Euro 2016 beats everything, says NI's Chris Baird
|Host: France Dates: 10 June to 10 July|
|Coverage: Live commentary on BBC TV, BBC Radio, the BBC Sport website and app. Live text commentary on every game on BBC Sport website.|
Northern Ireland had their first Euro 2016 training session in France on Monday with veteran player Chris Baird saying: "It really has sunk in now."
Having made the European finals for the first time, NI are preparing to play Poland in Nice on Sunday.
"I have had some tough years playing for the national team for a long time," said 34-year-old midfielder Baird, who has 78 international caps.
"I have enjoyed every minute of it, but this beats everything."
Baird made his NI debut in 2003 under Sammy McIlroy when the team was on a long run without a goal.
Derby County's Baird, who had a brief loan spell with his old club Fulham last season, added: "It is fantastic and we really just want to get on with it now."
Boss Michael O'Neill said the build-up could not have gone any better, having had the unprecedented benefit of three weeks working with his squad.
The players trained on a warm morning in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins, in a temperature of 24 degrees Celsius.
Early arrivals in France
Northern Ireland were one of the first squads to touch down in France, landing in Lyon on Sunday afternoon and being met by local dignitaries before police escorted the squad bus to their secluded hotel.
The next morning they travelled to their training ground, Parc de Montchervet, a tidy, compact sports and cultural centre.
A superb playing surface has been prepared and manager O'Neill was impressed with the way the venue had been transformed since they selected it as their base.
"It couldn't be better and the hotel is excellent too. The players think it is brilliant," he said.
|Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 Group C games|
|Fixture||Venue||Date & time||BBC coverage|
|Live text commentary on every game on BBC Sport website|
|v Poland||Nice||12 June, 17:00 BST||BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live|
|v Ukraine||Lyon||16 June, 17:00||ITV, BBC Radio 5 live|
|v Germany||Paris||21 June, 17:00||BBC TV, BBC Radio 5 live|
Northern Ireland will have four more training sessions in Saint-Georges-de-Reneins this week, with two young Irish League prospects having the privilege of being part of the action.
Paul Smyth of Linfield and Glenavon's Joel Cooper are being brought in to make up the numbers for some training work.
On Saturday the squad will have a work-out at the 35,000-capacity Stade de Nice with their opening match on Sunday.