All Saints welcomed back one of their most famous sons to Slemish Park this week. Current Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill paid a visit to our Slemish Road facilities and chatted with younger members of the club, reminiscing of his days as a player in the Na Naomh Uile jersey. He even tried to recreate one of his 40 yard points but had to settle for a close miss. Michael was back in his home town to record one of a series of BBC Radio documentaries on famous local personalities. During his stay the documentary team concentrated on his life growing up in Ballymena. During the visit Mickey fielded questions from the radio interviewer but was less prepared when U10 player Paddy Murphy took to the Mic. After several tough questions during which he joked with Paddy that his motivation for managing NI was “obviously for the money” he retired to the safer confines of Ballymena Golf Club to continue his trip down memory lane.
Before he departed club chairman, Hugh Killough, presented him with a framed picture of the club’s famous senior football team from 1987 that reached the Senior Championship 1/4 final of which he was a member. The 87 side recorded a famous victory in their first ever Senior Championship game, defeating the then mighty St. John’s in Portglenone and after drawing with Lamh Dearg at the same venue they went back to Hannastown and beat the Lamh’s in extra time in the replay. Michael O’Neill was superb in that win over the ‘Johnnies’ but by the time the Lamh Dearg replay came around he had returned to Coleraine to play in a European game against Dundee United and the rest is history. Michael also received 2 club tops, one for each of his daughters. Chairman Hugh Killough commented, “It was great to see a famous former Saint back on home turf”.