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The Greatest Irish XI To Play In The Premier League

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It’s Paddy’s Day. We’re wearing our green socks, singing ditties and doing a bit of a jig in the office. We got the cans of Guinness out this morning and given the day in question, we started shouting at each other about the greatest Irish players ever to play in the Premier League. 

So, after much debate (and just a few digs thrown), here’s our list of the greatest Paddies ever to play across the water.

Selection Criteria: All players must have played at least fifty top flight games since the Premier League’s establishment in 1992. That means the likes of Gilesy, Brady, and of course, Paul Green, miss out.


GK – Shay Given

Well, this was easy. Given’s career has sort of petered out in recent years but by God what a keeper. In his prime, Given could have stopped a postman from delivering his letters.


RB – Steve Finnan

Well, this one caused some debate. It was between Finnan and Seamus Coleman. After some research we learned that Finnan is the only player to have played in the World Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, all four levels of the English league football and the Football Conference. He also has a Champions League medal and played in two finals.

So long Seamus, Finnan wins this battle.


CB – John O’Shea

This one caused a bit of a stir. It was between Super Dunne and Good Old John O. John O took it based on his incredible list of honours; five Premier League Medals, a Champions League and a FIFA Club World Cup to name a few.

O’Shea made over 250 appearances for Manchester United, is already closing in on 100 Premier League appearances for Sunderland and he’s been a stalwart in the national side since 2001.

He also scored the winner in Ireland’s historic 1-1 victory over the Germans.



CB – Paul McGrath

One of Ireland’s greatest sporting heroes of all time and up there with Roy Keane as the greatest footballer the Emerald Isle has ever produced.

Plagued by problems off the pitch, McGrath will always be remembered for his performances on it. Ooh, ah. Paul McGrath.


LB – Denis Irwin

As easy as selecting Given in goal, Denis Irwin simply picked himself.

Seven Premier League Medals, three FA Cups and a Champions League. Hands down the best left back Ireland has ever seen and often considered the best left back the Premier League has ever seen, full stop. Denny Irwin, we salute you.


DM – Roy Keane

Let’s not talk about Saipan. Setting the controversial character aside, Roy Keane is arguably the greatest sportsman Ireland has ever produced. We won’t even get into his individual honours, instead we’ll quote a man who is no longer on speaking terms with Keano.

“If I was putting Roy Keane out there to represent Manchester United on a one against one, we’d win the derby, the national, the boat race and anything else.” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

More than anything else, Roy Keane was a winner.


LM – Kevin Kilbane

Zinedine Kilbane. Probably not the most razzle dazzle selection in the bunch but a legend nonetheless. Over 15 years in the Premier League and 110 caps for Ireland, Kilbane would get up and down that left flank like a bride’s nightie.


RM – Seamus Coleman

Without question Ireland’s greatest representation in the Premier League at present, Coleman was named on the PFA Team of the Year last season.

We couldn’t fit him in at right back so we shuffled the formation around to get him in on the wing. No matter the position, we’re pretty sure he’d do a job.


CAM – Damien Duff

The Duffer. We went for a bit of a diamond formation with this XI. Kilbane and Coleman will be bombing down the wings so Duff will fill the pocket.

Currently playing in Australia, it’s been confirmed that the Dubliner will be returning to play in the League of Ireland this coming summer. We can’t wait.


CF – Robbie Keane

Ireland’s all-time top scorer and still banging them in for LA Galaxy. Enough said.


CF – Niall Quinn

Over 475 club appearances and only outscored by Robbie Keane as Ireland’s all time top scorer, the team wouldn’t have been complete without the big man up top.


Honourable Mention 

We wanted to put a few in here but after some consideration, we only picked one. Richard Dunne.

We would follow ‘The Honey Monster’ into the depths of hell. Superman. Super Dunne. Who will ever forget that performance against Russia? Pundit certainly won’t. It broke our hearts that we couldn’t fit you in.


This Cult XI was compiled by John Murphy, Richard Barrett and Rob Lyons. Please forward all complaints to

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Author: The PA Team

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