Jim McIntyre hails the scoring input of Liam Boyce

Liam Boyce has scored 17 goals this season, three of which came against Dundee on Saturday. Picture: SNS

Liam Boyce has scored 17 goals this season, three of which came against Dundee on Saturday. Picture: SNS

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It could be billed as a battle of the Northern Ireland internationals, with strikers Liam Boyce and Josh Magennis in inspirational form.

But Ross County manager Jim McIntyre knows his 17-goal striker would be the first to share the credit for a rich goal return with team-mates around him.

Boyce turned in a powerful hat-trick performance to shoot down Dundee on Saturday, strengthening his status as one of the Scottish Premiership’s best finishers.

Magennis, a national team-mate of Boyce’s vying for precious places at France 2016, has hit fewer goals for Killie – eight so far – but proven a similarly pivotal figure.

Ex-Rangers player Kyle 
Lafferty remains Northern 
Ireland’s first-choice forward, but Boyce and Magennis are on a mission to impress national coach Michael O’Neill.

McIntyre, seeking to build consistent winning form on the back of the Dundee victory, will certainly be happy if Boyce keeps pressing his case.

Reflecting on Boyce’s handsome half-season tally of 17 goals, McIntyre said: “It’s very impressive. Liam will be the first to say his team-mates have played a big part in that.

“But the thing about Liam is that the hardest part – putting the ball in the back of the net – is the part he finds the easiest.

“We’re still working on other aspects of his game such as holding the ball up and releasing it early.

“But he’s got natural talent, a natural eye for goal and he is doing fantastically well for us this season.

“The fourth goal on Saturday was exceptional – a great team move and fantastic run and play from Richard Foster.

“Most importantly, Fozzy had the composure to pick the pass out once he got into that area. He had a wee glance to see where Liam was and put a great ball across for him.

“When a striker is feeling confident, he just doesn’t think about it. That type of finishing takes real confidence.”

Magennis, it emerged, made a big noise in the Killie dressing room after the previous week’s 4-0 battering by Aberdeen, warning that livelihoods were at stake.

The response was a narrow but timely win away to Hamilton and McIntyre is keen to keep the frontman subdued at the Global Energy Stadium.

He said: “Josh Magennis is a threat. He has been a big player for Kilmarnock this year, 
scoring some important goals. He’s a real handful and somebody we need to keep quiet.”

McIntyre’s habitual re-run of Saturday’s action made for pleasant viewing this week and, unsurprisingly, he is seeking more of the same.

Two defensive lapses aside, there was an abundance of energy and invention, as well as keen finishing, on display as Dundee were torn apart.

The County manager stressed: “It was great to convert a high number of the chances we created. Having said that, we could have scored a couple more. To score five goals at home in any game, especially considering we lost the early goal, is good.

“Their response was fantastic. The boys showed fantastic resilience and quality and some of the goals we scored were a joy to watch.

“The aim now is to build a wee bit of consistency with back-to-back results, something we’ve struggled for in the last couple of months.

“We’ve got a chance to do that against Killie, who had a great result themselves away to Hamilton. There are only 
seven points between tenth place and ourselves in fifth. It’s a crucial period where we 
have to try to maximise our points.

“They are another team who are quite unpredictable and that just sums up the league this season.

“It’s very strange in terms of lacking any real set pattern. A lot of teams have struggled 
for that consistency and 
level of performance week-in 
week-out.

“But Kilmarnock aren’t detached at the bottom of the league. Two wins and they are in the top six.”

McIntyre has a full squad to choose from.

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