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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019

Do you agree with our all-time Irish Premier League XI?

As the Premier League officially turns 25, we look at some of the Boys in Green stars who have graced the top flight in recent years.

Shay Given makes our all-time Premier League Irish XI.
Shay Given makes our all-time Premier League Irish XI.
Image: EMPICS Sport

Shay Given: A straightforward choice, with over 400 appearances under his belt and two seasons in which he made the PFA Team of the Year, no Irish goalkeeper from the Premier League era has come close to matching Given’s achievements in the game.

Steve Finnan: By far, the toughest position to pick in this team. There are legitimate cases to be made for Stephen Carr, Gary Kelly and Seamus Coleman. In the end, Champions League winner Finnan edges it owing to the remarkable consistency he displayed over the years with Fulham, Liverpool and Portsmouth, gaining inclusion in the 2001-02 Premier League team of the year during his time at Craven Cottage.

Paul McGrath: Despite being 32 at the onset of the Premier League era, McGrath managed to make a substantial impact in the five seasons he spent in the league (four with Aston Villa and one at Derby). The highlight was unquestionably the inaugural 1992-93 season, where Villa’s title bid fell just short to Manchester United, with McGrath being named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year during a memorable campaign.

John O’Shea: A tough call for the second centre-back slot with O’Shea narrowly pipping Richard Dunne. When it comes to trophies, few Irish footballers can match O’Shea’s five Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and last but not least, a 2007-08 Champions League winners’ medal.

Denis Irwin: A consummate pro capable of playing in both full-back positions, as good going forward as he was defensively adept. Irwin was an underrated member of the United side that dominated the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, to the extent that he was one of just two Irish players to feature in our overall Premier League XI.

Jason McAteer: Ray Houghton is a strong contender for the right midfield slot, but McAteer just does enough to edge him out, as Houghton’s best years arguably came before the onset of the Premier League era. McAteer was an energetic presence in Roy Evans’ Liverpool that frequently threatened to challenge for the title but just came up short on more than one occasion. In total, he made over 100 appearances for Liverpool and also had some decent moments with Blackburn and Sunderland thereafter.

Roy Keane: A Man United legend and winner of seven league titles with the Red Devils, Keane also featured in the PFA Team of the Year on five occasions. He is not just the best Irish player of the Premier League era (and arguably ever), he is also one of the most influential players in the history of English football.

James McCarthy: A difficult choice between McCarthy and Andy Townsend, the former wins out by virtue of the fact that he has more Premier League appearances under his belt. Injuries have hampered him of late, but the Everton man has shown himself as being more than capable of holding his own in some big games in the past.

Damien Duff: Winner of two Premier League medals with Chelsea, Duff frequently dazzled during his three seasons with the Blues. While less successful in terms of trophies, his stints at Fulham and Blackburn contained plenty of memorable moments, and his difficult time at Newcastle was down to him being in the wrong place at the wrong time more than anything else.

Robbie Keane: With 126 goals, only 12 players have scored more in the history of the Premier League than Keane. The Dubliner is rightly regarded as a Tottenham legend owing to the feats he achieved at White Hart Lane. He enjoyed some fine moments at Coventry and Leeds too, while he was the victim of politics at boardroom level during a brief, ill-fated spell at Liverpool.

Niall Quinn: Along with Keane, the obvious choice up front. Quinn had four decent seasons with Man City in the Premier League, but he will be best remembered for his spell at Sunderland. 2000-01 was probably the highlight of his career, when his 14 goals in 37 matches helped the Black Cats to an impressive seventh-place finish.

Formation (4-4-2)


Finnan McGrath O’Shea Irwin

McAteer McCarthy Keane Duff

Keane Quinn

Subs: Dean Kiely, Richard Dunne, Seamus Coleman, Steve Staunton, Andy Townsend, Ray Houghton, Shane Long.

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Paul Fennessy

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