From the very first year that he played in the Rackard League in 1956 as an 11 year old right up to his retirement in the early 80’s, Willy O’Neill was a class act, both in Hurling and in Football.
From the Rackard League years, he showed great potential, which was manifested in the years
going forward. Over the years playing both codes, he excelled at both Club and County.
With his Club – St. Patrick’s, Kilmore – he was their shining light with some superb performances at both games. As a player, he was delightful and exceptionally talented and his followers were very pleased with the magnetic qualities of his play.
In Football, he usually manned the Centre Half Back for the Club, and in games played, he brought gasps of admiration from the crowd as he soared repeatedly into the clouds to field the ball with glue like hands and then deliver a perfect clearance down to his forward colleagues.
In Hurling, his spectacular control on the ball and his spring heeled breaks from defence were superb. He was commanding, flawless, fearless and perilous in all his actions.
Willy was born in 1945 and was educated at Kilturk N.S..
His Boyhood Hero was – Nickey Rackard R.I.P.. One of the best Goalie’s he has seen in Hurling was – Pat Nolan (Oylegate).
Willy played with Kilmore at Adult Level in 1963 and right through until 1967. In October, 1967, he emigrated to the U.S.A.. His lost to the Club and to the County was immense. He had many years left to perform in the County.
In America, he continued to play on with a Team called – Monaghan. He won – 2 Championship Medals in 1969 and 1970. In 1977, the came back to this Country and through in his lot with the – Liam Mellows Hurling Club, and played with them until his retirement.
The two best Dual Players he has seen outside of Wexford were – Des Foley (Dublin) R.I.P. And Jimmy Barry Murphy (Cork).
In Wexford, Dual Players he found the best were – Jack Berry R.I.P., Paddy Kehoe, Paddy Meyler (Kilmore), Oliver Cullen and Jim O’Neill (Brother) R.I.P..
Willy played Senior Hurling for Wexford from 1965 to 1967 and U’21 Hurling in 1964, 1965 and 1966.
Medals Willy won during his Career were – 7 Rackard League Medals in Hurling and Football, 2 Minor Medals with Kilmore-Rathangan Utd., 2 U’21 Medals with Kilmore-Rathangan Utd., 1 Echo Shield Hurling Medal in 1966 winning vs Ger. O’Han’s. in the Final. At Inter Co. Level, he won – 3 Leinster U’21 Hurling Medals in 1964, 1965 and 1966, 1 All Ireland U’21 Hurling Medal in 1965, 1 Leinster Senior Medal in 1965, 1 National League Medal in 1967 and 1 Walsh Medal.
The four Kilmore Players that impressed him the most were – Paddy Meyler, Pat Miskella, Ollie Roche and Jim O’Neill (Brother) R.I.P..
The four greatest Hurlers he has ever seen in Wexford were – Ned Wheeler, Bobby Rackard R.I.P., Nickey Rackard R.I.P. and Tim Flood R.I.P.. In later years, he selects – Tony Doran, Mick Jacob and Adrian Fenlon.
The four greatest Footballers he has seen were – Jack O’Shea, Mattie Forde, Peter Canavan and Matty McDonagh (Galway) R.I.P..
Other Hurlers that impressed Willy were – Henry Shefflin (Kilkenny), Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Phil Wilson, Tom Neville, Oliver McGrath and Jimmy O’Brien (Ger.O’Han’s.).
The two best Full Backs he has seen in Hurling were – Brian Lohan (Cork) and Dan Quigley (Wexford).
The two best Midfielders he has seen were – Frank Cummins (Kilkenny) and John Connolly (Galway).
The two best Full Forwards he has seen were – Tony Doran (Wexford) and Jim McKenna (Limerick).