Belfast Telegraph

Spirit can take us all the way in Euro 2016, say Northern Ireland fans after victory

By Ian Cahoon

Buoyant Northern Ireland fans have hailed the spirit in Michael O'Neill's side after a rare victory on the road.

More than 1,000 fans made the trip to Budapest to see Northern Ireland get their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign off to the perfect start.

And it was the fact O'Neill's men showed the character to come from behind in the 2-1 victory which pleased some fans the most.

"Winning an away match is rare and winning when we've had to come from behind doesn't happen too often either!" said Andrew Mitchell. "I think we're starting to see the fruit of what Michael O'Neill is doing with the players come to bear now.

"The tour over the summer showed a lot of promise and I don't think spirit has ever been a problem under O'Neill.

"It would have been really easy to pack it in once we went a goal down, but it showed brilliant character to not only equalise but also go on and win it. It's a dream start, not many had us down to win the game."

Chris Gourley singled out the returning Kyle Lafferty for most praise.

"Hats off to Kyle Lafferty, that's what everyone knows he is capable of," he said.

"Playing up front, essentially on your own, for Northern Ireland is a pretty thankless task most of the time but he played the role brilliantly.

"He kept his discipline and when did get the ball in and around the box he did the damage when we needed him to.

"If he shows that sort of form over the campaign then we have a real chance, because when he's not there we can't replace him.

"I'm really pleased for Michael O'Neill as well, he has had a rough time so far, but it's nights like that which keep you going."

Harry Wallace thinks the blend O'Neill has found could be a winning one in this campaign.

He said: "When you look at the team which started the game there's a nice wee blend of youth and experience.

"Players like Carroll, McAuley, Hughes and Brunt have all been around for a long time now.

"You can't underestimate how important it is to have those players in the team and squad.

"It'll be a long campaign but if we have that sort of spirit then we can hang in there I think."

Marty Young added: "It was the perfect away performance.

"When they score that late on you think it's going to be another typical performance of so near, yet so far.

"Games away from home have been our problem forever and a day, but we've set the tone now against one of the better sides in the group.

"If we can follow this up against the Faroes now then who knows what is possible."

Gary Kidd believes a group minus one of Europe's big names could now work to our benefit.

"When the draw was made people said we might struggle because there was no big name to raise our game against," he said.

"I think the Hungary game showed that the opposite might be true though, because there are quite a few evenly matched countries. People will still write us off, but long may it continue if we get results like this."

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