Tributes have been pouring in for Jim McLaughlin, the greatest manager in League of Ireland history, who was conferred with the Freedom of his native Derry City last week.
The 78-year-old, who won the double with Dundalk, a double-double with Shamrock Rovers and an unprecedented treble with Derry City, was honoured at the the city’s Guildhall last Wednesday.
Jim attended the ceremony alongside his wife Reina, his sons Paul, Sean and Marty and his grandchildren, one of whom, Jack, plays with Dundalk FC’s U13 side.
“He has won plenty of honours through football but this is something very different,” said his son Paul, joint manager of the Sean O’Mahony’s. “We are so proud. It is very humbling.”
Councillor Michaela Boyle, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, lavished praise on McLaughlin who led the Candystripes to a domestic League of Ireland treble 30 years ago, a feat that has never been matched.
“The Freedom of the City honour is a fitting tribute to Jim McLaughlin in recognition of what he achieved with Derry City in 1988/89 season when they won the treble,” she said.
“He has been a strong advocate of the sport and it is fitting that this event is held to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Derry City winning the treble.
“He is dearly loved and respected by the people of this city and region and we are absolutely delighted to confer the Freedom of the City honour to him tonight,” she added.
Members of the treble-winning Derry City side were in attendance with Liam Coyle, who made his debut under McLaughlin as a teenager, describing his former manager as one of the best.
“When you talk to all the players who played for Jim, you would not hear anyone who has a bad word to say about him. For all that he achieved, his humility was one of his greatest strengths.”
Other recipients of the Freedom of the City include the former Bishops of Derry, the late Most Rev Dr Edward Daly, and the Most Rev Dr James Mehaffey; Dr Tom McGinley, of the Foyle Hospice and Nobel Laureate and former SDLP leader, John Hume.
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