M O’Neill takes charge

There’s an M O’Neill in charge at Windsor Avenue, but it’s not the M which many Northern Ireland fans would prefer to see at the helm. And yet there should be an abundance of goodwill on offer for the affable former Shamrock Rovers manager, Michael O’Neill, who won 33 caps for Northern Ireland during his playing career and managed to deliver the historic Europa League breakthrough for Irish domestic soccer this season with his Shamrock Rovers club.

2011 was not a productive season for the Northern Irish international side, with only one victory and a Euro 2012 campaign which petered out with losses to an Estonian side that ultimately was shown the door by the Republic of Ireland in a play-off encounter which secured the latter’s place in Poland and Ukraine next June.

O’Neill has been dealt a difficult hand with a World Cup qualifying group including Portugal, Russia and Israel, something he clearly had in mind when appearing to set a realistic bar on expectations with these comments:

my job is to work with the players to sustain a competitive performance throughout the qualifying phase of the 2014 World Cup Finals

Time will tell if O’Neill can return the international side to its glory days of the 1980s, when the side made back to back trips to the World Cups in Spain and Mexico.




  • Ruarai

    That’s 2 Ballymena men in a row.

  • Cynic2


    Windsor Avenue’ ??????

    Wrong side of the Lisburn Road old chap. Windsor Avenue is the posh bit.

    Thank God you don’t teach Geography

  • michael-mcivor

    M O’Neill- lucky he was not called P ONeill-

  • Brian

    Are you a Cubs fan, Chris?

  • Chris Donnelly

    Follow the link and I believe you’ll discover that the Irish Football Association HQ is, indeed, in Windsor Avenue:

    Isn’t it as well I’m the one teaching geography (though, strictly speaking, it has regrettably been subsumed within the World Around Us curricular area in the revised curriculum at primary level.)

    Lifeling Cubbie, my man, hoping/ praying for the end of the curse this year, though that may require the Prince’s arrival and much more. Here’s hoping Theo can work his magic!

  • Rauri.. I believe I read that Michael O’Neill is from Portadown rather than Ballymena. Good luck to him with that World Cup qualifying group.

  • Ruarai

    madraj55 – nah, mate: we both went to the same primary in Ballymena.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Good luck to Michael O’Neill. He did a brilliant job at Shamrock Rovers and proved himself an astute manager.

    Whether he can carry that on in international level is hard to know. But he is a proud Ulsterman so I’m sure he’ll instil real pride and passion in the players.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Good luck to the new man. I worry he hasn’t got the international / top level football management experience we need, but then Sanchez did a great job from a similar starting position. Fingers crossed!