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Football: Mac's happy with goal-shy battlers; Italy 2 N Ireland 0.

SAMMY McILROY told his battling youngsters to "hold their heads up high" after forcing Italy to scrap for a victory.

Roma striker Marco Delvecchio wrapped up the win in the 67th minute, adding to Bernardo Corradi's first-half opener.

But Northern Ireland boss McIlroy said he was satisfied with his side's display despite failing to break a goal-drought that has lasted 882 minutes.

McIlroy said: "I'm proud of my players. There were a lot of young players out there and I have told them they can walk out of here with their heads held high.

"They were superb against a world-class side. The only thing that bothers me is that the goal situation will dominate everything, but I'm taking a lot of postitives from the match."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 4, 2003
Words:125
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