Boro’ boss Paul Tisdale secured the services of right back Luke O’Neill at the start of the January 2022 transfer window; the player’s significant Football League experience seen as a huge benefit to a squad in need of strengthening. As recently as summer 2021, O’Neill had been on the books at AFC Wimbledon. But it was from National League North side Kettering Town that we’d capture him. And age was still very much on his side when we did so. At a mere 30-years-old, Tisdale was confident there was plenty left in the right back’s tank.
For O’Neill and Tisdale, however, the problem was that the latter couldn’t get Boro’ back on track in League Two. It was soon to cost him his job, which then had a knock-on effect on O’Neill’s time with us. New boss Steve Evans saw little to enthuse him and about as much to encourage him to put him in the matchday squad. Come the end of the season, you had to assume the writing was on the wall for the player. Sure enough, the right back was released at the end of his deal and moved on to pastures new in summer 2022; a short, but not-so-sweet, time at the Lamex
Luke O’Neill: Before Boro’
A native of Slough, O’Neill’s career started in the East Midlands with Leicester City. He turned pro in August 2008 and made his first team debut not long afterwards. The road to the first team was often blocked, however. So, unsurprisingly, the right back went out on loan to learn his trade. An opportunity to gain first team action first presented itself at Tranmere Rovers in 2010. In 2011, he moved to Kettering Town for a brief stint; the first of two times he’d turn out for the Poppies.
He couldn’t force his way into the Foxes’ reckoning, however. In summer 2011, he left in order to build his career elsewhere. First, Mansfield Town came calling. An impressive debut season saw him on the move yet again the following summer; this time to Burnley. It wasn’t the most fruitful move you’ll ever see. The Clarets didn’t make much use of him, so O’Neill found himself back on loan again. York City, Southend United, Scunthorpe United, Leyton Orient and Southend United (again) all had use for the right back’s talent over a three-year period.
It was at the latter where he’d move permanently in summer 2015. And, this time, he seemed to find some stability in his career. Two years were spent on the Essex coast, before he crossed the Thames for a two-year spell with Gillingham. And then, in summer 2019, the Gills let him go; the player staying in League One after securing a move to AFC Wimbledon. Here he’d spend another two years; a different club still yielding the same fate as he was released in summer 2021.