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7 great Irish contributions to League Cup finals

Sunderland captain John O’Shea will seek to follow the example of these talented Irishmen.

SUNDERLAND CAPTAIN JOHN O’SHEA will hope to emulate the match-winning achievements of the Irish players such as John Sheridan and Ronnie Whelan in today’s League Cup final.

A host of Irishmen have taken part in the competition since its inception in 1961. O’Shea has featured in two finals with Manchester United and leads the Black Cats against Manchester City at Wembley this afternoon. Here are the Irish players that made an impact the the cup of many names.

Terry Conroy (Stoke — 1972)

Three decades before Rory Delap was causing similar set-piece mayhem, Conroy pounced on a flicked on throw-in to put the Potters ahead against Chelsea. Peter Osgood equalised but George Eastham got the winner for Stoke.

Soccer - Football League Cup - Final - Stoke City v Chelsea Stoke City's Terry Conroy celebrates scoring the opening goal with teammates Jimmy Greenhoff and Dennis Smith. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Ronnie Whelan (Liverpool — 1982 & 83)

Having scored two goals in the 3-1 win over Spurs in 1982, Whelan came up with the goods again. His curling effort was the clincher in a 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester United.

Source: SouthAfricared

Ray Houghton (Oxford United — 1986)

The Scottish-born Ireland midfielder played a starring role in Town’s 3-0 triumph over Queens Park Rangers. Oxford also had Dave Langan and John Aldridge in their starting line-up.

Soccer - Milk Cup Final - Queens Park Rangers v Oxford United Houghton objects to some close treatment from QPR's Terry Fenwick. Source: EMPICS Sport

John Sheridan (Sheffield Wednesday — 1991)

The midfielder stunned Alex Ferguson’s side with a 37th minute goal that brought the cup back to Sheffield with the Owls.

Source: 1969owl

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Paul McGrath (Aston Villa — 1994)

Manchester United were the victims again as McGrath played a stormer in the Villa defence. Ron Atkinson led his Villa team to a 3-1 win with McGrath stonewalling the best efforts Andrei Kanchelskis, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona could throw at him.

Source: barbarian981

Speaking to RTÉ Radio earlier this year, McGrath revealed that United boss Alex Ferguson broke a five-year silence with him post-match. “We beat Manchester United at Wembley in the League Cup final and that’s the first time he came up to me. He gave me a belt in the stomach — a little too hard but luckily I was tensed up — and he shook my hand and said ‘well done son’.”

David Kelly (Tranmere — 2000)

14 years after winning the cup as an Oxford player, Aldridge managed the Tranmere side that faced Martin O’Neill’s Leicester City in the final. David Kelly, his old international teammate, scored Tranmere’s equaliser [go to 1:35] but Matt Elliott headed his second goal to snatch victory for City.

Source: TodayInFootball

Damien Duff (Blackburn Rovers — 2002)

No goals for Duffer but the winger mesmerised the Spurs defence as Rovers won 2-1. Duff was denied by a brilliant Neil Sullivan save in the first-half and created numerous chances for strikers Matt Jansen, Mark Hughes and Andrew Cole.

Blackburn Andy Cole Andtrew Cole celebrates his goal with Damien Duff. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Dubliner was a stand-out player for Chelsea in their 3-2 extra time win over Liverpool three years later.

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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