News Letter front pageImage copyright News Letter

Many of Thursday’s papers are taking a look ahead at Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Switzerland later.

The Mirror’s front page is dominated by a particularly large picture of the team’s boss, Michael O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill says he will “give it everything” to deliver World Cup Success “for the GAWA”.

More than 18,000 supporters are set to generate a “wall of noise” at Belfast’s Windsor Park during the play-off crunch, the Mirror reports.

Image copyright Charles McQuillan
Image caption The Northern Ireland team are attempting to reach the finals for the first time since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico

O’Neill says he is hoping to replicate the excitement of the Euros.

“You see what it did here to the country, having 10 to 15,000 people at fanzones watching games,” he said.

“Those are things we haven’t seen here in Northern Ireland before.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Mr O’Neill wants to see the excitement of the Euros replicated

“Back in 1982 and ’86 we didn’t have things like fanzones, so it brought everyone together and was phenomenal support.

“We want to try to replicate that and the players have done fantastically well to get this far.

“We are the smallest nation going into the play-offs and we have everything to play for.”

That sentiment is echoed in the News Letter.

“Daring to Dream” is the headline across pages 2 and 3.

‘Scary place to be be’

The paper has spoken to a World Cup match winner and fans “from all walks of life” as part of the double-page spread previewing the match.

One such fan is Coronation Street actor Charlie Lawson, who told the paper the Swiss were “a nice wee people,” but they are “going to feel the force of the green and white army”.

“If you speak to any footballer who’s played here recently they will tell you it is a scary place to be, I wouldn’t say it was intimidating, it’s a very positive atmosphere, but the fans act as the twelfth man.”

The Belfast Telegraph leaves the sports’ build-up to its back pages, but picks up on a quirky story in the same theme on page 3.

Image copyright Eyewire
Image caption The cap is expected to fetch between £600 and £800

“Cap of NI hero ‘mighty Quinn’ goes under the hammer” is the headline.

It reports that a Northern Ireland international cap awarded to Jimmy Quinn, the striker best known for scoring the goal against Romania in 1985 which helped Northern Ireland qualify for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, is going to be auctioned off.

The cap is expected to fetch between £600 and £800.

Also in the Belfast Telegraph is the story of a former prison officer who says she was driven to “the edge of suicide” while working at Magilligan Prison.

The paper hides the woman’s identity, calling her Jane for the purposes of the report.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The mum-of-two sued the Prison Service for sex discrimination, bullying and harassment

Jane claims that after having her second child she could no longer work in the County Londonderry facility’s H-block accommodation units due to a lack of hygiene and the presence of cigarette smoke and other substances.

But, despite an agreement to adjust her duties so that she was not required to work in those areas as a breastfeeding mother, she says her co-workers objected to the new arrangements and she was eventually forced out of her job, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The mum-of-two sued the Prison Service for sex discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The case was settled out of court

This week she was awarded £55,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

A spokesperson for the Prison Service said it did not comment on individual cases.

The Irish News leads with the news of two road deaths on Wednesday.

One man, in his 30s, was killed in a lorry crash in Toomebridge, a second man was critically injured in the crash.

An 18-year-old was killed in a separate crash in Portadown, the paper reports.

DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley said the community were “stunned” by the teenager’s death.

Mr Buckley said: “I have known this family my entire life and I am devastated for them.

“They are so highly regarded in the community.”


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