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Do you agree with our writers' all-time Ireland XIs?
Liam Brady, Roy Keane and Paul McGrath are among those to feature.

EARLIER IN THE week, Liam Brady, in an appearance on Second Captains Live, made the controversial decision to remove Roy Keane from ‘The Good Wall’ and replace him with John Giles.

The decision stirred up plenty of debate, not least in office.

Consequently, we’ve decided to pick our all-time Ireland XIs in a bid to definitively separate the good Irish footballers from the great ones.

So here are the teams that our writers ultimately came up with…

Steve O’Rourke

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Playing a traditional 4-4-2, this XI supports attacking creativity on a foundation of defensive invulnerability. The likes of Mick McCarthy and Ronnie Whelan could probably feel hard done by but I’d fancy this side to beat anyone, especially with the little ‘un/big ‘un combination up front.

Shay Given
Denis Irwin Paul McGrath Richard Dunne Steve Staunton
Ray Houghton Roy Keane Johnny Giles Liam Brady
Robbie Keane Niall Quinn

Eoin O’Callaghan

Soccer - International Friendly - Republic of Ireland v Argentina - Aviva Stadium PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In theory, I don’t like naming a Best XI and including players I haven’t seen play.

But, for the purposes of this assignment and the general dearth of brilliant players Ireland have had during my lifetime, some just had to be included. Everyone is aware of the immense contributions made by Giles and Brady but other figures like Noel Cantwell and Johnny Carey were immense characters. They may not have the cap-count that other less-decorated players have but quality over quantity everytime. There’s a stylish central defensive pairing while the midfield speaks for itself.

The attack is a different beast. I wanted to allow Keane & Giles the space to dictate a game so have gone with a 4-2-3-1 with Houghton and Sheedy providing some width and Brady given the freedom to combine with a young, fresh and willing Robbie Keane.

Shay Given

Noel Cantwell
Johnny Carey
Paul McGrath
Denis Irwin

Roy Keane
John Giles

Ray Houghton
Kevin Sheedy
Liam Brady

Robbie Keane

Paul Fennessy

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Shay Given gets in just ahead of Pat Bonner in goals. Defence was particularly tricky to choose, with Steve Staunton, Dave O’Leary and Richard Dunne among those unlucky to miss out.

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Three out of four midfielders are straightforward enough picks, with Giles, Brady and Keane almost impossible to leave out, while Ronnie Whelan gets the fourth spot, ahead of other once-great players including Damien Duff and Ray Houghton.

Robbie Keane deserves to be up front for his phenomenal goalscoring record alone, while Frank Stapleton joins him, despite stiff competition from the likes of Niall Quinn, John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino.

Shay Given

Finnan McGrath Lawrenson Irwin

Giles Ronnie Whelan Roy Keane Brady

Robbie Keane Stapleton

Sean Farrell

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My team is gonna play ball. That’s why I’ve sacrificed some of the blood and thunder you might get with the Honey Monster in favour of the out-and-out comfort on the ball you get with Irwin, O’Shea and Staunton.

The midfield trip is pretty much inter-changeable and would pin defences into their own box mercilessly until they crack. While the 4-5-1 formation lacks a target man up top, Damien Duff is sure to win a ton of free kicks which Dinny and Stan can fight over/come to a sensible decision based on the best angle for their strong foot.

                              Shay Given

Denis Irwin (Capt.) Paul McGrath John O’Shea Steve Staunton

                       Roy Keane  Liam Brady

Ray Houghton            John Giles              Damien Duff

                                  Robbie Keane

Will Slattery

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Robbie Keane tells us constantly he can’t play on his own so I’ve gone for the classic big man/little man combo that should ensure we score many goals just like Ireland did against Germany in 2002. Omitting Roy Keane is a big call, but I like the balance that Whelan and Giles provide, and Roy wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

Irwin McGrath Dunne Staunton
Brady Giles Ronnie Whelan Duff
Robbie Keane Quinn

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