Northern Ireland: UEFA Nations League 2026

We’re back into UEFA Nations League action and, as mentioned previously, we will compete in League B with Austria, Slovakia and Ukraine in our group.

It’s a difficult enough group for a nation of our level and, realistically, a good campaign would simply be maintaining our place in League B.

Matchday 1 v Slovenia

There’s nothing but disappointment to be taken from this game as we blow a two goal lead away from home.

Stephen Coyle opened the scoring early on, it was a well picked run to free himself in the 6 yard box to connect with Matty Kennedy’s superb corner. Sidenote – that’s Kennedy’s 11th assist in his last 15 games under my command.

Matchday 2 v Austria

Callum Simpson’s debut goal almost dragged us back into this one against Austria but it was ultimately decided by two Sabitzer Howitzers™. Whatever happened to Fortress Windsor?

Matchday 3 v Ukraine

Another lead surrendered and this time courtesy of one of those famous “two minute salvos”. This one particularly rankled with me as I really feel we had the edge on Ukraine before Sikan’s first knocked the wind out of us.

The silver lining was a lovely goal from Stephen Coyle. Dan Finlayson wins the ball back in our own half before launching it in Coyle’s direction. The future record holder collects it neatly before a well taken left footed finish to give us the lead.

Matchday 4 v Austria

For the third time in this group so far we surrendered another lead! Austria equalised just before the half time whistle and took the lead moments after the restart. Coyle’s second goal was too little too late for any real fightback. The penalty demons had also returned as Coyle missed the target from an 18th minute spot kick.

Once more, it was all about Jamal Lewis as the wing back’s run and pass laid Coyle’s opener on a plate for him.

Coyle’s second was another for the ‘Suspect Goalkeeping’ scrapbook as the Austrian stopper failed to keep a hold of his poorly directed header.

Matchday 5 v Slovenia

The November round of fixtures provided pure vindication for the squad in the results but nothing in the way of our goals challenge. Coyle missed both fixtures through injury.

Friday the 13th held no horrors for us as we reversed the tide to actually come back from a goal down to secure the 3 points.

Matchday 6 v Ukraine

The home double header was completed with a resounding victory over Ukraine. Shoutout to Stephen Robinson who scored his fourth goal in two games to take him up to 9 international goals – one behind Choy Yiu Fai.

UEFA Nations League B Group 2

Those two late wins in the group were enough to stave off relegation this time around but we definitely need to find a way to improve after conceding 11 goals in those 6 game – perhaps a tactical switch is required?

Choy and Coyle

Choy Yiu Fai’s January move to FC Porto hasn’t seen him light up the Iberian Peninsula as he featured just once for them last season before making a summer loan move to Maccabi Tel Aviv where he has scored twice in just three league appearances in the early part of the 2026/27 season.

Stephen Coyle, sadly, remains with Glentoran. He’s not quite living up to the heights of his form under my tutelage with just 9 goals in 20 appearances in all competitions. Currently (November) there is no transfer interest in him but hopefully that changes come January as he really needs a move away to push on!

Here’s how things stand in our own focus:

David Healy: 95 caps / 36 goals

Stephen Coyle: 31 caps / 26 goals

Choy Yiu Fai: 22 caps / 10 goals

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