Neil O'Donoghue

Neil O'Donoghue
Date of birth (1953-06-18) June 18, 1953
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Career information
Position(s) Placekicker
College Auburn
NFL draft 1977 / Round: 5 / Pick 127
Career history
As player
1977 Buffalo Bills
1978–1979 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1980–1985 St. Louis Cardinals
Career stats
Neil O'Donoghue
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1971–1972 Shamrock Rovers 12 (3)
? Drumcondra F.C. ? (?)
1978 Shelbourne F.C. ? (?)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Cornelis Joseph Connor Dennis "Neil" O'Donoghue (born June 18, 1953) is a former American football placekicker. He played in the National Football League (NFL) from 1977 to 1985 with the Buffalo Bills, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the St. Louis Cardinals

Early life

Growing up in Clondalkin, his father Michael played for the Ireland national field hockey team.


Playing for Round Towers GAA (Clondalkin), he was described as one of the best juvenile players they produced. He played U13 Football at the age of eight and won an U13 League Final against St Pats Palmerstown in 1965.

Association football

O'Donoghue made his League of Ireland debut for Shamrock Rovers as a replacement for Damien Richardson at Sligo Rovers on the 17 October 1971. In his second League game he scored his first goal at Glenmalure Park against Limerick on the 31st October. He made a total of 16 appearances including 2 each in the Texaco Cup and the FAI Cup scoring 3 goals.[1][2]

In February 1978 he returned home at the end of the American Football season to play for Shelbourne F.C..[3]

American football

O'Donoghue first came to the United States to play soccer for Saint Bernard College. He was awarded the first soccer scholarship to the States given to an Irish person. When the school's soccer program closed, he transferred to Auburn University and became the starting placekicker for Auburn Tigers football team. He received All-American honors in 1976.

O'Donoghue was selected in firth round of the 1977 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, but was cut five games into the 1977 season after making only two of six field goal attempts. After lengthy immigration problems, O'Donoghue was picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978. The Bucs had joined the league in 1976 and had compiled a 2–26 record in their first two years. O'Donoghue played for two years with the Bucs helping them improve to a 15–17 by converting 55 of 64 point after touchdown attempts and 24 of 43 field goals attempts.

In 1980 O'Donoghue replaced Steve Little as the kicker for the St. Louis Cardinals.[4] He missed a potential game-winning kick against the Washington Redskins in the last game of the 1984 season that would have sent his Cardinals to the playoffs and missed three field goal attempts in overtime of a Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants during the 1983 season, resulting in a 20–20 tie.

Even with a host of missed attempts, O'Donoghue still set the long-standing Cardinals record for most points in a season, with 117 in 1984. In his NFL career, O'Donoghue had a field goal success rate of 59.3%.[5] O'Donoghue is the most recent Irish-born player in the NFL.

Later life

O'Donoghue is currently living in Clearwater, Florida selling real estate.


  1. The Hoops by Paul Doolan and Robert Goggins (ISBN 0-7171-2121-6)
  3. Fitzpatrick, Seán Shelbourne Cult Heroes (2009, Colour Books) ISBN 978-1-905483-67-9
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