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Michael O’Neill and Northern Ireland keep grip on prestigious Belfast Telegraph accolades

By Gareth Hanna

Michael O’Neill is staying put — not only as the Northern Ireland manager but as our Manager/Coach of the Year, sponsored by Invest n Share, too.

The international boss retained the crown at last night’s Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, where his Northern Ireland side also kept hold of their Team of the Year, sponsored by The Home Design Group, status.

The two awards were won last year after O’Neill and Northern Ireland reached the last 16 of the Euro 2016 finals.

And despite a now infamous Switzerland penalty ending their chances of landing a spot at this summer’s World Cup, a thrilling 2017 campaign was enough for O’Neill and the team to keep hold of their respective Belfast Telegraph trophies.

Northern Ireland began 2017 with four successive World Cup qualifying wins, including a thrilling 1-0 win in Azerbaijan after a last-gasp Stuart Dallas strike, to secure second spot in their qualifying group.

O’Neill and his team were the winners of the platinum awards in their categories, presented to professional sportspeople.

The gold awards, for non-professionals, provided another delightful double.

This one went to the Northern Ireland netball team, who qualified for the Commonwealth Games, and their coach Elaine Rice. To add to that achievement, Northern Ireland rubber-stamped their qualification for the World Cup this month.

Elaine is the country’s most successful coach and is enjoying her second spell in charge.

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