Northern Ireland winger Niall McGinn dedicated last night’s debut Windsor Park goal to his community.
The Dungannon man admitted the tragic deaths of students Lauren Bullock, Connor Currie, and Morgan Barnard hit everyone in Donaghmore.
“It was an important goal for Northern Ireland but it was for my local community as well,” he stated. “I was devastated, it was in the back of my mind to do well in the game and score a goal.
“The little girl only lives two doors down from my sister and it was so, so sad. My sister was down at the house the other day and my mum has been along as well. I saw the remains coming home and it has been a desperate time for all the families involved.
“I have spoken to a lot of people and everyone in Donaghmore is devastated and if me doing well and scoring a goal on the international stage can bring any sort of shred of light to the local community that is good.
“A lot of people back home will look up to you. I came from a GAA background and have gone on to have a successful career as a footballer and playing for Northern Ireland and I’m proud to represent Donaghmore and my local community.”
The Aberdeen man, who has now scored in his last three games, is delighted to get his Windsor Park goalscoring monkey off his back.
“Yeah definitely, I’ve always wanted to score at Windsor,” he added. “I felt good coming into the game, I’ve scored in my last two games for Aberdeen against Rangers and then Livingston at the weekend.
“Confidence has been good, but there’s probably been a thing in the back of my mind that I’ve never scored here.
“I’ve achieved a lot in my career with Northern Ireland - getting 50 caps, playing in a major tournament and scoring in a major tournament.
“Scoring at Windsor was definitely something that I wanted to do, I’m delighted to have scored, but getting the win was the most important thing.”
The former Derry City man is hoping his recent goal-scoring form can continue against Belarus on Sunday.
“I’m not a striker, but being a wide player it’s about getting into good positions at the right time,” he said. “We like to get the ball wide to the likes of myself and Jordan (Jones) and we know we have a big threat in the box with Kyle (Lafferty) and Josh (Magennis).
“First and foremost it’s about creating chances as a wide player, but if we can get in the box and try and score it is a bonus. I’ve done that at club level and I’ve scored a few for Northern Ireland as well.
“I was delighted. I had a chance early on on my left foot, and another from a corner that was blocked.
“I think Paddy McNair was coming up behind me for the one I scored but there was definitely no way he was getting it.
“Paddy had a few chances, I thought it was my turn to step up and score and thankfully I did.
“I caught it sweet, it went into the corner, and I’ve gone off to celebrate.”
McGinn feels the recent change of style under Michael O’Neill’s stewardship is pleasing.
“I think previously in my early days it was get men behind the ball and defend,” he added. “But recently we’ve been more attacking, getting the ball wide and creating opportunities.
“It’s good for the fans to come along and see that type of football, if we keep doing that as a team we’ll win more games than we lose.”