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McGinn: Swapping Dons for Dens has boosted Northern Ireland career

The veteran winger says he's been given a new lease of life.

Swapping Aberdeen for Dundee has boosted Northern Ireland career – Niall McGinn SNS Group

Niall McGinn has revealed his desire to extend his Northern Ireland career was a key reason behind his decision to swap Aberdeen for Dundee in January.

The 34-year-old had grown frustrated after struggling for playing time towards the end of his second stint at Pittodrie, and feared it could have cost him his international place.

“I’ve always loved coming away and that was a big part in my decision to leave Aberdeen to go to Dundee,” McGinn said.

“I wanted to stay in the Northern Ireland set-up. I’ve been involved for a long time and I’m always happy to come away, be it to start games or come off the bench.”

McGinn signed an 18-month deal at Dens Park when he made the move on January 24, and has quickly established himself in the side despite a subsequent change of manager, scoring his first goal in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Peterhead on February 14 and registering five assists to date as he enjoys a new lease of life.

“I was just in a rut probably and I just wanted to get out and play football,” he added of the decision to move.

“I want to play for as long as I possibly can and that’s what I’ll try to do. If that meant moving away from Aberdeen then I knew it’s something I’d have to do.

“I’m delighted I got it all sorted and I’ve an extra year on my contact for next year and I’m still involved in the Northern Ireland set-up so I couldn’t be happier.”

McGinn came off the bench to earn his 69th cap in Friday’s 3-1 friendly win away to Luxembourg, helping to set up the 83rd minute goal from fellow substitute Steven Davis which put Northern Ireland back in front.

“I’ll always be ready for whatever the manager needs me to do,” he added. “Even on Friday, I came on for 11 minutes but I was just happy to get on and try to contribute with the cross for the second goal.

“I know I just have to contribute any way I can.”

Tuesday’s friendly at home to Hungary will bring back some happy memories for McGinn – he made his debut against the nation in 2008 and played a key role when Northern Ireland came from behind to win 2-1 in Budapest in September 2014, a victory that set them on the road to Euro 2016.

McGinn got the 81st-minute equaliser as Northern Ireland quickly cancelled out Tamas Priskin’s late header, and the winger then set up Kyle Lafferty to get the winner.

“Looking back to then it was the start of an unbelievable journey for us,” McGinn said.

“Going 1-0 down in Budapest I came on as a sub and then we conceded and you think, ‘Here we go, another qualifying defeat away from home’ and then the game turned on its head when I scored and then set up big Laffs for the winner…

“Looking back, you never think you’re going to win the group but that’s what we were able to do and obviously results like that win in Hungary are going to help.

“To be a part of that Euros campaign it made us hungry for more of those memories and you want to be involved in it for as long as possible.

“We have to keep enjoying the friendlies and the Nations League and hopefully we’ll be able to qualify for another major tournament.”