Saturday 24 August 2019

Do you agree with our best-ever Irish XI in the Premier League?

Paul McGrath, Roy Keane and Damien Duff
Paul McGrath, Roy Keane and Damien Duff
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

PAUL McGRATH was named the first PFA Player of the Year in the Premier League in 1993, with all the Irishmen who have followed in his exalted footsteps striving to reach the levels of excellence set by the legend.

Picking a first XI from a stunning array of Ireland internationals who have made their mark in the Premier League is no easy task, with this final selection certain to create debate aplenty.

SHAY GIVEN

clubs: Blackburn, Newcastle, Man City, Aston Villa, Stoke

Premier League appearances: 451

Given had a stint at Celtic in his formative days and cut his professional teeth with Blackburn, before finding a home for his talents with Newcastle after he was signed by manager Kenny Dalglish in 1997.

An FA Cup runner-up with Newcastle a year later, he joined City in 2009 and was part of the formative phase of their emergence as a real force, before he lost his place in their team to Joe Hart and then had a final flourish with Aston Villa.

SEAMUS COLEMAN

Club: Everton

Premier League appearances: 248

In an era when our players have struggled to make the leap from League of Ireland football to the biggest stage in the English game, Coleman has been a beacon of hope.

The Ireland captain was signed by Everton from Sligo Rovers in a £60,000 deal in January 2009 and has gone on to enjoy a stellar career with the Goodison Park club, scoring 20 Premier League goals as a rampaging full-back.

PAUL McGRATH

Clubs: Aston Villa, Derby County

Premier League appearances: 277

McGrath played for Manchester United in the old First Division and his creaking knees put his top-tier career under threat until Ron

Atkinson found a way to get the best out of him at Villa.

Despite rarely training, McGrath found a way to play four successful seasons in the Premier League with Villa and was a League Cup winner with the club in 1994 and 1996.

RICHARD DUNNE

Clubs: Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa, QPR

Premier League appearances: 431

A player who reinvented himself on more than one occasion when he appeared to be on the way down the football ladder, Dunne was a talismanic defender who helped Manchester City and QPR to promotion to the Premier League.

He was also a pivotal figure in Aston Villa's finest days under the guidance of Martin O’Neill and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in the 2009/10 season.

DENIS IRWIN

Clubs: Manchester United, Wolves

Premier League appearances: 371

With seven Premier League titles to his credit, this magnificent full-back is an automatic pick for any Ireland dream team.

Irwin's trophy haul also includes three FA Cup wins and a League Cup win and he will forever be etched into United folklore as a member of their fabled Treble winning team from the 1998/99 season.

JOHN O’SHEA

Clubs: Manchester United, Sunderland

Premier League appearances: 445

This versatile performer spent much of his career in a defensive role, but he had to be squeezed into this team as an underrated holding midfielder.

A strong tackler and a fine reader of the game, Alex Ferguson often deployed O'Shea in a more advanced role when he looked to dilute the attacking threat of more potent rivals – and he also popped up with some crucial goals for the club.

ROY KEANE

Club: Manchester United

Premier League appearances: 366

The most complete Irish player of the Premier League era helped Manchester United to seven league titles, four FA Cups and he also played a pivotal role in their 1999 Champions League win.

PFA Player of the Year in the 1999/2000 season, Keane was included in the team of the year five times and he was the heartbeat of United's best teams during the Ferguson era.

DAMIEN DUFF

Clubs: Blackburn, Chelsea, Newcastle, Fulham

Premier League appearances: 391

A two-time Premier League winner in Jose Mourinho's first Chelsea side, Duff also won the League Cup with Blackburn and played a key role in Fulham's run to the Europa League final in 2010.

Duff managed to forge a highly successful career in English football despite the rising standards of England's top flight, as he emerged from Ballyboden to establish himself as a world star in a team of Chelsea winners.

KEVIN DOYLE

Clubs: Reading, Wolves, QPR

Premier League appearances: 164

Doyle blazed a trail for Irish talent during a period when the door to the Premier League was closing for our young talent, as he made a transition from Cork City to help Reading secure top-flight status in 2006.

He also shone at Wolves before the club fell apart around him.

ROBBIE KEANE

Clubs: Coventry, Leeds, Tottenham (twice), Liverpool, West Ham, Aston Villa

Premier League appearances: 439

Keane's 126 goals put him in a league of his own for Irish goalscorers, with this prolific Dubliner enjoying his finest days at Tottenham, as he won the League Cup in the 2007/08 season.

The only Irishman to break through the 100-goal barrier in the Premier League, Keane is currently the 14th-highest scorer in the history of the competition.

NIALL QUINN

Clubs: Manchester City, Sunderland

Premier League appearances: 250

Quinn's career straddled the old First Division and the Premier League transition, with his best moments coming in the rebranded competition as he took centre stage for Manchester City and Sunderland.

His 59 Premier League goals were complemented by a host of assists, with this towering figure a respected voice in the game during and after his playing days.

On the bench:

Stephen Carr (Tottenham, Newcastle, Birmingham)

Steve Staunton (Aston Villa, Liverpool)

Kenny Cunningham (Wimbledon, Birmingham)

Jason McAteer (Bolton, Liverpool, Blackburn, Sunderland)

Rory Delap (Derby County, Southampton, Sunderland, Stoke City)

Glenn Whelan (Manchester City, Stoke)

Shane Long (Reading, West Brom, Hull, Southampton)

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