|Date Of Birth:||2 Jul 1957|
|Place Of Birth:||Dublin|
In the summer of 1985, when newly-arrived Dundalk manager Turlough O’Connor signed goalkeeper Alan O’Neill to take over between the posts from Richie Blackmore, it was not the first time that O’Neill had replaced a long-time favourite and club legend.
He was with Shamrock Rovers from 1975—making his League debut in December 1975—but when Johnny Giles arrived in 1977, Alan displaced long-time Milltown favourite Pat Dunne.
Over eight seasons with Rovers he accumulated all the domestic honours, except the League Championship, and had added Amateur, League of Ireland and under-21 caps to his CV.
Jim McLaughlin’s opening gambit when he came to Milltown in the summer of 1983 saw another changing of the guard and there was a shock for the Hoops’ supporters when Alan was replaced by Jody Byrne.
He ended up at UCD and in his first year with the Students he added another FAI Cup medal to the one he had won in 1978 except that this time it was against Shamrock Rovers, when the College team caused the biggest Final upset in years and Alan was voted Man of the Match in the 2-1 replay victory.
In the following season he starred in UCD’s 1-0 aggregate defeat in the European Cup Winners' tie against Everton who went on to annex the trophy. After two seasons with UCD a clearing out of the professional staff saw a queue forming for Alan’s signature with Turlough O’Connor proved the most persuasive. O’Connor’s view “The best ‘keeper in the League of Ireland in recent years” would be vindicated over and over again during the following eight seasons.
During that time stand-by keepers at Oriel Park would be grossly under-employed and only two of them would be called upon for League duty—Stephen Henderson on four occasions in 1986-87 and Eddie Van Boxtel for another four games during 1991-92.
He had an unbroken run of League games appearances from the beginning of the 1987-88 season to March 17th 1992, a total of 161 games. The run included 74 clean sheets and he was on the losing side in only 25 of these games!
Along the way he played a central role in all of the great occasions of the “O’Connor” era—the 1987-88 Double, the 1990-91 Championship victory—and he added substantially to his representative honours. His 20 LOI caps included appearing in all eight games of the 1988 Olympic Qualifying campaign as well as appearances in Singapore, New York, Los Angeles and Port of Spain.
His collection of FAI Cup mementos was expanded by the addition of two runner-up awards, in 1986-87 (Shamrock Rovers) and 1992-93 (Shelbourne). The 1993 Final also marked his last Dundalk game and the following year he re-joined Shamrock Rovers, ten seasons after his previous spell.
Under Ray Treacy he completed the unfinished business of a Hoops Championship medal when Rovers were never out of the top two spots and ran out convincing 7 points winners.
In 1995-96, his last Rovers season, he was voted Player of the Year, adding to his previous such awards while he was with UCD (1983-84) and Dundalk (1992-93). Following the sacking of Ray Treacy in January 1996, Alan and Terry Eviston took on the role of joint-managers but one game into the following season Alan was sacked and Terry resigned.
Alan spent the rest of that season with Sligo Rovers, his last and 22nd year in the National League of Ireland.
Thirty years after his LOI debut, he took on the job of Shamrock Rovers temporary manager for the play-offs at the end of the 2005 season after Rovers had finished second from bottom of the Premier Division, thanks in the main to an eight-points deduction due to financial irregularities. But he couldn’t prevent relegation, losing out to Dublin City in the play-offs.
His father was a goalkeeper with the Dublin Gaelic team so it was no surprise that he and his brother Dermot were members of the custodians’ union. While playing with St Malachys Schoolboys he came to the attention of Liam Tuohy who brought him into the Shamrock Rovers Youths set up. Dermot had spent a short period at Oriel Park in the early 1980s, as under study to Richie Blackmore.
Alan’s most recent appearance at Oriel Park was with Dundalk 1990s Legends in the July 2011 fund-raiser against Liverpool Legends.
He was involved for many years as a goalkeeping coach with the Republic of Ireland under age teams.
What They Said About Him
According to Turlough O’Connor “Alan was the best League of Ireland goalkeeper of his era.”
6 Wins: League 1987-88 and 1990-91; FAI Cup 1987-88; League Cup 1989-90; Presidents Cup 1989-90.
8 Runners Up: League 1986-87 and 1988-89; FAI Cup 1986-87 and 1992-93; League Cup 1985-86 and 1988-89; Presidents Cup 1986-87 and 1987-88.
20 LOI Caps (inc 8 Olympic Qualifiers)
Player of the Year 1992-93
With Shamrock Rovers
League 1993-94; FAI Cup 1978; League Cup 1976; Player of the Year 1995-96
With UCD> FAI Cup 1984; Player of the Year 1983-84.
|LOI 22 Seasons|
|European Competition Player Stats|
|Shamrock Rovers||1982-83||UFC||4 (0) 0|
|UCD||1984-85||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1987-88||CWC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1988-89||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1989-90||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Dundalk||1991-92||EUC||2 (0) 0|
|Shamrock Rovers||1994-95||UFC||2 (0) 0|
|Total||16 (0) 0|
|UFC=UEFA Cup; CWC=Cup Winners Cup; EUC=European Cup|