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McGinn lives his Hoops dream with first goal for Celtic

Niall McGinn was in paradise as he celebrated his first Celtic goal in the 3-0 win over Kilmarnock on Saturday.

His 78th-minute strike secured three points for Celtic and was a telling milestone for the winger from Donaghmore who was voted the PFAI Young Player of the Year for 2008.

McGinn had replaced Paddy McCourt halfway through the second half and could hardly contain his delight when his shot from 15 yards out hit the back of the net.

He explained: "Scoring my first goal was an amazing feeling, you have to get into the right positions and the goals will come.

"I'd thought about my celebrations, I had a few planned but just ran over to the crowd and kissed the badge.

"I grew up supporting Celtic. When I came back to the halfway line I put my hand up to my mother and father who were in the Players' Lounge watching me.

"I'll never forget the first time I watched a match at Celtic Park, I was sitting behind the goal when Alan Thompson scored an 89th-minute winner against Rangers.

"I was going mad after that goal so it was special to score my first Celtic goal at the same end then share the celebrations with the supporters.

"When I got back to the changing room after the match there was a lot of messages and missed calls on my phone, the support that I'm getting from back home is unbelievable. There is a big following from my area for Celtic and everyone seems interested in how I'm getting on.

"A lot of people give up time to travel over from Ireland to watch Celtic. It was my dream as a boy to play here and I loved coming over for games.

"I know what it's like to be a supporter, to be playing for Celtic is very special and I like to give something back to the people that are travelling over from Ireland."

Aiden McGeady set the tempo for the afternoon by putting Celtic in front in the 13th minute with a great shot whipped across Cammy Bell the Kimarnock keeper from a tight angle.

Georgios Samaras doubled the lead in the 32nd minute to set Celtic on their way to their first home win since September 20.

It was a welcome win for Tony Mowbray with Celtic finishing the weekend with a four-point lead over Rangers after the half-time abandonment of their game against Dundee United due to the pitch being waterlogged.

Mowbray now has to fashion a win for his side in Hamburg on Thursday if they are to retain an interest in the Europa League.

Hamburg beat Celtic 1-0 in Glasgow last month but lost 3-2 at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday despite twice taking the lead.

McGinn is likely to be back on the bench for the visit to Germany but is hopeful that an injury to Shaun Maloney could give him the chance to put together a run of first team appearances.

The former Derry winger added: "With Shaun being out, hopefully Paddy (McCourt) and myself can get a few more opportunities."