qualifiers. While we didn't win any Nations League games the performances were good and now with four matches to go there is everything to play for. I believe out of the four games left we need one really big performance, possibly at Windsor. We have had our ups and downs but this is a great time to be a supporter.

"We have a very good unit and the manager gets the best out of the players. You can only admire how well organised the group are and what they have achieved under Michael's guidance.

"The training camps were obviously very beneficial to the players and the results reflect that."

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