Having looked at a number of ‘Granny Rule’ players that could make up an Irish XI, we now look at some League of Ireland options that could push themselves into Martin O’Neill’s plans.
O’Neill has always had the openness to explore the eligibility rule that has served Ireland well over the years. However, many League of Ireland fans have vented their anger that the talent available from their teams is consistently ignored in favour of lower league players or English-born players. After their European exploits, Gary Rogers, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan all received
After their European exploits, Gary Rogers, Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan all received call-ups, but were not capped. Many young domestic players will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Boyle and Horgan by earning a call up while playing in Ireland.
It is important to recognise that this is not a League of Ireland XI but rather a team of individuals that could potentially break into the Ireland squad down the line.
Michael Schlingermann (Sligo Rovers)
The Mayo man who was born to German parents bounced back from relegation with Drogheda United to nail down the goalkeeping position for Sligo Rovers. The 25-year-old is an agile keeper who is strong under crosses and commanding in the box. Although Gary Rogers earned an Ireland call-up last year, Schlingermann is perhaps a better all-round keeper and a younger option.
Sean Gannon (Dundalk)
One of Dundalk’s standout players in their Europa League campaign and a consistent performer in their back to back league titles. Gannon is a composed player who is capable of bursting forward. His slight build could count against him but his calmness is something that is required at international level. A move across the water could be in the pipeline for Gannon as well as international recognition.
Sean Heaney (Shamrock Rovers)
20-year-old Heaney burst onto the scene with Rovers last season with some physically imposing performances. A threat in the box and a difficult defender to beat, Heaney earned a call-up to the Ireland under-21s at the end of the League of Ireland season.
Capable at right-back, Heaney is comfortable playing the ball out from the back which is a growing commodity in international football.
Sean Hoare (Dundalk)
Having been linked with a move to a host of British clubs, Hoare eventually moved to champions Dundalk as a replacement for Preston-bound Andy Boyle. Another under-21 international cap, Hoare is a tough-tackling centre-half. An athletic player, Hoare will hope to lead Dundalk to a third consecutive title and will hope to push on to full international honours.
Dane Massey (Dundalk)
Former Cherry Orchard man Massey has been long tipped for an international call-up. Left back is one of Ireland’s problem positions and the Dubliner didn’t look out of place on the European stage. Massey is an attacking full back with quick feet and a good delivery, and could very well serve as a decent backup for Martin O’Neill. However at 28, Massey would want to be making a breakthrough sooner rather than later.
Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers)
Connolly’s potential was first spotted by Mick McCarthy who brought him to Ipswich from Shelbourne. Unfortunately, things did not work out at Portman Road but Connolly has proven his worth at Bray. A mercurial and technically gifted winger, Connolly was widely tipped as a replacement for Daryl Horgan at Dundalk and will hope to follow in the Galweigen’s footsteps into the Ireland set up.
Aaron McEneff (Derry City)
Having been released by Spurs following an injury-hit spell, MeEneff has enjoyed a productive period with hometown club Derry. The 21-year old has been capped at underage level for Northern Ireland but has been expected to switch allegiances to the Republic. He is a combative midfielder with tremendous technical ability, capable of breaking up play and retaining position.
Greg Bolger (Cork City)
Like Massey, Bolger’s international window could be narrowing at 28. However, the Wexford native possesses all the attributes needed for an international footballer. A box-to-box player, Bolger demonstrated in last season’s Europa League qualifiers that he is capable of keeping a cool head on the ball and dictating the play. Stephen O’Donnell is another name that comes to mind in midfield but with Dundalk’s captain turning 31 this month, that ship may have sailed.
Stephen O’Donnell is another name that comes to mind in midfield but with Dundalk’s captain turning 31 this month, that ship may have sailed.
Chiedoze Ogbene (Cork City)
Having starred for Cork in their UEFA Youth campaign, Ogbene enjoyed a strong end to the season with the first team. A talented gaelic footballer with Nemo Rangers, Ogbene is an athletic player with tremendous skill and power. Yet to earn a place in Ireland underage set up, the 19-year-old could find himself in the senior set up in the coming years if his early promise continues.
Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers)
One of the League of Ireland’s most technically gifted players, Miele is a threat from set pieces and has a dangerous delivery as well as an ability to retain position and launch quick counter attacks. A product of the Newcastle United academy, Miele can play on either wing or in an advanced midfield role with his style bearing similarities to a young Wes Hoolahan.
Sean Maguire (Cork City)
With 28 goals last season, Maguire is one of the most prolific strikers available to Ireland. Having played and scored at under-21 level, Maguire has attracted overseas admirers but has opted to stay with Cork. With Martin O’Neill keen to explore the Granny Rule option when finding more striking options, a capable player could be a lot closer than he thinks, in Maguire.
SUBS: Mark McNulty (Cork) Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers) Alex O’Hanlon (St.Pats) Chris Shields (Dundalk) Kieran Sadlier (Sligo Rovers) Robbie Benson (Dundalk) Ishmahil Akinade (Bohemians)* David McMillan (Dundalk)
*Also eligible for Nigeria
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena