With the imminent signing of Jon Walters, Burnley are set to take their Irish international contingent to five later this week.
The forward joins compatriots Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Kevin Long and Stephen Ward at Turf Moor, as Sean Dyche goes about building the most Irish side in the Premier League.
One division below them, and on a similar mission it would seem, are Preston North End. The Lilywhites will be adding Cork City duo Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor to their ranks later this month, and despite losing Aiden McGeady this summer they still have the likes of Daryl Horgan to call upon to ensure that the Irish flag is still waving.
At this point, the two clubs are just about able to field a combined Irish eleven between them, and a pretty strong one at that.
Alan Kelly (Preston (Goalkeeping Coach))
Admittedly, starting off with a 48-year-old goalkeeper isn’t ideal, but until one of the two clubs signs an Irish goalkeeper, Kelly will have to do a job in this team. Kelly picked up 34 caps for Ireland across a nine-year spell, and made 142 appearances for Preston before rejoining them in 2013 as their goalkeeping coach, a role he also had as part of the Irish backroom staff before the appointment of Martin O’Neill.
Greg Cunningham (Preston)
Kevin Long (Burnley)
Andy Boyle (Preston)
Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Having a right-back on the left isn’t particularly ideal either, but Greg Cunningham has played there before (granted it hasn’t gone well for him) and can do so again. The centre of defence is that bit more settled with recently capped Irish internationals Andy Boyle and Kevin Long taking the spots.
Stephen Ward on the left, meanwhile, has improved dramatically in the past year or so – though would do well to look over his shoulder at Kevin O’Connor behind him, both in this hypothetical situation and in real life.
Daryl Horgan (Preston)
Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)
Alan Browne (Preston)
Robbie Brady (Burnley)
In Daryl Horgan and Robbie Brady, Preston and Burnley between them possess two bright young wingers with big futures in the game. One is already an established member of Ireland’s starting lineup and the other is well on his way to joining him.
In the centre, meanwhile, Jeff Hendrick has bags of talent but needs to rediscover his pre-Euro 2016 form, while Alan Browne has just broken into the international setup after a strong season at Deepdale.
Jonathan Walters (Burnley)
Sean Maguire (Preston)
Sean Maguire and Jonathan Walters haven’t joined their new clubs yet but Irish fans are already excited to see how the new season plays out for these two. Many would already like to see this as Ireland’s first choice striker partnership and while Martin O’Neill had been wholly reluctant to consider calling Maguire up to the Ireland squad while he has been at Cork City, his move to the Championship should finally earn him a place in that squad.
On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast we dissected Bray Wanderers’ perilous financial situation with Cormac Byrne of the Irish Mirror, and caught up with Bohemians’ Keith Ward to discuss both his and his team’s fine league form.