While Irish players in the Premier League have, in general, had mixed seasons, when it comes to scoring goals they are now seriously lagging behind.
The days of Robbie Keane scoring for fun in England are long gone, and the successors to his crown have not been living up to his standard. The national side’s lack of prolific forward options has been fully reflected in the Premier League, with just 19 goals coming from Irish players this season.
Coleman and Walters lead the Irish scorers in the Premier League with 4 goals. Just 19 goals for Irish players, lowest this century. pic.twitter.com/xnOsXV7z0x
— Nathan Murphy (@nathanmurf) May 21, 2017
To add context to that, there were 31 Irish goals last season, 23 in 2014/15, and 30 in 2013/14. (The heady days of Kene scoring 15 or 16 goals per season on his own are long gone.) In fact, not since the 16 amassed in 1998/99, with Ian Harte as top scorer, have the numbers been so low.
Disregarding the fact that Ireland’s joint-top scorer this year is a right-back that hasn’t played since the end of March for a second, the most obvious glaring figure to come out from that list is that Shane Long has scored just three goals all season. Martin O’Neill’s first-choice forward, and the man whose fitness many are sweating over ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Austria next month, has scored just three league goals all season.
With Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini (and perhaps even Jay Rodriguez) ahead of him in the Southampton pecking order, Long may have to leave St. Mary’s this summer if he wants to get back among the goals.
Daryl Murphy, Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy are all set to add to the Irish contingent next season as their clubs achieved promotion from the Championship (with Reading’s Paul McShane and Liam Kelly potentially joining them depending on the playoff final), but those three are unlikely to be among the goals in the top flight next season.
With goals in the Premier League drying up, it’s imperative that O’Neill looks further afield. He has welcomed Aberdeen’s Adam Rooney into the fold, but these latest figures are only likely to increase the calls to consider Cork City’s Sean Maguire and/or Cillian Sheridan of Jagiellonia for future squads.