Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill set to receive a New Year honour

By Paul Ferguson

Michael O'Neill is tipped to cap a magical year for Northern Ireland football by being awarded a gong by the Queen in the New Year's Honours list. The international boss, who was named Manager of the Year at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Show in Belfast 12 months ago, is the bookies favourite to receive the accolade in recognition of Northern Ireland's historic journey at Euro 2016 last summer when the men in green reached the knock-out stages in France.

Veteran Gareth McAuley, goalscorer against Ukraine during the finals, new Northern Ireland centurion Aaron Hughes who finished 2016 with 103 caps, and skipper Steven Davis, are also in contention for an honour.

But according to a leading Northern Ireland bookmaker it is 47 year-old O'Neill who should be preparing for a day out at Buckingham Palace in 2017.

"You would have to be reasonably sure he will get something," admitted the bookie last night.

Wales boss Chris Coleman, currently in demand by managerless Swansea City and whose Gareth Bale-inspired side sent Northern Ireland crashing home from France at the last 16 stage, before going out to eventual winners Portugal in the semi-finals, is also in line for letters after his name.

The list, issued by the Cabinet Office, will be officially revealed this evening.

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