Northern Ireland announce 23-man squad for Euro 2016

The Green and White Army finally found out who would be representing them at this summer's tournament.

Northern Ireland announce 23-man squad for Euro 2016
Image credit: Niall Carson/PA

If reality hadn't hit after the Belarus win or as the players thanked the fans for their unconditional support last night, then - perhaps with a few sore heads - it sank in on Saturday.

Northern Ireland will be going to France this summer, their first appearance at a major tournament finals for 30 years and a debut showing in the European Championship.

Michael O'Neill named his 23-strong squad for Euro 2016 at noon during an event at Titanic Quarter, Belfast.

Whittling it down

All those selected in last night's 22-man troop for the 3-0 triumph at Windsor Park made it on the plane, and will be joined by Shane Ferguson.

O'Neill had named 28 players in his squad for the final home friendly, with his intentions to cut to the necessary 23 on the next day already clear.

Liam Boyce, Billy McKay, Daniel Lafferty, Ben Reeves and Michael Smith were the quintet who were left disappointed, and will not be making the trip to France.

Boyce loses Grigg battle

The biggest decision that O'Neill admittedly had to make involved Will Grigg and Boyce, with the former just edging ahead of the Ross County forward.

The manager, speaking to the BBC, explained his decision: "It was very difficult to tell the players who were not going, it was hard choice between Will Grigg and Liam Boyce."

O'neill said it was "a difficult decision", but believes it was "the right one". Grigg scored his first international goal on Friday evening to finish the 3-0 win with a flourish.

Steve Davis wheels away in celebration after scoring against Latvia. | Image source: Sky Sports
Steve Davis wheels away in celebration after scoring against Latvia. | Image source: Sky Sports

Perfect performance to head for France

The fans got exactly what they were after on a warm and sunny evening in Belfast, as their heroes extended their unbeaten run to 11 games.

Kyle Lafferty bundled the ball over the line early on before Conor Washington struck just before the break.

The second half was less of a contest with Northern Ireland happy to play keep-ball, but Grigg got the goal the whole world craved with two minutes to go.

O'Neill's men open up their Euro 2016 campaign in 15 days time, when they take on Poland in Nice.

Northern Ireland squad in full

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Linfield), Alan Mannus (St. Johnstone), Michael McGovern (Hamilton Academical).

Defenders: Chris Baird (Derby County), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jonny Evans (West Bromwich Albion), Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Aaron Hughes (free agent), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion), Luke McCullough (Doncaster Rovers), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town).

Midfielders: Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Steven Davis (Southampton), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Paddy McNair (Manchester United), Oliver Norwood (Reading), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest).

Forwards: Will Grigg (Wigan Athletic), Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock), Conor Washington (Queen's Park Rangers).