FERMANAGH’S Roy Carroll, Kyle Lafferty and Michael McGovern are ready to face whatever challenges Euro 2016 might throw at them as they headed off for pre-tournament training with their Northern Ireland teammates earlier this week.
The local trio received a special send-off at Belfast City Airport on Monday as they travelled to the pre-Euro 2016 training camp in Austria. The Northern Ireland team enjoyed another buoyant farewell at Windsor Park last Friday night following their 3-0 win over Belarus in a friendly home game, their last before the Euro finals.
The 23-man side have spent five days in training before travelling to Slovakia for tonight’s final friendly warm-up game in Trnava. Manager Michael O’Neill and his players will then head to their tournament base of Lyon tomorrow before their Group C campaign begins against Poland in Nice on Sunday next, 12th June. They will face Ukraine in Lyon four days later before taking on world champions Germany in Paris on 21st June.
There is plenty of buzz around the Fermanagh players taking part in the eagerly anticipated tournament – the first for which the North has qualified in 30 years. The three men feature on giant posters erected in Enniskillen this week by the IFA alongside the campaign slogan #daretodream. Another has been unveiled in Kyle Lafferty’s home town of Kesh.
For the family of Michael McGovern (31), one of three goalkeepers in the Northern Ireland squad, news of his selection in the contingent bound for France, went down extremely well with mum, Carmel and dad, Terry.
The family home is on the Irvinestown road out of Enniskillen, which partly explains Michael’s earlier exploits with Coa GFC.
“The whole family, about 11 or 12 of us, are going over to France”, Mrs McGovern explained. “He has four siblings in Scotland and one over here, and we’re all going.”
She recalled that Michael was “not overly interested” in football until P4 or P5.
“He actually didn’t play much football till he was 10. He played both gaelic and soccer and soccer won out. They absolutely love him at Hamilton (Academicals) FC and he gets on well with them.”
Turning to Michael O’Neill and the NI squad itself, she said her son got on well with both.
“To me, that’s a good thing.”
The other local players have plenty to celebrate too as they head to the Euros. Goalkeeper and Tamlaght lad Roy Carroll has just signed a one year deal at Linfield to take effect from today (June 1st). Meanwhile striker Kyle Lafferty (28) has credited his new model wife Vanessa Chung for her influence on him as he carries the hopes of Northern Ireland on his shoulders in France.
Posted: 9:00 am June 4, 2016