- Memories of the opening match of the 1982 World Cup and Gerry Armstrong coming flooding back, as David Healy scored a sensational hat-trick as the Green and White army downed Spain 3-2 at Windsor Park in their Euro 2008 qualifier at Windsor Park. Again, I thought that N.I were the better team and deserved their victory.
It wasn't the opening
match. It was the final group match and a must win for NI. I watched it in a hotel ballroom in Santo Domingo (the same hotel that featured in Godfather III as a Havana hotel) and was later interviewed on Dominican TV as the only Nor'ironer available in a crowd of Spaniards. The next day I got on a plane for Belfast. In the second group stage we drew with Austria, but France then eliminated us.
A great achievement, but not as great as the double win over the Czechs in Sweden in '58. In the group stage the Czechs lost to NI 1-0, then beat Argentina 6-1, forcing a play-off match for second place in the group. NI beat them again, this time 2-1 after extra time. To qualify out of a group of Argentina-West Germany-Czechoslovakia-Northern Ireland was pretty good.