Carrick mascots witness Northern Ireland triumph

Laura Clugston, who attends Northern Ireland games with her dad, enjoyed stepping into the spotlight as a mascot. INLT 19-330-PR
Laura Clugston, who attends Northern Ireland games with her dad, enjoyed stepping into the spotlight as a mascot. INLT 19-330-PR

A historic night in October will remain indelibly stamped in the minds of two young football enthusiasts from Carrickfergus.

Nina Morrison, a pupil at Central Primary School and Laura Clugston, who attends Greenisland Primary School, were mascots when Northern Ireland secured qualification to the European Championship finals for the first time.

Nina Morrison with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern. INCT 42-708-CON

Nina Morrison with Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern. INCT 42-708-CON

Michael O’Neill’s team overcame Greece 3-1 at Windsor Park to send fans into raptures.

Before the game started, Laura walked out on to the pitch with the Greek midfielder Andreas Samaris.

She also got to talk to all the substitutes including Northern Ireland goalkeeper, Roy Caroll, who was “especially friendly to all the mascots”.

After being on the field of play, the mascots went back to their family and their seats in the North Stand.

As a further memento of the occasion, Laura was given the Northern Ireland kit and allowed to keep the ‘NO TO RACISM’ T-shirt, which mascots wore to highlight the message.

Laura described the whole event as “really exciting and a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

She added: “The noise was really loud and a lot of singing.”

Laura and her dad are regular supporters of Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

And it was a similarly thrilling occasion for Nina who accompanied home goalkeeper Michael McGovern on to the famous turf.

Nina said: “It was really good fun. I also found it quite scary as there was a lot of noise. I felt really nervous when I was walking on to the pitch.

“When the national anthem started playing I felt really proud to be there. I’m so glad that I was mascot at that match as they qualified for the European Championships.

“My favourite bit was walking out at the start with the players. I was with the goalie Michael McGovern.”