OPINION: Lafferty’s the hero but Davis is the real master

Steve Davis tucks away his first half penalty, just reward for his starring role against San Marino. 
Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye
Steve Davis tucks away his first half penalty, just reward for his starring role against San Marino. Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye

Kyle Lafferty was reinstated to his rightful place last night - Northern Ireland’s goal-scoring hero.

He didn’t even have to start to do it. In fact, the very fact he managed it was because he didn’t start the match.

Kyle Lafferty was utilised off the bench - and to great effect. 
Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye

Kyle Lafferty was utilised off the bench - and to great effect. Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye

The Norwich forward’s late two-goal cameo only proved Michael O’Neill right in leaving him out of the starting XI.

With first team minutes few and far between in club football, there’s no doubt Lafferty’s fitness doesn’t allow him to give an acceptable 90 minute performance.

Even starting and trying to stretch his energy over 60 minutes looked a struggle in the Czech Republic.

But when he only had to play 22 minutes on Saturday evening, well he showed just what an asset he is.

His first goal proved the telling touch that Northern Ireland had been so badly lacking for the first 78 minutes.

However, that shouldn’t take away from the true star of the show.

Captain Steven Davis should go down in history as one of the greatest this country has ever produced. While it seems a little over the top to reel off hyperbole after a win over lowly San Marino, Davis’ performance was a true master-class.

The piece of skill to tee up the fourth goal right on the final whistle was something magnificent.

Had that been for Manchester United or Liverpool, we’d be seeing it repeated again and again on our screens over the next few days.

His one-two with Conor Washington took out most of the team then with four perfect touches, he bamboozled two defenders and the goalkeeper.

The pass that finished it gets better each time you watch it back.

What a pleasure he is to watch.

But at 31, he won’t go on forever.

Let’s make sure we enjoy him over these next few years.

A national gem!