A local GAA club is standing side by side with a soccer goal-scoring ace who famously turned down Mickey Harte’s offer of playing for Tyrone in front of 80,000 fans at Croke Park.
Donaghmore GAA club has expressed their support in a number of tweets for Northern Ireland star Niall McGinn, who came off the subs bench on Thursday to score against Ukraine deep in stoppage time. The club promised that all its players and fans will be supporting him.
“Best of luck in the Euro Championship from all the players and supporters of Donaghmore GAA Club. We’ll all be supporting you”, said one of the tweets.
28-year-old McGinn, who played GAA with the club said the messages have been surreal.
Dungannon Swifts have also put up posters and he says there’ve been messages of support from Derry City and his current club, Aberdeen.
McGinn was the man who started Northern Ireland on the road to the nation’s first European Championships when he equalised in the opening qualifying game in Hungary and then set up Kyle Lafferty for a late winner.
What has turned into a remarkable journey started out at his local GAA club and then Irish League side Dungannon Swifts.
He played for both - on one occasion on the same day - but he knew something had to give when League of Ireland outfit Derry City came looking for him in 2008. He recalled: “I played a lot of Gaelic football when I was younger. Back then people wanted me to go down that route, but to become a professional footballer was a dream for me. I have a couple of All-Ireland medals from vocational levels, played for Tyrone minors, Tyrone Under-21s and was part of the Tyrone seniors set-up.” McGinn famouusly relays the story of how Mickey Harte tried to persuade him to play on a historic night for the county, but he turned him down.