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That’s A Wrap: Irish Football’s All-Star XI For 2016

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Harry Arter of Bournemouth during the Premier League match between Manchester City and AFC Bournemouth at Etihad Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

With 2016 drawing to a close, we take a look at the Irish players position-for-position that made a huge impact on 2016. This team is certainly up for discussion.

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GK: Darren Randolph

After establishing himself as Irish number one just in time for the Euros, the Bray man put in some key performances for Ireland. Having finally broken into the West Ham starting team, Randolph recovered from a couple of blunders to finish 2016 strongly with the Hammers now gathering momentum.

SWANSEA, WALES - DECEMBER 26: Darren Randolph of West Ham United celebrates the opening goal scored by Andre Ayew during the Premier League match between Swansea City and West Ham United at Liberty Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

RB: Seamus Coleman

Some would argue that Sean Gannon should be in at right back but following some fantastic leadership in the Euros and a strong return from injury this season, Coleman earns the spot.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19:  Seamus Coleman of Everton celebrates scoring his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Swansea City at Goodison Park on November 19, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

LB: Dane Massey

A man tipped for an Ireland call, Massey showed the poise and attacking flair of an international fullback in the Europa League. The Dundalk player was one of the Lillywhites’ key performers during their historic run.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 17: Dane Massey of Dundalk during the Champions League qualifying round game between Dundalk and Legia Warsaw at Aviva Stadium on August 17, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

CB: Shane Duffy

A close call but he pips John Egan, and Duffy takes the centre half spot. Having been an outside bet for inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad, the Derryman has cemented his place in Martin O’Neill’s plans. Despite a few blunders earlier in the season including a few own goals, Duffy’s finish to the 2015/16 season as well as his recent form for Championship leaders Brighton have been extremely impressive.

LILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 22:  Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland celebrates his team's 1-0 win in the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match between Italy and Republic of Ireland at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on June 22, 2016 in Lille, France.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

CB: Andy Boyle

Boyle was a leader of the terrific Dundalk heroes. After a string of good performances, the athletic and agile defender earned an Irish call up. This was followed by a move to Preston where he will only improve.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 17: Andy Boyle of Dundalk during the Champions League qualifying round game between Dundalk and Legia Warsaw at Aviva Stadium on August 17, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

 

CM: Harry Arter

Having missed the Euros through injury, Arter has bounced back to become one of the Premier League’s stand-out midfielders this season. The English born player has earned high praise from pundits across the water and made his long-awaited competitive debut against Austria in Vienna.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Harry Arter of Bournemouth celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and West Ham United at Vitality Stadium on January 12, 2016 in Bournemouth, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

CM: Stephen O’Donnell

The captain of Dundalk, O’Donnell showed the composure and robust style that held the Lillywhites together. Dominant in the League of Ireland, some may wish the Galway man was a few years younger so he could lend his leadership and poise to the Irish team. A solid year for him and his club.

Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Semi-Final, Oriel Park, Dundalk 2/10/2016 Dundalk vs Derry City Dundalk's Stephen O'Donnell

RAM: Daryl Horgan

Possibly one of the best Irish players of 2016. Horgan enjoyed a successful Europa League, catching the eye against international opponents. Like Boyle, he too earned an Irish call up and could be in the frame for a starting position in 2017.

SSE Airtricity League Premier Divison, Oriel Park, Dundalk 11/10/2016 Dundalk vs Cork City Dundalk's Daryl Horgan celebrates scoring the second goal of the game with a free kick Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

LAM: James McClean

After a mixed season in 2015/16, McClean was one of Ireland’s star performers in France. Having become a key player for West Brom this year, McClean scored three vital goals in World Cup Qualifying including a winner against Austria in November, which could go a long way in booking Ireland’s trip to Russia.

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna, Austria 12/11/2016 Austria vs Republic of Ireland Ireland's James McClean celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game

CAM: Robbie Brady

Battling with Wes Hoolahan, Ronan Finn and Conor Hourihane, Brady takes the slot. Despite failing to earn a return to the Premier League in the summer, Brady has been one of Norwich’s best players since joining in 2015. His exploits at the Euros will never be forgotten and with three goals for Ireland this year, 2017 will be an exciting one for the Dubliner.

Robbie Brady celebrates scoring an 85th minute header to give Republic of Ireland a 1-0 against Italy in Lille to send them into the last 16. (NPHO/Donall Farmer)

ST: Sean Maguire

Having returned from England after a stint with West Ham United, Maguire didn’t quite make the grade at Dundalk. However after a move to Cork City, the forward scored an amazing 28 league goals as well as the winner in the FAI cup final. Although signed up to Cork for another season, a move back to England could be on the cards for the 22 year-old.

Sean Maguire

 

Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena

Author: Nick Menezes

Nick is a soccer, GAA and rugby fanatic who has a worrying obsession with the Irish football team. His articles focus on Irish football and he also writes some light-hearted pieces, particularly quirky starting XIs.

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