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O'Neill's comeback ignites Drogs and gets town smiling


Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

THE SIGHT OF Drogheda United at the top of the Premier Division table after the first two rounds of games has put a large smile on the faces of football fans in the town.

But an even bigger good news story to come out of Drogheda this season has been the goal-scoring form of Gary O'Neill.

It was only last September when the club's media department had the most unwelcome task of informing the public that the popular striker had been diagnosed with cancer. At the time it seemed inconsiderate and illogical to speak about a future football career for the popular striker but 'Nailer' has managed to make a successful recovery and return to action.

It's also been an effective return as in their last two games, a League Cup tie against Crumlin United and a league game away to Bohemians, Drogheda were losing only for O'Neill to save the day with his goals.

"Gary has been our saviour in the last two matches and that has been brilliant to see," says Drogheda boss Robbie Horgan, who saw O'Neill score twice last Friday as Drogheda clawed back a 2-0 deficit to draw 2-2 away to Bohs.

"It is an amazing story, having Gary back in the side and scoring goals again after all he has been through. Gary has had great support and medical help but what he has achieved, recovering from a cancer diagnosis to play in the Premier Division again and score, is so good to see.

"Myself and Gary go back a long way, I was with him last year when we spoke about his diagnosis, his whole life had been turned upside down.

"So Gary took time out to focus on what he needed to do, he got the treatment he needed and then by December word came back from the doctors that there was no reason why he couldn't carry on as normal.


"We got him back involved, we got him on board for this season and he has been brilliant for us. A week into pre-season this year Gary came to me and said he wasn't sure if he could go on, I convinced him that was just the general feeling about pre-season training and we are all getting the rewards now," added Horgan, whose side opened the new season with a thrilling 4-1 win over local rivals Dundalk and then rescued a draw away to Bohs last week, that result allowing United to remain on top of the table.

"I think people are surprised to see us there on top but that suits us, though it is very early days in the season," says Horgan as Drogheda prepare to face Derry City tonight.

"In 2012 the side stayed under the radar for most of the year but went on to have a very successful season, hopefully we can do the same this year."