O'Neill 'honoured ' to be on Northern Ireland shortlist

Michael O’Neill has declared that he would be “honoured” to fill the vacant position of Northern Ireland coach after his spell as Shamrock Rovers manager came to an end tonight.

Michael O’Neill has declared that he would be “honoured” to fill the vacant position of Northern Ireland coach after his spell as Shamrock Rovers manager came to an end tonight.

O’Neill’s stock has risen considerably since he moved to Rovers three years ago from Scottish side Brechin City.

The 42-year-old, who was capped 33 times by Northern Ireland, has won back-to-back league titles and also made Rovers the first League of Ireland club to qualify for the group stages of a European competition after an heroic Europa League play-off win over Partizan Belgrade.

O’Neill has been shortlisted for the Northern Ireland position, which is available after Nigel Worthington resigned in October, along with his assistant Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie.

The former Newcastle midfielder is expected to have an interview for the position on Monday and he admitted he would be honoured to fill the position.

“It would be an honour to get that job and manage your country,” O’Neill said.

“The vacancy is there for the job. I have been shortlisted for it.

“I will do the interview for it and we will see. I am no different from any other person who has played for the country.”

Dowie has the edge over the Rovers boss in terms of experience, but O'Neill's exploits at Tallaght Stadium have made him the bookmakers' favourite, and he thinks he has the right qualities to fill the post.

He said: “The club had won one trophy in 20-odd years before I came here and we have won three in three years and the club has a lot more money in the bank than when I arrived. We have achieved an awful lot.

“Hopefully people will look at the spell I have had here and the spell I had at Brechin City, and they will see the progress both clubs have made and they will see that I’m a viable candidate.”

That said, O’Neill, who was also interested in the Hibernian job before it was filled by Pat Fenlon, would not be devastated if he does not land the position and is confident of achieving more success wherever he goes.

“It’s not something that is going to make or break me as a manager,” he said.

“I would consider my options anywhere in the world. Everyone has the idea that I am desperate to get a job in England or Scotland, but football is a global game so there are opportunities to work all over the world now.

“There is no immediate short-term career plan for me. We will see what happens in the next few weeks and will take it from there.”

Magilton has been working alongside O'Neill since Tom Croly left the Hoops in June.

O’Neill is a long-time friend of the former Ipswich manager and would be willing to make him a part of his coaching staff at national level if he gets the job.

“Jim and I have known each other all our lives, so there are no issues there,” O’Neill added.

The Rovers ruled out the possibility of both he and Magilton taking the job on an equal basis, however.

“I don’t think it would work like that to be honest,” O’Neill said.

“It’s not the right way to go about it. Jim has been interviewed for the job. I will be interviewed for the job. The IFA (Irish Football Association) may give it to someone else. That’s the reality of the situation.”

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