Michael O’Neill appointed Northern Ireland manager

One time candidate for the Hibs manager’s job Michael O’Neill has been appointed boss the Northern Ireland national side.

O’Neill, who earned 33 caps for his country as a player, edged out two other former internationals in Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie for the job and will start work with the Irish Football Association on February 1.

The 42-year-old resigned his post at Shamrock Rovers earlier this month after making them the first League of Ireland side to qualify for the group stages of a major European competition.

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Hibs appointed Pat Fenlon as manager in November following the departure of Colin Calderwood.

Nelson said: “Michael was the stand out choice from an excellent field. The selection panel was very impressed with his thoughts and plans for football in Northern Ireland over the coming years.”

During his time with Shamrock, O’Neill won back-to-back League of Ireland titles and saw his stock rise even further when he guided his side to a Europa League play-off victory over Partizan Belgrade.

He had been strongly linked with the Hibernian job before Pat Fenlon was installed at Easter Road.

O’Neill’s reign will get under way with a Windsor Park friendly against Norway on February 29, with further friendlies already agreed with Holland and Finland before the World Cup 2014 campaign gets under way.

Northern Ireland have been drawn against Portugal, Russia, Azerbaijan, Israel and Luxembourg in their qualifying group.