10 June 2024

Talking points as Northern Ireland complete friendly run with Andorra clash

10 June 2024

Northern Ireland will be back in action for their last of four consecutive friendlies when they face Andorra in Murcia on Tuesday night.

Here the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the fixture.

Flipping the script

Saturday’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Spain brought Northern Ireland back down to earth after their run of two wins and a draw from fixtures against Denmark, Romania and Scotland. As was to be expected – at least once they had recovered from the shock of Daniel Ballard’s early goal – Spain dominated the ball and created a string of opportunities, just the sort of test Michael O’Neill had wanted for his young side. But against Andorra, the reverse will be expected – Northern Ireland are strong favourites and will have the opportunity to boss a game themselves.

Keeping heads up

O’Neill said the dressing room was “quiet” after Saturday’s heavy defeat in Palma, but the mood among the players was far from despondent. They had known they would be up against it in Mallorca and so there was no need for despair once it came to pass. That would change should Northern Ireland fail to execute against Andorra, but there is every reason to expect they can finish this camp on a positive note before turning attention to the Nations League.


Caolan Boyd-Munce made his debut from the start in Palma and got off to a dream start – he got the assist for Ballard’s goal with his very first touch as he floated in a free-kick from deep. There will be others in O’Neill’s squad hoping for their chance against lesser opposition. Aaron Donnelly, who was celebrating his 21st birthday in Mallorca, is now the only uncapped outfield player in the current squad. Ethan Galbraith, back in the fold after an impressive first season with Leyton Orient, is looking for a first international appearance since November 2020.


Set-pieces were for so long Northern Ireland’s great strength, but Ballard’s early goal against Spain was their first set-piece goal since June 2022 – incidentally another Ballard goal, that time from a Jordan Thompson free-kick. It is a weapon they would dearly love to get back, and something they have been working on. They may get some more opportunities to show the fruits of that labour in Murcia.

Facing minnows again

Having enjoyed two wins over San Marino during last year’s Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, Northern Ireland will be facing one of world football’s minnows again on Tuesday. With a total population of just 80,327, Andorra is the fifth-smallest nation to compete in UEFA competitions, and they are ranked 164th in the world, 91 places below O’Neill’s side. They are without a win in their last 15 internationals, drawing three and losing the other 12 since a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein in September 2022.

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