Keeper McGovern wants to top group

Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern boarding the plane to Finland
Northern Ireland's Michael McGovern boarding the plane to Finland

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern believes Northern Ireland can put the icing on their 2016 European Championship qualification by topping their group.

Michael O’Neill’s team require only one point from tomorrow’s final game in Finland to achieve that.

Hamilton Accies shot stopper McGovern was sucked into a roller-coaster of emotions following Thursday night’s amazing 3-1 win over Greece at Windsor Park in front of a fanatical home support.

“We have worked hard to get ourselves into this position . . . it’s now all about finishing top of the group,” said McGovern. “We actually though we had won it, but then we heard that Romania had scored late on against Finland

“Yes, we’ve come this far, so we now want to finish it off. We have to be professional about it. We want to top it of with a performance in Finland.”

Thursday’s win was in total contrast to McGovern’s previous outing when his error gifted Hungry what could have been a crucial goal before Kyle Laffety levelled deep into injury time.

“Football is a funny game. After making the mistake against Hungary. But I kept my faith . . . I kept a strong mentality.”

And, against Greece he made a vital save before Josh Magennis shot the home team ahead.

“I was just happy to contributute in such a big night.”

for the country,” he added. “Once we got the goals, the second half was really comfortable.”

McGovern admits he was once at the crossroads in terms of his international future, adding: “I was quite down at one stage . . . I didn’t play in the South American tour last year. But I’ve now earned my seventh cap, which is unreal.

“It proves if you keep the faith and keep working hard, fortunes can turn.”

Manchester United defender Paddy McNair admitted it was a night he’ll never forget.

“It was an unbelievable . . . my first appearance at Windsor Park,” he said. “It was certainly on a par with making my Man United debut.

“They are both now very special to me. We need one more point to win the group, so we’ll be focused on that.

“I think we had a few nerves before the game, but everyone was quietly confident we could get the job done. Once we went 2-0 up, we were cruising. It’s just a pity we conceded late on.

“It’s a night I’ll never forget.”