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Six of the best: The big results that helped Ian Baraclough land top Northern Ireland job

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New Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

New Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

New Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough

Ian Baraclough is in the opening days of his new job as Northern Ireland manager.

But just did the former Scunthorpe, Sligo Rovers, Motherwell and Northern Ireland U21 chief land the top job?

Here's a look back at six of the biggest results in his managerial career so far:

OCTOBER 2012: Sligo Rovers 3-2 St Patrick’s Athletic

Having been sacked as boss of Scunthorpe United sooner than he felt he deserved, Ian Baraclough became manager of Sligo Rovers in early 2012 and proceeded to guide the club to their first League title in 35 years.

He admits he didn’t know where Sligo was when first approached about the job, but on the night Rovers were crowned Champions he was the talk of the town.

The Bit O’ Red trailed to St Pat’s by two goals before Christy Fagan and Chris Forrester levelled in the second half. Then came an 89th-minute penalty from Mark Quigley to seal the deal and spark crazy celebrations that went on for days. 

MAY 2014: Dundalk 0-1 Sligo Rovers

After winning the League of Ireland title in 2012 and the FAI Cup in 2013, Baraclough made it a treble with Sligo in 2014 as his team triumphed in the Setanta Sports Cup, beating Dundalk in the Final.

With rain pouring down inside Tallaght Stadium, Sligo scored early on through Paul O’Conor in what turned out to be the only goal of the game.

Dundalk were managed by Stephen Kenny, now the Republic of Ireland boss. At his media conference on Tuesday, Baraclough said he would love a similar outcome in a possible Euro 2020 Play-Off Final in November.

MAY 2015: Rangers 1-3 Motherwell

In a two-legged Play-Off to determine who would play in the Scottish Premiership the following season, all eyes were on Rangers with their fans hoping elevation to the top flight was on the horizon.

Baraclough and his Motherwell side had other ideas as they opened up a first-leg lead in front of a stunned Ibrox crowd.

Lee Erwin’s deflected strike, Stephen McManus and Lionel Ainsworth put Motherwell 3-0 up and in control of the tie.

A late Rangers goal from Darren McGregor mattered little in a brilliant display from the visitors.

MAY 2015: Motherwell 3-0 Rangers

At Fir Park in the second leg of the promotion/relegation Play-Off, Motherwell proved too strong for Rangers, just as they had done at Ibrox a few days before.

Again, Baraclough got his tactics spot on as his side comfortably defeated the Glasgow giants thanks to deflected goals from Marvin Johnson and Ainsworth before John Sutton netted a late penalty, earning the Steelmen a 6-1 aggregate success to preserve their Premiership status.

The match ended in controversy with a brawl at the final whistle, but it did not stop Baraclough (below) feeling a great deal of satisfaction that he had pulled off a massive result.

SEPTEMBER 2018: Spain U21 1-2 Northern Ireland U21

This was the greatest result in the history of the Northern Ireland Under-21 side, masterminded by Baraclough.

Earlier in the 2019 European Championship qualifying campaign, Baraclough’s boys had given the Spanish side, packed with La Liga stars, a real scare in a compelling 5-3 defeat at Shamrock Park.

In Albacete, Northern Ireland stunned the hosts, with livewire striker Shayne Lavery and skipper Liam Donnelly scoring goals in the opening eight minutes.

The Spanish piled on the pressure but Northern Ireland stood firm, with the outstanding Conor Hazard saving a Borja Mayoral penalty prior to a deflected injury-time Rafael Mir effort giving the home side a consolation.

OCTOBER 2018: Northern Ireland U21 1-0 Slovakia U21

In the final game of the Euro 2019 Under-21 qualifying campaign, Northern Ireland needed to beat Slovakia and hope results elsewhere would go their way to reach the Play-Offs.

Part one was completed when Mark Sykes was on target to secure a 1-0 victory in a dominant display at Windsor Park.

Unfortunately part two didn’t work out, but Baraclough and his team could look back on a hugely impressive series of matches, winning six times out of 10 — previously unheard of at that level.

Belfast Telegraph