With the provisional rugby sides tackling each other this Christmas weekend, we take a look at what provincial football teams might look like.
Each province has been represented in Irish squads in recent times with each province containing a number of players to serve up decent sides. We take into consideration current internationals and other players plying their trade in the League of Ireland and elsewhere hailing from each province.
While Dublin dominates the Leinster team, it does contain two Wicklow men in Darren Randolph (Middlesborough) and Paul McShane (Reading). Dubliner’s Andy Boyle (Preston), Matt Doherty (Wolves) and Stephen Ward (Burnley) complete the back four.
The remainder of the side is made up of Dubs with the exception of Kilkenny’s Sean Maguire (Preston). Midfield duo Jeff Hendrick (Burnley) and Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa) provide cover to a potent attack with Robbie Brady on the opposite flank to Maguire with Wes Hoolahan (Norwich) providing the creativity for Robbie Keane (ATK).
Leinster also have a strong bench, all of which are Dublin born players with the exception Meath’s Darragh Lenihan.
Subs: Stephen Henderson (Nottingham Forest/Dublin), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers/Meath), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United/Dublin), Jack Byrne (Oldham/Dublin), Johnny Hayes (Celtic/Dublin), Alan Judge (Brentford/Dublin), Anthony Stokes (Dublin)
Manager: Stephen Kenny
Ulster (Republic of Ireland players)
Shay Given (free agent) is technically still not retired and takes his place alongside fellow Donegal men Seamus Coleman (Everton) and Southend’s Stephen McLoughlin who has played left full-back in the past.
Antrim’s Marc Wilson (Sunderland) completes the robust defence.
There is a strong Derry contingent with Darron Gibson (Sunderland), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds), Patrick McEleney (who is still eligible for Northern Ireland but last represented the Republic) and James McClean (West Brom) in the side.
Cavan man Cillian Sheridan (Jagiellonia) lead the line with his countyman, Aston Villa’s Jake Doyle Hayes in midfield. The bench is made up largely of League of Ireland players with Donegal, Antrim and Derry all represented.
Subs: Conrad Logan (Mansfield Town/Donegal), Conor McDermott (Derry City/Derry), Aaron McEneff (Derry City/Derry) Rory Hale (Derry City/Antrim), Daniel Kearns (Limerick FC/Antrim), Ronan Hale (Birmingham City/Antrim), Ronan Curtis (Derry City/Derry)
Manager: Martin O’Neill
A good blend of youth and experience with Cork trio Colin Doyle (Bradford), John Egan (Brentford) and Kevin Long (Burnley) joined by Waterford duo John O’Shea (Sunderland) and Derrick Williams in defence.
Four Cork men make up a diamond midfield with David Meyler (Hull City) holding with Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa) and Alan Browne (Preston) either side.
Love him or hate him, Stephen Ireland (Stoke City) plays in the attacking role behind Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest) and Tipperary’s Shane Long (Southampton).
There is a strong Cork and Waterford contingent on the bench with exciting youngsters Chiedoze Ogbene and Jayson Molumby making the cut.
Subs: Brian Murphy (Cardiff City/Waterford), Brian Lenihan (Hull City/Cork), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace/Cork) Gearoid Morrissey (Cork City/Cork),Jayson Mulumby (Brighton/Waterford), Chiedoze Ogbene (Limerick FC/Cork), Roy O’Donovan (Newcastle Jets/Cork)
Manager: Roy Keane
Connacht are strongly represented by Galway with Ireland goalkeeper David Forde (Cambridge United) fronted by brother Joe (St Johnstone) and Conor Shaughnessy (Leeds) and Greg Cunningham (Preston).
The back four is completed by Mayo’s Noe Baba (Macclesfield Town) who could still be a potentially exciting prospect.
Daryl Horgan (Preston), Ryan Manning (QPR) and the recently prolific Rory Gaffney (Bristol Rovers) make up a strong Galway based attack with another Galweigen Stephen O’Donnell (Dundalk) providing the cover.
Mayo’s Ronan Murray (Dundalk) completes the side following his fine spell with Galway United. A very domestic-based bench with Sligo legend Raff Cretaro taking his place.
Subs: Michael Schlingermann (Sligo Rovers/Mayo), Colm Horgan (Cork City/Galway), Seamus Conneely (Accrington Stanly/Galway), Ryan Connolly (Galway United/Galway), David Crawley (Sligo Rovers/Mayo), Raff Crettaro (Sligo Rovers/Sligo), Pat Hoban (Dundalk/Galway)
Manager: Jim McDonagh
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena