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No prizes for his loyalty

Everton's poor finish unfair on Coleman


Everton’s Seamus Coleman in action against Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League at Goodison Park

Everton’s Seamus Coleman in action against Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League at Goodison Park

Everton’s Seamus Coleman in action against Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League at Goodison Park

Two men who once bore the captain's armband with the Republic of Ireland had their say this week on what it means to be a winner.

Somewhere in England, Roy Keane's eyebrows are today possibly still arched in horror at the sight of the Aston Villa players celebrating avoiding relegation as if they'd landed a major trophy.

Meanwhile, from Merseyside, Ronnie Whelan tweeted a photo of him with the Premier League trophy, adding "was great to win six of the old but good to get a hand on the new one".

A reminder that Whelan won six league titles was not a boast, just a statement of fact.

But for the current holder of the captain's armband with Ireland, it was yet another reminder of how far away his hands are from a trophy of that magnitude.

Seamus Coleman has had a decent season with Everton. One report from their season finale, a dismal defeat at home to a Bournemouth side bound for the Championship, picked out Coleman as the only player in blue who came away from the day with any sort of credit.

Faint praise, indeed, when you're the least-worst player in a terrible team.

Three defeats in six games is poor; scoring more than one goal in just one of the nine games after the league restarted is dreadful; and a league placing of 12th is their worst Premier League finish in 16 years.

A Premier League title, like the ones hoovered up by his captaincy predecessors Whelan and Keane, was never really on the menu, but a push for Europe, and a Cup run, were achievable aims for Coleman. Instead, he has been condemned to yet another medal-free, trophy-free season.

It must be a frustration for Coleman to spend 11 seasons in the Premier League, establish himself as one of the most reliable defenders in that league, but never even come close to getting his hands on a trophy.

He will turn 32 later this year, is unlikely to leave Goodison Park in the medium term, and any move will not be to a higher-ranked club.

Sadly, Coleman could finish his career with the unwanted tag of being one of the best Irish players abroad never to win a major trophy.

Former internationals such as Phil Babb or Eddie McGoldrick can't hold a candle to Coleman but they have medals to polish and show off in retirement, a treat denied to Coleman. That's hardly fair, but it's also not fair that Jonathan Greening has a Champions League medal, so fairness doesn't come into it.

It brings up one of those 'what if?' moments. What if Manchester United signed Coleman? Even in the wilderness years (seven) since they last claimed the Premier League, United have still won the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League.

One of those medals would have been enough for a Coleman-like figure and a strong full-back like him could have turned one of those leaky United sides into possible challengers.

Even the FA Cup would have been a reward, but that was a stage denied to Coleman season after season.

Fans from this country, of a certain age, can remember when the FA Cup final had a very strong Irish flavour: five Irish internationals played in the last final of the '80s.

Later on the numbers of Irish dropped, but there was still a chance for people like Roy Keane, John O'Shea and Steve Finnan to win an FA Cup medal or at least play in a final.

But no more. Saturday's clash of Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley will be the fourth consecutive FA Cup final without a single Irishman involved.

In another era, Coleman would be aiming for his fourth or fifth major trophy by now. Instead, he's potless.

Coleman will be on a well-earned holiday when that game is played, Everton's tame end to an awful season surely leaving a sour taste which could take time to clear.

To Coleman's credit, he has shown immense and rare loyalty to a club whose ambition does not seem to match his.

In an era where rampant egos like Luis Suarez engineer a move away from their club so they can "win things", Coleman has never once expressed a desire to leave Goodison Park.

Once whispers of United's interest were in the air, Coleman could have pushed for an exit from Everton to test the waters and see just how keen United were. But he stayed quiet, stayed at Everton and the big move never came.

Coleman could well finish up as a one-club man in England (bar that loan spell at Blackpool) and his status at Goodison more or less guarantees him a job there, in a coaching or youth development role.

It's just a pity for him and for the Irish game, that a mid-table finish and a tame exit in the FA Cup, way short of a Cup final appearance, will be Coleman's legacy.

Manchester United's bargain buy (just £600,000) of an Irish full back in 1990 yielded them Denis Irwin and allowed Irwin collect 13 major trophies.

At sixty grand, Everton got Coleman for a steal from Sligo. But payback has not managed to come his way.