Belfast Telegraph

Where would we be without big Josh Magennis?: Northern Ireland fans react to victory in Estonia

Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates netting in Tallinn.
Northern Ireland's Josh Magennis celebrates netting in Tallinn.

By Ian Cahoon

Relieved Northern Ireland fans hailed boss Michael O'Neill and striker Josh Magennis for keeping their Euro 2020 dreams alive.

Just over 1,100 fans made the trip to Tallinn, with many more glued to their TV screens back home, and they were all in jubilant mood after the second half fightback.

With O'Neill's three substitutions turning the game on its head to seal a 2-1 victory, fans were queuing up to hail the inspirational manager.

"Michael gets it right so often, it's no coincidence," said Gary Wray.

"We were so flat in the first half but he's made the right decisions and all three players who came on played a massive part.

"Things aren't always going to go your own way, especially away from home, and we showed the sort of character you need if you're going to do anything."

Belfast fan James Semple hailed the big Bangor man's influence from the bench, not for the first time in this qualifying campaign.

"Where would we be in this group without big Josh?" he said. "Some people give him a bit of stick, but he knows exactly what he's good at and the players around him know how to play to his strengths too.

"The big man deserves to start against Belarus, not just for his goal on Saturday but for how well he's done throughout the group."

With 20 minutes of the game left, and trailing 1-0, Green And White Army member Andy Gorman admitted he had all but given up on the chances of making it to next season's European Championships.

He said: "A win was so important, anything less and our interest in the group was more or less finished.

"If we can go to Belarus and win, then who knows, it puts pressure on Germany and Holland and you hope one of them can slip up somewhere.

"We've gone all the way in the last two campaigns, so it would be nice to keep this one going right to the end as well."

It's on to Minsk for the next assignment in Northern Ireland's Euro adventure and fans are already looking forward to Tuesday's encounter.

"The players have to go there with a lot of confidence now," said Gary McDowell.

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