Feb 20 2013 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Airdrie United defender Chris O'Neil
Airdrie have handed talented teen Chris O’Neil a two-and-a-half-year professional contract.
The 17-year-old has been outstanding since making his first-team debut in November.
O’Neil has made the right-back slot his own with a string of excellent displays after joining the Diamonds in the summer.
Delighted gaffer Jimmy Boyle admits the youngster has been a “breath of fresh air” after wanting to sign him just 10 minutes into an open trial match.
He said: “Chris is a cracking lad and a good guy. He works really hard and you can see that he knows football and knows how to play the right-back position.
“I think he has been fantastic since coming into the team and, if he keeps progressing, he is definitely one for the future.
“When he came along for the trial game, I said to Stevie Findlay (Airdrie’s Under-19s coach] after 10 minutes that we had to get him off and get him signed.
“We knew he was going to the SPL exit trials the following day and, by all accounts, he did well.
“But because we give the young boys a chance here, he wanted to come to Airdrie.
“Chris has gone out and taken his chance. He earned that chance by working hard in the Under-19s and reserve games.
“It’s really pleasing. He’s a strong player, gets back well and is consistent. He is learning the game and wants to listen. I’m quite sure he will go far in the game if he keeps working hard.”
O’Neil has agreed a deal until the end of May 2015 with young centre-back Grant Drummond also agreeing similar terms.
The manager added: “Grant is 17 as well and we really like him.
“He is strong and aggressive and he may end up getting his chance quite soon as we are lacking in that area of the pitch.
“We think he has good enough ability and it’s just a case of making sure we use him in the first-team at the right time.
“We fully believe he is another Ricki Lamie in the making. He is a right-sided central defender who has done well in the Under-19s and the reserves this season.
“There are a number of young boys signed up beyond the end of the season and there are others we are looking to promote.
“This is the way the club is going. We want to bring youth through and we feel we have good enough players to be able to do that.”
Airdrie are back in action this weekend when they travel to Irn-Bru First Division promotion hopefuls Partick Thistle.
Ricki Lamie, Marc Warren and David Lilley are all out.