Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

A year to remember for Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

Published 26/01/2016

Kyle Lafferty scored seven goals in nine Euro games
Kyle Lafferty scored seven goals in nine Euro games
Main man: Michael O'Neill receives his Coach of the Year award from former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon and Belfast Telegraph Managing Director Richard McClean
Top team: Representatives from the Commonwealth games Youth team, Conor Ferguson, Danielle Hill, Ben Fisher and James McGivern collect their award from rugby legend Tommy Bowe and Muriel O'Grady, chair of the SUBWAY Ireland Marketing Board
Delighted: Paul Hearty is presented with his trophy by Belfast Giants ace Matt Nickerson, right, and Robert Cairns, the Volvo Parts Manager of category sponsor Volvo
Young gun: Conor Ferguson receives the Young Sports Star of the Year award from Dame Mary Peters and Arthur Scott of Sport NI having had an amazing 12 months in the pool
Football focus: Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill and assistant Jimmy Nicholl pick up the Team of the Year award on behalf of the international side from champion cyclist Martyn Irvine and Patrick Woods, Director of Linwoods
David Davis - father of Northern Ireland captain Steven - picks up the Player of the Year award on behalf of his son from Stephen Ferris and Rajesh Rana, Director of category sponsor Ramada Plaza

What a wonderful year 2015 was for Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland team. The records tumbled as they secured qualification for this summer's Euro 2016 finals in France. Here we take a look at some of the remarkable achievements.

1. After 13 attempts, Northern Ireland finally topped a European Championship qualifying group for the first time in their history.

2. Northern Ireland became the first fifth-seeded country in a European Championship qualifying campaign to ever win their respective group.

3. Gareth McAuley became his country's highest scoring defender, along with Gerry Taggart, after bagging a brace of goals in the 3-1 win in the Faroe Islands back in September.

4. Northern Ireland were the highest scoring country in their Euro 2016 qualifying group with a total of 16 goals, five more than their nearest rivals Romania and Hungary.

5. The sensational header by Josh Magennis against Greece when O'Neill's men qualified was the first time a Kilmarnock player had ever scored a senior goal for Northern Ireland.

6. For the first time ever in a calendar year, Northern Ireland managed to go eight consecutive International games without defeat.

7. Steven Davis joined the exalted company of Danny Blanchflower, Martin O'Neill and Sammy McIlroy in captaining his country to a major Championship.

8. Northern Ireland were unbeaten in five outings at Windsor Park during 2015 and for only the second time ever in 13 European Championship qualifying campaigns.

9. Michael O'Neill became only the third manager, alongside Peter Doherty and Billy Bingham, to guide his country to a major finals tournament.

Sports Star of the Year: Michael Conlan . Trophy presented by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Belfast Telegraph's editor Gail Walker, and Linwoods head of marketing Sarah Shimmons. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Sports Star of the Year: Michael Conlan . Trophy presented by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Belfast Telegraph's editor Gail Walker, and Linwoods head of marketing Sarah Shimmons. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Team of the Year winner: Northern Ireland football team. Manager Michael O'Neill and assistant coach Jimmy Nicholl collect the trophy on behalf of the team from champion cyclist Martyn Irvine and Patrick Woods, Director of Linwoods. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Belfast Telegraph Editor Gail Walker and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.
Martin O'Neill is inducted into the Hall of Fame and presented with his trophy by football legends Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong, Michael O'Neill, Neil Lennon and joined by Chris Nelmes, Centre Manager of category sponsor The OUTLET Banbridge. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Hall of Fame award: Martin O'Neill is inducted into the Hall of Fame and presented with his trophy by Chris Nelmes, Centre Manager of category sponsor The OUTLET Banbridge. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan gets a congratulatory kiss from his mum Theresa as he was named Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year at a glittering ceremony in Belfast’s Ramada Hotel last night
Manager of the Year winner: Michael O'Neill. Michael is presented with his award from Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon and Richard McClean, Managing Director, Belfast Telegraph. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
After his storming World Cup for Ireland, the George Best Breakthrough Award is given to Ulster Rugby's Iain Henderson. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Top team: Representatives from the Commonwealth games Youth team, Conor Ferguson, Danielle Hill, Ben Fisher and James McGivern collect their award from rugby legend Tommy Bowe and Muriel O'Grady, chair of the SUBWAY Ireland Marketing Board
Malcolm Brodie Player of the Year: Steven Davis (collected by father David) .Rugby Legend Stephen Ferris and Rajesh Rana, Director of category sponsor Ramada Plaza presents David Davis with Stephen's trophy. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Young Player of the Year Conor Ferguson is presented with his trophy by Dame Mary Peters and Arthur Scott, Sport NI Interim Chief Executive. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Sportsperson with a Disability winner: Michael McKillop is presented with his trophy by Paddy Barnes and Joanne McDowell, Director for Northern Ireland of category sponsor, Big Lottery Fund. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Michael McKillop with Jackie Fullerton. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Winners all: Telegraph Sports Star of the Year Michael Conlan, flanked by Coach of the Year Michael O’Neill and Hall of Fame entrant Martin O’Neill
Local Heroes award winner: Aisling Reilly is presented with her trophy by GAA Tyrone Manager Mickey Harte and Brian Henning, Chair of Sport Northern Ireland. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Special recognition award goes to Crossmaglen's Paul Hearty. Paul Hearty is presented with his trophy by Belfast Giant's Matt Nickerson and Robert Cairns, Volvo Parts Manager of category sponsor Volvo. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Special recognition award goes to Crossmaglen's Paul Hearty. Photo: Paul Hearty aand Claire McCollum. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Young Team of the Year goes to the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Youth squad. Conor Ferguson, Danielle Hill, Ben Fisher and James McGivern collect their award from rugby legend Tommy Bowe and Muriel O'Grady, chair of the SUBWAY Ireland Marketing Board and franchisee. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Erin Cassidy, Julia McCann, Ella Rourke, Eile Bradley, Cara Gordon and Michela McAvoy pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.
Peter Spratt with his daughter Lucy pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.
Ben Fisher and Angel Reyes pictured at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.
Eileen Logan and Debby Armstrong
Sarah Shimmons, Michael O'Neill and Paddy Barnes
Carol McMenamin, Joanne Hayden and Jane Rowe
Gail Walker and Neil Lennon
Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast.
Pat Jennings
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with boxer Michael Conlan pictured at the awards night. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th January 2016 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Steven Beacom pictured at the awards night.   Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th January 2016 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Guests at the awards night.   Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th January 2016 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Guests at the awards night.   Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th January 2016 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Stephen Baxter at the awards night.   Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th January 2016 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Linwoods 2015 at the Ramada Hotel, Belfast. Claire McCollum and Jackie Fullerton pictured at the awards night.   Picture by Kelvin Boyes/ Press Eye

10. Kyle Lafferty's seven goals in nine Group F games took his tally to 10 in European qualifiers, leaving him just three short of David Healy's record tally.

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph