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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 22:45 GMT
McIlroy's misery goes on
Northern Ireland skipper Steve Lomas hit the post in the first half of the Windsor Park friendly
Steve Lomas came close to scoring against Finland
Sammy McIlroy could not hide his disappointment after seeing his Northern Ireland side play their sixth successive game without a goal.

As Sami Hyypia grabbed the only goal of the Windsor Park friendly for Finland, McIlroy was left to reflect on nothing more than missed chances.

"I am absolutely gutted for everyone. The boys gave me 110 per cent again but it just is not happening in front of goal," said McIlroy.

"I was encouraged by the performance but at the end of the day you have to score goals.

Sammy McIlroy saw his Northern Ireland team lose 1-0 to Finland
Sammy McIlroy's side drew a blank yet again

"We have done everything but put the ball in the net, then they break away and get one.

"The fans deserve more, they gave us great support.

"Our passion was right to the end, we never gave up.

"We just need that goal to get us going," added McIlroy who has enjoyed victory just twice in his 12 home games as international manager.

Keith Gillespie also took heart from the Northern Ireland display.

"We have not created so many chances for a long time but the ball is not running for us at the minute," said the Blackburn Rovers winger.

"We conceded a sloppy goal but deserved a draw out of the game.

"The boys are gutted but I am encouraged by the chances we created.

'Special moment'

"Hopefully it will happen for us in the European Championship qualifiers. This game was all about preparing for Armenia and Greece."

Liverpool captain Hyypia - winning his 50th cap - was delighted to get on the scoresheet.

"It was a special moment for me to score. I do not get that many goals," said Hyypia.

"I have now got three in my international career - two of them against Northern Ireland."

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"We have got to start scoring goals"
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