Football

Northern Ireland Boss O'Neill Defiantly Condemns Sectarian 'Idiots'

Northern Ireland Boss O'Neill Defiantly Condemns Sectarian 'Idiots'

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill has issued a rallying call to football fans North of the border in wake of the sectarian video shambles that overshadowed his side's 2-1 victory over Belarus on Sunday night.

The Ballymena man condemned the actions of a number of Northern Ireland shirted supporters who were seen chanting "we hate Catholics" to the tune of popular eighties pop song "I Think We're Alone Now", in a video that was later posted to social media.

But whilst disappointed, the former Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers manager, himself a talented Gaelic Footballer in his youth, emphasised that he would not let the episode preoccupy him.

There’s certainly no place for that kind of behaviour, but I can’t dwell on that because it’s one or two idiots and they’re not a reflection on the 99.9% of the support.

As I’ve said all along, the Northern Ireland team is for everyone and that’s the message - we’re stronger together and we’ll continue in that vein.

The incident blighted what has been a solid start to the campaign for the North, whose two wins in as many matches see them set the early pace in Group C of their Euro 2020 qualifying group.

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Sunday night's victory over travelling Belarus followed another home win against Estonia last Thursday - a game in which another Catholic, Niall McGinn, opened the scoring.

They were two games that O'Neill could ill-afford to drop points in, with Germany and Netherlands the two remaining side's battling for the two automatic passes to the finals in Group C.

The IFA have condemned the actions of the individuals involved in the video nasty and have reiterated their commitment to stamping sectarian from the support, promising to issue lifetime bans to anyone who can be positively identified.

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Aaron Strain

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