19 August 2007

Jimmy O'Neill

Name: James O’Neill
Born: 24 November 1941, Larne
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 11.09 st
Position: Centre-Forward

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 1 Full Cap (1962), 1 Under-23 Cap (1962), 3 Schoolboy Caps (1956-1957).
Club Honours: (with Coleraine) City Cup Winner 1968/69; Ulster Cup Winner 1968/69.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
FL Cup
Europe
Other
Mayharaming Juniors
-
Youth
-
-
-
-
-
Sunderland
61/62
Nov-58
-
7(0)/ 6
-
-
-
-
Walsall
62/63-64/65
Dec-62
-
38(0)/13
1(0)/0
-
-
-
Hakoah
1965 - 1966
May-65
-
(Australian Victorian State League)
Darlington
67/68
Oct-67
-
20(3)/ 4
1(0)/0
-
-
-
Coleraine
-
Jun-68
-
-
-
-
-
-
Hakoah
1970
-
-
(Australian Victorian State League)
TOTALS
-
£-
65(3)/23
2(0)/0
-
-
-

Biography:Jimmy O’Neill made a sensational breakthrough at Sunderland in the second half of the 1961/62 season. On his debut, against Bristol Rovers in January 1962, he scored twice in a 6-1 win. He was then dropped for the next game. A month later he made a scoring return to the first eleven, but was again dropped for the next match. He was then given a five game run in the side that yielded three goals, but that proved to be it for his Roker Park career. The man who prevented O’Neill from having a sustained impact in the Sunderland number nine shirt? Brian Clough, whose return of 54 goals from 61 matches in the famous red-and-white-stripes perhaps excuses O’Neill’s under-utilisation.

Of course Northern Ireland couldn’t ignore a player of such striking ability and in February 1962 he led the line for the Under-23 team that drew 0-0 with Wales. Two months later he again faced Wales for his Full international debut, this time however he finished on the end of a 4-0 defeat. Also capped while a schoolboy at Larne Tech, O’Neill was raised in Magheramorne on the shores of Larne Lough. He was first sent to Sunderland in 1957, signing on his sixteenth birthday in November 1961. He left Roker Park, frustrated, in December 1962, signing with Walsall. Ironically, that very month, Clough suffered an injury that effectively ended his career – what might have been?

O’Neill had joined a Walsall side struggling in the relegation places in Division Two. He was generally employed by the Saddlers in an advanced “midfield” role, scoring seven times in twenty appearances in that first campaign. The most notable of those goals was the winner against a Chelsea side set for promotion and featuring England ‘keeper Peter Bonetti. Still, it was not enough, and Walsall dropped in to Division Three. Noted as a player of high quality, who on his day could light up any match, O’Neill’s impact on Division Three was limited by injury and illness to just eighteen appearances and six goals in two seasons.

In 1965 O’Neill moved to Australia, playing two seasons with Hakoah. He returned to England for a brief Football League swansong with Fourth Division Darlington. Later he had a brief but prolific spell with Coleraine before a second spell with Hakoah.

Northern Ireland Cap details:
11-04-1962 Wales... A L 0-4 BC

Summary: 1/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 1.

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