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New Beginning

O'Neill offered Northern Ireland job - reports

Former Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O’Neill has been offered the vacant Northern Ireland job, according to reports this morning.

CHRISTMAS MAY HAVE come a couple of days early for Michael O’Neill.

Sky Sports News reports that O’Neill has been offered the vacant Northern Ireland manager’s job after impressing IFA headhunters at interview earlier this week.

The Portadown native parted ways with Shamrock Rovers last week after three successful seasons in which the Tallaght club won back-to-back Airtricity League titles and also became the first League of Ireland club to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League.

It soon emerged that O’Neill was on the IFA’s three-man shortlist of candidates to succeed Nigel Worthington, who stepped down following the recent Euro 2012 qualification campaign.

Iain Dowie and Jim Magilton were understood to also be in contention but this morning’s reports indicate that O’Neill has beaten them to the post, though the appointment will not be made formal until the new year.

If O’Neill is appointed, his first task will be to ready his side for a friendly against Norway in Windsor Park on 29 February. Northern Ireland have also accepted an invitation to play the Netherlands in Amsterdam in June as part of the Dutch preparations for Euro 2012.

The new manager’s first competitive game will come against Russia in Moscow on 7 September when the qualification campaign for the 2014 World Cup kicks off.

Northern Ireland have been drawn in Group F alongside Portugal, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

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