With Munster set to tackle Leinster in Thomond Park on Monday and with Ulster having beaten Connacht on Friday, we look at what Ireland’s provinces might look like when it comes to football.
Ireland is a country that thrives on provincial and inter-county rivalry. This hasn’t always transferred to football, but these lineups could certainly make for some interesting games.
A large contingent of a Leinster team could consist of Dublin-born players with Darren Randolph and Paul McShane flying the flag for Wicklow. New Preston signing Andy Boyle makes the cut following an impressive Europa League showing with an exciting attacking midfield three of Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan and Alan Judge.
Veteran Robbie Keane would be the perfect fit for Leinster captain. Glenn Whelan and Jeff Hendrick are regular starting players for Ireland while Matt Doherty will be hoping to win full international honours in the near future.
Manager: Stephen Kenny
Munster could field a robust side, with Cork’s Colin Doyle protected by fellow Countymen John Egan and Damien Delaney either side of Waterford’s John O’Shea. Another Waterford native, Derrick Williams of Blackburn Rovers, and Hull City’s Brian Lenihan, also of Cork, make up the wing back positions.
Conor Hourihane and David Meyler are two players who will be pushing for Ireland starts in the future while Shane Long (Tipperary) and Daryl Murphy (Waterford) would hope for the creative services of Stephen Ireland (in the unlikely event he turns up).
Manager: Roy Keane
It was challenging to find enough Connacht players position-for-position without picking the entire Galway United team. Therefore, a merge with Ulster could serve them well. Either Donegal’s Shay Given or Galway’s David Forde would play between the posts with Ireland captain Seamus Coleman the leader once again.
Derry’s Darron Gibson and Shane Duffy along with Antrim’s Marc Wilson are three Ireland regulars. The other Galway natives, Greg Cunningham and Daryl Horgan, make the cut with perhaps a controversial inclusion for Athlone native Robbie Benson, who would technically qualify for Leinster too. If any Athlone residents of the Leinster persuasion take offence to Benson’s inclusion, just slot in his Dundalk teammate Stephen O’Donnell (Galway).
James McClean and Cavan’s Cillian Sheridan complete an attack full of flair and power.
Manager: Martin O’Neill
Finally, we cannot forget our granny rule players, who themselves could assemble a strong team. Derby defender Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh and Alex Pearce would join regular starter Ciaran Clark in front of Kieran Westwood.
Scots Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy would assemble in midfield alongside Harry Arter and Anthony Pilkington.
David McGoldrick would partner captain and Ireland talisman Jon Walters up front. Mick McCarthy would be the perfect fit to manage this team of British-born but proud Irishmen.
Manager: Mick McCarthy
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena