Northern Ireland: UEFA Euro 2028 Play Off

Ok, this one came as a total surprise to me. After missing out on qualification through the standard group, we were somehow placed into a Play Off fixture. I can only assume this is in some way related to the UEFA Nations League although there does not seem to be any actual explanation of this in the game…

We’d participate in a semi final (and potentially final) in March 2028. One issue – Choy Yiu Fai would miss out through injury!

Semi Final v Romania

We made easy work of this tie with Stephen Robinson easily filling the boots of the missing Choy. This game will however be notable for one big thing – Stephen Coyle equals the Northern Ireland international goalscoring record of 36 goals!

It was just before the hour mark so this phrase seems perfectly apt – COMETH THE HOUR, COMETH THE MAN! Stephen Coyle strikes in typically cool fashion as he sweeps home the cross from Callum Simpson

Final v Austria

The scene was set, the script pretty much written. We’d qualify for Euro 2028 and it would be thanks to Stephen Coyle’s record breaking goal.

The problem is that football doesn’t always obey the script. Football does not bow to the wims of man. We were undone again. Undone again from a two goal lead, with a 93rd minute goal denying us our chance at Euro 2028 – for the second time in this qualifying routine.

After 10 minutes we were flying. By half time we were coasting but Konrad Laimer’s brace sent the game to 30 minutes of extra time. In the third minute of the additional 30, disaster struck and the Windsor faithful were left bemoaning their luck again.

Choy and Coyle

I know I said it wasn’t about national success but I can’t help but feel the sting of this one.

Aside from this, Choy played no part in the play off fixtures so his tally remains unchanged. Coyle equaled the record and is waiting in the wings, ready to strike and complete the biggest feat of his career so far.

Here’s how things stand in our own focus:

David Healy: 95 caps / 36 goals

Stephen Coyle: 41 caps / 36 goals

Choy Yiu Fai: 30 caps / 15 goals

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