Monday 5 December 2016

WATCH: Could this be the oldest fan cheering on the Boys in Green? Meet 95-year-old 'Micko' O'Neill

Published 14/06/2016 | 14:39

Packed stands at Lansdowne Road, the Italians' visit in 1927 and a Green Army of a different era - and these are only some of Ireland supporter Michael O'Neill's memories.

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The 95-year-old could be one of Ireland's oldest fans and his opinion on the beautiful game is respected.

Michael O'Neill, or 'Micko', said he believes Hoolahan’s goal against Sweden last night was one of the best goals Ireland ever scored.

“It was magnificent. Hoolahan never gave the other player a look in,” Michael told Independent.ie.

“It was one of the greatest goals Ireland ever scored. It didn’t even hit the ground. It was a beautiful goal.”

'Micko' was born at Fitzwilliam Street, Ringsend in 1921 and is a lifelong Shamrock Rovers supporter, recalling a time when over 20,000 fans went to support the Dublin side. He married Eileen, better known as Nelly, in St Patrick's Church and they have a daughter together. He worked for the Irish Glass Bottle Company for 35 years and worked in the local church for 15 years when he retired.

Michael O’Neill (95) from Ringsend, one of Ireland's oldest fans (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)
Michael O’Neill (95) from Ringsend, one of Ireland's oldest fans (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

His favourite hobby is watching the soccer matches from the Ailesbury nursing home in Sandymount, Dublin.

He said he was left disappointed by Ireland player Ciaran Clark’s own goal that he said “never should have happened”.

“Sweden should never have gotten that goal. Ireland could have played the game and put the ball out,” he said.

Micko said the 'million dollar question' is whether Ireland will beat Belgium and Italy and progress from their group.

“Why can’t we? We did away with Germany before and we’re going to play very well again. I don’t know about Italy but we have a good shot.”

He recalls one of his favourite players, Paddy Moore from Shamrock Rovers, the first man to ever score four goals in a World Cup match.

One of his favourite games was when Ireland played Italy at Lansdowne road in 1927, when Micko was only six years old.

Another stand-out match for Micko was when Ireland played Spain and so many people were allowed into the stadium that people were dragged onto the pitch.

“It was scary. There wasn’t room for people to smoke," he said.

Sports fan Micko played Gaelic Football as a young boy in Ringsend and is the oldest member and mascot of St. Patrick’s Rowing Club. The club presented him with a seat in his honour on his 90th birthday, which can be seen facing onto the Liffey opposite the 3 Arena.

This week, nursing homes across Ireland are celebrating Nursing Homes Week 2016 where staff are bringing residents, their family and friends to come together to enjoy the Euros 2016 matches.

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