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Selecting an All-Ireland XI from the O'Neills' Euro 2016 squads

Do you agree with our selection?

WITH THE EUROPEAN Championships getting underway on Friday, excitement is building ahead of the tournament opener.

Interest is piqued by the strong home nation representation with both the Republic and Northern Ireland flying the flag in France.

Here, we’ve decided to select a composite XI from the squads available to Martin and Michael O’Neill this month.

Our selection is sure to split opinion, so let us know who you would have in your side in the comments section below.

GK: Darren Randolph

Darren Randolph Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The West Ham goalkeeper has made the number one jersey his own under Martin O’Neill. After coming off the bench to replace Shay Given in the memorable win over Germany, Randolph has put in a string of confident and reliable performances en-route to France

RB: Seamus Coleman

Seamus Coleman Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Coleman is one of the first names on Martin O’Neill’s team-sheet with the Everton fullback a consistent performer for Republic of Ireland. Defensively he is solid while also offering a genuine attacking outlet going forward.

CB: Jonny Evans

Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly - Windsor Park Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Arguably the most important player in Northern Ireland’s squad heading to France, the three-time Premier League winner will need to use all his experience to lead from the front during the tournament.

Now with West Brom, Evans has been central to his side’s qualification for the tournament and has formed a solid partnership with Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart in defence.

CB: John O’Shea

John O’Shea reacts after thinking his side's goal had been disallowed Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

O’Shea’s game time over the last number of months has been limited and it’s widely acknowledged that this tournament could be the last we see of him in green. However, with 110 caps to his name he remains Martin O’Neill’s best option at centre back and is a real leader. Will bring a calm head to proceedings in the heat of battle.

LB: Robbie Brady

Robbie Brady Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

The Dubliner has developed into a crucial cog in the wheel having starred during the qualification campaign. His set-piece delivery, while sometimes hit and miss, will play a key role in Ireland’s plans. Operated further forward for Norwich last season and while he might be deployed on the left flank in France, Brady slots in at left-back for the purpose of this selection.

RM: Jon Walters

Jonathan Walters Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

One of the heroes of Republic of Ireland’s successful qualification bid, Walters is a key part of Martin O’Neill’s side. His all-energy, industrious and never-say-die attitude rubs off on those around him and Martin O’Neill will hope he can be a defender’s nightmare in France.

CM: Steven Davis

Slovakia v Northern Ireland - International Friendly - Antona Malatinskeho Stadium Source: JONATHAN BRADY

Davis has brought his club form with Southampton onto the international stage and has spearheaded Northern Ireland’s incredible revival from the engine room. Is arguably their most influential player, as well as captain, and his ability to get on the ball will be crucial to his team’s chances, particularly against Germany.

CM: James McCarthy

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James McCarthy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Everton midfielder splits opinion but he has been an ever present in the Republic of Ireland midfield and his worth was highlighted by Martin O’Neill’s willingness to bring him to France despite concerns over his fitness.

LM: Wes Hoolahan

Wes Hoolahan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

One of the few players in either squad with the capacity to unlock a defence, Hoolahan has to be accommodated in Martin O’Neill’s starting XI this summer. The Norwich play-maker is Republic of Ireland’s most creative operator and possesses the guile and craft others around him don’t have.

ST: Shane Long

Shane Long celebrates scoring their first goal Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

There’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of Shane Long, as he goes into Euro 2016 as a goalscorer in form. Had a career-best season with Southampton and he offers something different up front with his pace and work rate sure to cause defences trouble.

ST: Kyle Lafferty

EURO 2016 Group C Source: AP/Press Association Images

The striker has enjoyed an incredible return to form over the last 12 months and his seven goals in qualification helped Northern Ireland to their first major tournament since 1986. Not the most technically gifted but Lafferty has proved to be a player with an eye for goal.

*No players currently injured (i.e Chris Brunt) were available for selection. 

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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