600 Northern Ireland fans set to applaud the heroes of Sarajevo
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
THANKFULLY the situation’s rather brighter for Northern Ireland than it was for the Light Brigade and the 600 fans set to be in Windsor Park tomorrow night need fear little more than, perhaps, another Nations League loss.
More importantly they can applaud the players who took NI onward to the Euro play-off final next month back in Belfast against Slovakia, thanks to beating Bosnia & Herzegovina in a penalty shoot-out in Sarajevo.
Goalscorer Niall McGinn was just one of many heroes, netting an equaliser early in the second half before goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell forced extra time and penalties with some smart saves.
BP-F saved one spot-kick and Stuart Dallas, plus substitutes Kyle Lafferty, Conor Washington, and Liam Boyce all scored to ensure a 4-3 shoot-out success.
McGinn revealed afterwards that the celebrations were unusual, with pizza thrown around in delight rather than anger, and water the tipple – well, mostly:
“We’ll maybe have one drink tonight,” admitted the Donaghmore man. “Just all sorts of pizza flying everywhere, water flying everywhere. All in all delighted. We have to enjoy this one but, more importantly, we’ll rest up and recover for Sunday.”
The 33-year-old was taken off after 82 minutes so had to watch the shoot-out rather than participate, saying: “I’m delighted for all the boys who stepped up and took a penalty, and just so happy for all the fans back home who couldn’t be here.
“They [close to 2,000 Bosnia fans] created a good atmosphere and it was nice to be part of it, but we wish the Green and White Army could have been here to enjoy that one.
“Over the moon personally - but more importantly we’re one step closer to where we want to be.”