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Frank O'Farrell, Manchester United's only Irish manager, passes away aged 94

The Cork native’s playing career as a wing-half in England began with West Ham United, amassing 213 appearances, scoring nine times.

Frank O'Farrell poses at Old Trafford.
Frank O'Farrell poses at Old Trafford.
Image: PA

FORMER MANCHESTER UNITED manager Frank O’Farrell passed away yesterday at the age of 94.

The Cork native, the only Irishman to take charge at Old Trafford, succeeded Wilf McGuinness in 1972 as the club attempted to emerge from the shadow of Matt Busby.

His spell was a tumultuous one, coming to an end 18 months later, during which time he attempted to rebuild an aging squad, while most notably having to contend with an AWOL George Best.

O’Farrell won 30 of 81 games as United boss – losing just once in his opening 14 fixtures – but they were unable to last the course at the top of the table as the influence of Busby and disillusioned players lingered.

soccer-football-league-division-one-west-ham-united-photocall During his playing days with West Ham United. Source: PA

The nine-times capped Republic of Ireland international maintained his sense of dignity and respect during his United reign, continuing in that vein throughout the remainder of his life.

As a manager, he also led Leicester City to the FA Cup final in 1969 but that campaign ended with relegation, and when he was shown the door by United his career took him to Cardiff City and then Iran.

There was an Asian Cup triumph, and in 1982 he opted against returning to England when Newcastle United offered him their top job.

Instead, the boy who was reared yards from Turner’s Cross and worked as a fireman before joining Cork United, stepped away from the game in 1982 to focus his energies on his faith and charity work.

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soccer-fa-cup-final-manchester-city-v-leicester-city-wembley-stadium Leading Leicester City out for the 1969 FA Cup final alongside his opposite number at Manchester City, Joe Mercer. Source: EMPICS Sport

O’Farrell’s playing career as a wing-half in England had begun with West Ham United, amassing 213 appearances and scoring nine times.

He spent eight years at Upton Park before joining Preston North End where, ironically, he was a teammate of the man who would eventually replace him as United manager – Tommy Docherty.

When he did make the transition to the dugout, Torquay United was first port of call, then Leicester where he caught the eye of Busby by attempting to re-shape the focus by dropping legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton.

His efforts at United were undermined but O’Farrell’s career and character can’t be.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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