Some of the league’s finest talents have been recognised at international level in the past. However, here we have decided to take a look at some of the best players this league has produced who never managed to gain international recognition, despite being key members of successful squads.
5. Michael Devine
Cobh native, Devine was a renowned shot-stopper and was as solid as a rock behind his defence. The 41-year-old played for Cobh Ramblers and Waterford United in his time but he will be most fondly remembered for his stint with Cork City between 2000 and 2008.
Devine won the Premier Division with the Rebel Army in 2005 as well as the SWAI’s Goalkeeper of the Year award. Further success came in the form of the 2007 FAI Cup as well as the Setanta Sports Cup in 2008.
He may be a bit of a wildcard but we believe Devine would have made a great replacement for Given had he come a generation later.
4. Killian Brennan
Although his best days may now be beyond him at the age of 30, Brennan is one of the most naturally gifted midfielders to grace the League of Ireland.
His ability to pick a pass from any angle as well as pop up with a goal or two means Brennan is deserving of far more international recognition than just the underage honours bestowed to him.
The Drogheda native has tasted success, particularly with Derry and Bohemians in his time, and most recently at St Pat’s where he won the FAI Cup this year and the League of Ireland last season.
He will never be considered the greatest winger Ireland has ever produced but we felt Brennan deserved a cap or two at least in his time.
3. George O’Callaghan
If there was ever a player that could be described as Marmite, O’Callaghan would be that player. Revered and ridiculed in equal measure. However, O’Callaghan always added a sense of occasion whenever he walked out onto a league of Ireland ground, whether that be with Cork City, Dundalk or Waterford United.
O’Callaghan possessed a natural talent in central midfield, dictating play and always having enough time to use his brilliant feet to play his way out of trouble.
His natural skill and set-piece ability made him stand out on the pitch and earned him a move from Cork City to Ipswich following the Leesiders’ 2005 Premier Division title win. This however, was still not enough to put ‘Georgie’ on the Irish national team’s radar.
Moves to and from England and Ireland followed, as well as a move to a Brunei club called DPMM F.C. According to his Twitter account he is now the general manager/team manager of Sabah FA. A side competing in Malaysia’s football league.
2. Mark Farren
Mark Farren will be most fondly remembered by the Derry City faithful for his time there between 2003 and 2012. During this period his goalscoring record was outstanding. It reads – 313 appearances, 113 goals scored.
The Premier Division eluded Farren and Derry in his nine year stay with the Candystripes but he did taste success in the FAI Cup, winning the title in 2006 and 2012. He also helped Derry to five League Cup triumphs as well as winning the First Division in 2010.
Farren is one of the league’s greats, overcoming serious health issues to become Derry’s top scorer in 2012 . We believe his goalscoring ability with Derry shouldn’t have gone unnoticed on the international stage in his nine year career with the Candystripes.
The goalscoring maestro has recently been inducted into the FAI Ford Cup Final Hall of Fame. An honour deserving of such a revered striker.
Deadly in front of goal:
1. Owen Heary
The recently appointed Sligo Rovers manager has had an illustrious playing career in which he was pivotal to his team’s successes, therefore we believe Heary should be a recognised international. Heary’s personal accolades extend as far back as the 2001/02 season in which the 38-year-old managed to win the PFAI Players’ Player of the Year award.
Heary not only received personal awards, but tasted success at almost every club he played for. After leaving Kilkenny for Home Farm in 1994, he helped them to a First Division Shield in 1998.
The tireless right-back then moved onto Shelbourne where he won five league titles, one FAI Cup and another Player of the Year accolade as well as countless unforgettable nights in European.
Wherever Heary went, success followed as he won a further two Premier Division titles, a League Cup, FAI Cup and Setanta Sports Cup with Bohemians.
Now Heary enters a fresh challenge in management as he will aim to bring Sligo Rovers back to within reach of becoming title challengers once again.
There we have it. It was a tough one to call and there were a few unlucky to miss out, including a few from last year’s brilliant LOI season.
Who do you think we should have in the top five? Is there anyone we’re missing? Do let us know by commenting below or via Twitter/Facebook.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena
Read More About: bohemians, Cork City FC, derry city fc, Dundalk, george o'callaghan, killian brennan, League of Ireland news, loi, loi news, LOI Premier Division, mark farren, michael devine, owen heary, shelbourne, St Pats