Michael O’Neill confident suspensions will not hurt Northern Ireland

first_imgMichael O’Neill is confident Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 dream will not be derailed by suspensions next month. Lafferty and McLaughlin both picked up their second bookings of the campaign on Monday night, while Baird was sent off in a curious incident that saw him earn two cautions in the same passage of play. The Irish Football Association subsequently said it had sought clarification over Baird’s dismissal and had been informed by the International Football Association Board that the decision was “the correct one”. The limited player pool available to Northern Ireland means they can sometimes struggle to paper over such cracks, but O’Neill believes he has able deputies in all three positions. “You have to be able to deal with suspensions, that’s the nature of international football,” he said. “We have options. Kyle being out is a blow, of course it is, but someone else will step up. “We’ve seen little glimpses of what Josh Magennis can offer up front: he’s a physical presence, he’s powerful and I don’t think people fully appreciate what he gives to this squad. “With Conor, we have Aaron Hughes who has played right-back, Paddy McNair can play there too and he is also an option in the middle of the pitch where Bairdy plays. “Hopefully we’ll be stronger in other areas come October too, Jamie Ward will hopefully be back from injury and Jonny Evans will have more minutes under his belt by then. Press Association A first major tournament in 30 years remains on the cards for O’Neill over-performing fifth seeds, after Kyle Lafferty’s injury-time equaliser against Hungary kept them top of Group F with two to play. A home win against Greece at Windsor Park in October would seal the deal regardless of other results, but that would have to be achieved without seven-goal top-scorer Lafferty, right-back Conor McLaughlin and holding midfielder Chris Baird. “Overall there’s a lot to be positive about.” Kilmarnock forward Magennis undoubtedly has the biggest boots to fill. Lafferty has been a revelation in qualifying, with only Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Germany’s Thomas Muller bettering his goals tally – not bad company for a player who was surplus to requirements at Norwich last season and has yet to play domestically due to injury this term. Magennis has played 14 times for his country, but has started just once and has yet to open his account. Now he is hoping to guarantee a starting spot by hitting form with his club in the coming weeks. “I might be the front-runner to replace Kyle but we have Billy McKay and Will Grigg too,” he told Press Association Sport. “We all have four weeks of domestic football now and it’s up to us to do what we can to show we’re ready for Greece. “I started off playing the last five or maybe 10 minutes for Northern Ireland, but recently it’s been 15 or 20 and that is a progression for me. “If Michael chooses to give me 90 in the next game I know I’ve got it in me to get that goal. “It’s up to me to do as much as I can to make sure I’m feeling right and in my absolute best shape.” Goalkeeper Michael McGovern, whose dreadful handling error gave Hungary a 1-0 lead, fronted up to his mistake and thanked Lafferty for sparing his blushes. “It was relief all round, not just for me but for everyone,” he said. “I’m not a bad goalkeeper because I made a mistake; I’m just a goalkeeper who made a mistake. “If we hadn’t scored I would have been the villain but we got the goal and that’s all that matters. “It’s never over until it’s over and big Kyle came up trumps again.” last_img read more

North Carolina senior attack Luke Goldstock poses deadly threat to No. 1 Syracuse

first_img Published on April 26, 2017 at 9:44 pm Contact Matthew: mguti100@syr.edu | @MatthewGut21 In 2016, Syracuse’s season ended when Maryland’s Matt Rambo torched the Orange for six points. This year, nobody had picked apart the Syracuse defense the way Rambo did — until Luke Goldstock exploded for three goals and three assists two weeks ago. Goldstock, a versatile senior attack in his third year as a starter for North Carolina, led UNC to a near-upset of the top-ranked Orange on April 15.When North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi described his offense, he focuses on Goldstock. His size and strength, ability to use both hands and off-ball skills mixed with an evolving dodging game helps break down and baffle defenses.The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder has scored 11 goals and added seven assists in five career starts against Syracuse. Goldstock is a versatile playmaker — he can camp behind the cage, set up from outside and get out in transition, posing as one of the most potent threats Syracuse has seen in 2017. The No. 4 seed Tar Heels (6-7, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) need a win to get to .500 and enter the NCAA tournament discussion, and Goldstock could bring them a step closer to doing that. He will present a challenge to the No. 1 seed Orange in the ACC semifinal Friday at 6 p.m. in Durham, North Carolina.“He can see things develop before they happen,” Breschi said. “He’s at the center of our schemes.”Syracuse coaches and players say Goldstock’s greatest strength is his lacrosse IQ. He spaces the field such that he puts teammates in dodging spots and shooters in shooting lanes. SU head coach John Desko said he’s “very smart.” Goldstock easily backs out of space and shoots from distance, too.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textRegardless, he can score in a variety of ways. His three goals against SU two weeks ago, for example, were nothing alike. His first, also UNC’s first of the game, came on a man-up after back-to-back skip passes. Planted to the right of the goal, Goldstock caught a pass, made a quick move and scored.In the images below, Goldstock camps out to the right of Evan Molloy in goal. He’s left alone for a score two passes later. Courtesy ESPNTwo of Goldstock’s assists came from the behind the cage, where he looks for cutters to the crease on a regular basis. Syracuse’s best defender, Scott Firman, matched up on him early in the game. SU threw a variety of looks on him, including brief matchups with Tyson Bomberry, Cunningham and zone looks. It limited Goldstock’s dodging capabilities, but not those without the ball.“We’d slide and it’d be tough for us to get to the second guy,” Bomberry said. “He’d be wide open.”This season, the Tar Heels have pushed transition more than they have in recent years, SU senior midfielder Nick Mariano said. That’s benefited Goldstock, who can get up and down the field and beat midfielders to spots. When he catches the ball, he doesn’t veer away from contact.“He’s an excellent finisher,” Mariano said.Firman said UNC forced Syracuse to rotate to get favorable matchups. Goldstock’s offensive production didn’t come in the form of dodging. Rather, a lot of what he did came off rapid ball movement and inverts. SU changed its slide package in the second half against UNC, which helped turn a 9-1 Tar Heels run into a 7-1 Syracuse run.North Carolina has dropped four straight to Syracuse since the 2015 ACC tournament. Syracuse, riding a nine-game winning streak, has not lost since Feb. 25 and will look for its third consecutive ACC title. If there’s one guy who could help the Tar Heels shift the tides, it’s Goldstock. Comments Courtesy ESPN His second goal came on a one-on-one fake from behind the cage. He faked a pass right, using the cage to create separation between him and SU defender Marcus Cunningham. He darted left and beat SU goalie Evan Molloy for his second score of the day.“It’s very difficult because if you pay too much attention to him off ball, you leave a hole inside,” Desko said. “If you don’t slide to help out, somebody else can come in and swirl by the goaltender.”His third goal came in transition, off a feed from North Carolina close defender Austin Pifani. Running down the left side, Goldstock caught Pifani’s pass, ran straight to the goal and scored from outside of the crease. Cunningham gambled on the pass and paid the price.Below, Goldstock operates from behind the crease, tying up Cunningham and making a move to the goal. Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more