Niall McGinn: “We have to take the positives”

Niall McGinn (left) with Corry Evans following Northern Ireland's equaliser against Austria. Pic by INPHO.
Niall McGinn (left) with Corry Evans following Northern Ireland's equaliser against Austria. Pic by INPHO.

Northern Ireland winger Niall McGinn felt the 2-1 defeat to Austria in the UEFA Nations League simply summed up their campaign in the competition.

Michael O’Neill’s men had looked competitive in patches against Austria - as they had done in the previous group games against the Austrians and Bosnia & Herzegovina - but ended up with nothing.

The group table is not impressive viewing, with Northern Ireland having played four and lost four. But at times O’Neill’s men had done well against both their rivals before losing the encounters.

Aberdeen winger McGinn says they are disappointed with the way the campaign has gone but things are not as bad as they would seem.

“I think it sums up the Nations League in general where we performed well, created chances without putting the ball in the net,” he said. “We were the team tonight in the ascendancy and we looked as if we could go on and win it.

“But all-in-all it just shows when you make a mistake, or things are maybe not going your way and then you are punished by a great finish that you get from great opposition.

“There are times you get punished and more or less we were punished by the last kick of the ball.

”There are maybe times in this campaign that we have played a lot better than we did in the Euro 2016 campaign, when we maybe hung in there at times to get the right results.

“And, at the end of the day, this is a results-based business and you have to win games and that breeds confidence.

“The confidence is always there in the squad and the performances have shown that, but maybe the final ball or getting ahead in games and holding out is what we are missing.

“We are disappointed with the result but we have to take the positives from the performances in the campaign.”

McGinn believes this campaign has allowed manager O’Neill to blood a few of the younger players - which will benefit the squad in the years to come.

“Yes, there are lots of positives,” he said. “The size of the squad is massive and there is competition for places, which is great with the youth coming in and the experience we have here shows you how strong this squad is.

“That can only benefit us when the Euro campaign comes around.

“This campaign will stand us in good stead and the performances have been good but we have to build on those performances.

“But more than that we have to get back to winning ways when the Euro campaign comes around.”

And McGinn is looking forward to the draw for the next European Championships - which take place on December 2 in Dublin.

“We have played against all the big teams but getting the likes of England here to Windsor Park would be unbelievable, to play against players you see on the television in the Premier League all the time,” he added.