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Ranking Ireland's 5 best players at Euro 2016

Seamus Coleman and others who impressed in France this summer.

Updated at 11.12

5. Darren Randolph

Italy v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade Pierre Mauroy Source: Chris Radburn

MADE A COUPLE of excellent saves and was solid throughout the tournament. Randolph was one of just four Ireland players to play every minute of competitive action in France, along with Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick and Seamus Coleman. At 29, he is still relatively young for a goalkeeper, and may well be Ireland’s net minder for years to come, although the Bray native could do with more game time at West Ham, where he is currently the second-choice stopper behind Adrián.

4. Wes Hoolahan

France v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Lyon Source: Pavel Golovkin

Granted, he only started two of the four games, but Hoolahan was still key to Ireland as an attacking force. His man-of-the-match performance against Sweden felt like the culmination of belated recognition for a player who has been ignored all too often by Ireland up until recently.

Moreover, you won’t see a better cross in this tournament than the one the Norwich star produced for Robbie Brady’s winner against Italy. At 34, the former Shelbourne midfielder may now decide it is time to hang up his international boots along with other experienced players, which would be a shame, as the crafty playmaker has been a key figure for his country since Martin O’Neill took over as manager.

3. Seamus Coleman

France v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Lyon Source: Chris Radburn

Produces that the kind of consistent performances that warrant comparisons to fine Irish full-backs of the past such as Steve Finnan and Denis Irwin, Coleman looks set to assume the Ireland captaincy on a permanent basis provided Robbie Keane and John O’Shea retire as expected.

The one ever-present in Ireland’s back four, the Donegal native’s defensive instincts helped Ireland earn a clean sheet against Italy, while his calmness on the ball and impressive technical ability are further important aspects of his game. A quiet man off the field, according to Martin O’Neill, the Everton star can be loud when he wants to be, however, as he supposedly demonstrated with an inspirational speech prior to the Italy triumph.

2. Robbie Brady

France v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Round of 16 - Stade de Lyon Source: Thibault Camus

Barring the Belgium debacle, Brady was excellent in every Euro 2016 match for Ireland. His early penalty against France saw him become the first Irish player to score twice at the European Championships, while his thrilling late headed goal against Italy epitomised the courage, bravery and class that Ireland displayed in abundance on that unforgettable night in Lille.

Having been relegated from the Premier League with Norwich at the end of the most recent campaign, a much-talked-about imminent return to the top flight surely beckons.

1. Jeff Hendrick

Italy v Republic of Ireland - UEFA Euro 2016 - Group E - Stade Pierre Mauroy Source: John Walton

It’s arguably not since Roy Keane retired that an Irish central midfielder gave a performance with as much power, authority and poise in such a high-stakes game than the one Jeff Hendrick managed against Italy.

The Irish midfielder was also superb in the Sweden game, and while, like everyone else in the team, he struggled to make an impact against Belgium and France, his eagerness to play on with a dead leg in the latter match emphasised his unfailing commitment to the cause.

The 24-year-old also had a freshness about him that was perhaps partially attributable to the fact that injuries and strong competition for first-team places meant he had a shorter season and ran up less miles on the clock than most. In total with Derby in the most recent Championship campaign, Hendrick completed 90 minutes just 14 times out of the Rams’ 48 league matches (including the play-offs).

In addition, like Brady, the Dubliner will surely be playing Premier League football sooner rather than later, with Everton, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace among the clubs recently linked with his signature.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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