Best Irish Football Players Ever: 40-31
Part three of GreenScene’s Best Irish Footballers of All Time list looks at numbers 40 to 31. To qualify players had to be senior Republic of Ireland internationals. Everyone will have their own opinions on who was the best, and who was over- or underrated, so once it’s all over (on Friday 11th March), we’re opening up our own ballot boxes to let you decide, compiling a Readers’ Greatest Ever Republic of Ireland Footballers list.
|39. John O’Shea
Mister Versatility, John O’Shea is known for his ability to play in a number of positions, including one cameo role in goal for Man Utd. A member of Brian Kerr’s Euro Under 16 winners in 1994, the defender played at Ireland at all underage levels. O’Shea didn’t have the best of starts in a green jersey, coming on as a substitute for Gary Kelly against Croatia and giving away an injury time penalty. Don Givens gave him his first start against Greece, and since then, he has been heavily involved in all Ireland’s qualifying campaigns. He build a strong partnership in the middle with Richard Dunne, but under Giovanni Trapattoni has been used as a right back.
|38. Ian Harte
For some people, Ian Harte was sometimes seen as a weak link in the Irish side of the early 00s. However, with twelve goals from left back, he’s Ireland’s tenth highest goalscorer ever. His ability to curl a free kick is still phenomenal, even as he heads for his 34th birthday, while his career is staging a comeback with Reading. Scored the opening goal at Lansdowne against Iran, which helped Ireland qualify for our first tournament in eight years, and started all four games at World Cup 2002.
|37. Kevin Doyle
Going by when he made his debut, Kevin Doyle is the most recent player on this entire list, but deserves his inclusion thanks to the fantastic partnership he has formed with record goalscorer Robbie Keane. A strong forward, who is great in the air (partly thanks to his background playing GAA for Wexford), Doyle has a knack for scoring important goals, including the winner against Slovakia, openers against Cyprus and Georgia, and strikes which gave Ireland the lead against Wales and Slovakia. At the recent FAI Awards, he was named Ireland’s Player of the Year for 2010, and few would be against him holding on to the title for this year.
|36. John Sheridan
Although none of his goals could be considered to have been the decider in any competitive game, John Sheridan’s strike against Bolivia in a 1-0 friendly victory in 1994 was the 100th ever Irish goal at Lansdowne Road. During the eight years, Sheridan played for Ireland, he controlled the game from midfield, and impressed Jack Charlton enough for the boss to start him in all of our games at World Cup 1994, even though Sheridan had started none of the qualifiers. He hit the bar against Italy in the opener, but more importantly, his late goal after coming on as a substitute in the qualifiers against Spain, making the score 3-1 rather than 3-0, meant that Ireland qualified for the USA on goal difference. He was again a starter for Euro 96 qualifying, but retired gracefully after the playoff defeat to Holland.
|35. Jimmy Dunne
Arguably Ireland’s greatest ever pre-war footballer, free-scoring forward Jimmy Dunne had just played eight games for New Brighton AFC in the Third Division when he was snapped up by First Division side Sheffield United, staying there for eight seasons, in four of which he was top scorer. In 1930/31 he scored 41 league and 9 cup goals, still the record for the most in one season from an Irishman. Internationally, he played for both IFA and FAI teams, scoring 4 in 7 for the “Ireland” side. He played 15 games for the Irish Free State team, netting 13 goals, including two against Norway in a thrilling 3-3 World Cup Qualifier.
|34. Joe Kinnear
More better known now as an outspoken manager, Joe Kinnear was a fantastic defender in the late 60s and early 70s. A UEFA Cup winner with Spurs, his finest moment in a green shirt came when he crossed the ball for Don Givens’ opener against the Soviet Union in 1974. Short, quick, and excellent in the tackle, Kinnear was fantastic going forward, and was one of the best full-backs to play for Ireland.
|33. Tony Galvin
Bought by Tottenham Hotpsur in 1978, Tony Galvin came from non-league obscurity with Goole Town to play over 200 First Division games with Spurs, lift two FA Cups, and the UEFA Cup in 1984. Although born in Huddersfield and having represented England’s Schools Team, he went on to play 29 times for Ireland, becoming first choice left-winger under Jack Charlton. He scored his only international goal in Euro 88 qualifiers, and started all three of Ireland’s games in the finals.
|32. Richard Dunne
A colossus in defence, Richard Dunne was Ireland’s third choice defender under Mick McCarthy and Brian Kerr, but has been a constant starter in the last three campaigns. Partnering either John O’Shea or most recently Sean St. Ledger, Dunne has been a commanding presence on and off the field. A fantastic header of the ball, Dunne is always a threat from set-pieces, scoring home and away against both Estonia and Bulgaria in 2002 and 2010 qualifiers respectively.
|31. Gerry Daly
Dublin born Gerry Daly was an attacking midfielder who made his Irish debut in 1973, the same year he joined Tommy Docherty’s Manchester United, helping them avoid relegation. He became an Ireland regular under Johnny Giles, and scored a memorable goal in a 1-1 draw against England in Euro 80 qualification. Always looking to get on the balland go forward, Daly was a constant threat from midfield. His 79th minute equaliser against Holland in World Cup 82 qualifiers paved the way for a famous fightback, with Ireland coming out 2-1 victors.