29/03/2015 Belfast Finland 2-1 Kyle Lafferty (2)
Roy Carroll, Conor McLaughlin, Gareth McAuley, Jonathan Evans, Chris Brunt, Jamie Ward, Oliver Norwood, Chris Baird, Steven Davis (Corry Evans), Niall McGinn (Stuart Dallas), Kyle Lafferty (Josh Magennis)
Kyle Lafferty scored his 13th and 14th international goals, equaling then surpassing Billy Gillespie and Colin Clarke as Northern Ireland’s second highest ever goalscorer as Northern Ireland, who have never made the final stages of the European Championship, remain on course to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their appearance in Mexico with a spot in the final 24 next summer.
* Trivia –
Cracks in the structure of the Kop (West) stand were spotted on the Tuesday following the win over Finland. The area was sealed off while photographs of the stand show visible evidence of subsistence of the Kop Stand which was full to capacity only 48 hours before.
Michael O’Neill –
“Many aspects of our play were really pleasing. We showed real conviction to win the game and that shone through in the performance.”
“Qualifying is a realistic possibility but our next challenge is Romania. A win in that game would take us top of the group and we have our preparations laid out in front of us. Romania are an excellent team and we will have to be at our very best if we are to beat them, but we are well capable of doing it.”
Kyle Lafferty –
“What Michael says inspires me and gets me up for the games. I’m buzzing playing for him. He is the best manager I have played under and gets the best from me. He pulls me to one side before every game.”
“The last campaign I let everyone down, but Michael had a word with me and it really hit home. I am probably glad he did that. The trust he has shown in me means a lot. I don’t like calling myself a hero, I think all the boys were heroes out there. I scored two goals which is brilliant for me personally, but if I don’t score another goal in the campaign and we qualify I will be happy enough.”
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves but if we keep playing like we are now, it would be a disappointment if we didn’t get there. The next game in June is going to be massive for us against Romania because it is a top-of-the-table clash.”
29/03/1995 Dublin Republic of Ireland 1-1 Iain Dowie
Alan Fettis, Darren Patterson, Nigel Worthington, Colin Hill, Gerry Taggart, Alan McDonald, Steve Morrow, Jim Magilton, Iain Dowie, Michael Hughes, Keith Gillespie
Security was tight for this match not only because it was the two Ireland’s facing each other, but a month earlier English fans had rioted at Lansdowne Road causing damage to the stand and subsequently getting the match abandoned.
Bryan Hamilton packed the Northern Ireland midfield and left Iain Dowie up front on his own seemingly looking for a draw after Northern Ireland’s 4-0 home defeat to the Republic the previous November. Niall Quinn opened the scoring in the 47th minute. Iain Dowie scored Northern Ireland’s first goal in Dublin for Northern Ireland to equalize in the 73rd minute, after Paul McGrath mis-headed the ball, allowing Keith Gillespie to race down the right wing and subsequently sent in a cross which Dowie met with his head.
Bryan Hamilton –
“I’m very pleased with the result, I see it as a point gained. We defended well, worked very hard and competed everywhere. We got what we deserved today.”
“I’m very pleased for the players, I was hard on them after the Republic beat us 4-0 in Belfast in November and I was very hard on them in training this week. We worked hard for our point and it was a great reward for the players, who have been under pressure after that Belfast result. A defeat here would have put us out of contention but I think we are still in it. Whatever the case, this will help us progress as a learning team and give us belief that we can again become a top-class squad. It is a wonderful boost for the people of Northern Ireland. The loss of a point won’t hurt the Republic too much. They have a many-talented squad, and Jack (Charlton) and I are good friends. We can help each other with a few results in this group now and I certainly hope they qualify.”
Jack Charlton –
“We took a chance playing the ball across the back when it wasn’t necessary and got punished for it. Young Gillespie made a great run and Iain Dowie headed a super goal — one we would have been proud of at the other end. He deserved it for all the work he did. We have to accept we can’t get everything we want. We had a great win over the North in Belfast but it was never going to be that way today.”