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Player ratings: How Ireland’s footballers got on at club level in 2016

The performance over the past 12 months of Seamus Coleman and others are assessed.

N.B. FOR THE purposes of brevity, this list has been restricted to players who are either in or close to the Ireland squad.

The ratings are based on club form and are relative to the player in question’s division etc.


Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League - Anfield Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Darren Randolph: Has had to be patient for a long time playing back up to Adrian at West Ham, but has largely performed well having finally managed to establish himself as a first-team regular with the Hammers. 8/10

David Forde: The 37-year-old goalkeeper’s Ireland days look all but over. After losing his place at Millwall, he has had to go down to League Two to get regular first-team football at Portsmouth. 6/10

Rob Elliot: The 30-year-old endured a largely miserable 2016, as he is still recovering from an injury suffered during the Ireland-Slovakia friendly last March. There were a few reasons to be cheerful though — Elliot was still named Newcastle’s player of the season and he signed a new contract with the club back in September. n/a

Keiren Westwood: Earned a deserved place in the EFL Team of the Year thanks to some outstanding displays between the posts for Sheffield Wednesday this year. 9/10

Stephen Henderson: The season started promisingly for Henderson after the 28-year-old joined Nottingham Forest in the summer following Charlton’s relegation from the Championship, but after the club signed Serbia international goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic at the end of August, the Dubliner has largely been second choice. 6/10

Colin Doyle: Endured a disappointing end to last season as Blackpool were relegated, but joined Bradford in the summer. He has been performing solidly for the League One outfit and was handed a surprise recall to the Ireland squad by Martin O’Neill ahead of the trip to Austria. 7/10

Ian Lawlor: Impressed while on loan at League One side Bury last season, but injuries have meant the 22-year-old Man City stopper has not played a minute of senior action anywhere this season. n/a

Danny Rogers: Granted, the Scottish Championship is not a particularly high standard, but Aberdeen player Rogers has excelled at this level while on loan at Falkirk, featuring in the second tier’s team of the season last year. Moreover, Martin O’Neill appears to be taking some notice of his performances, as he made the Irish squad for the recent qualifiers against Georgia and Moldova. 8/10


Everton v Arsenal - Premier League - Goodison Park Source: Peter Byrne

Seamus Coleman: While Everton haven’t always been particularly impressive in recent months, Coleman has consistently been one of their best players and few would disagree that he’s the most impressive Irish footballer in the Premier League right now. 8/10

John O’Shea: At 35, he won’t be in the game too much longer, but it’s a testament to O’Shea’s professionalism that he continues to be an important part of a side playing at Premier League level. 7/10

Richard Keogh: Remains a virtual ever present at the heart of the Derby defence, though the 30-year-old will have been frustrated with a year that saw the Rams fall at the playoff hurdle once again. 7/10

Marc Wilson: Has yet to really get going after a much-needed £2 million move from Stoke to Bournemouth in August, though injuries have restricted him to just two EFL Cup appearances since then. n/a

Ciaran Clark: Endured a demoralising season last year, as Villa were relegated from the Premier League, though Clark has done well since moving to Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle, featuring regularly at the heart of the defence, and given the Magpies’ highly encouraging start to the campaign, he is likely to be a Premier League player again this time next year. 8/10

Stephen Ward: It was around this time last year that the 31-year-old full-back established himself as a regular in the Burnley side and the Dubliner has rarely looked back since, helping the Clarets win promotion to the Premier League and retaining his first-team spot ever since. 8/10

Greg Cunningham: A decent alternative to Ward at left-back for Ireland, Cunningham was Preston’s player of the season last year and continues to be an important component of their side. 8/10

Andy Boyle: One of the League of Ireland’s best players in the most recent campaign and looked very much at home playing for Dundalk in the Europa League as well. It will therefore be interesting to see whether Boyle can continue such excellence having just signed for Preston. 9/10

John Egan: Was a key player for Gillingham before joining Championship side Brentford, where he has continued to excel. Moreover, Egan was recently named in the EFL Team of 2016. 9/10

Cyrus Christie: Had been performing solidly for Derby, though the 24-year-old picked up an ankle injury at the start of November and has been out of action since.  7/10

Alex Pearce: Many were beginning to question Pearce’s place in the Ireland squad after the centre-back endured a difficult time on loan at Bristol City last season, though the 28-year-old has been better since the beginning of the current campaign, establishing himself as a regular in Derby’s defence alongside Keogh. 7/10

Paul McShane: A consistent starter for a Reading team currently third in the Championship, despite missing out on a place in the Euros squad, McShane has plenty of reasons for optimism as he reflects on 2016. 7/10

Matt Doherty: Wolves’ player of the year for the 2015-16 campaign, 24-year-old Doherty is unfortunate to have two right-backs of the quality of Seamus Coleman and Cyrus Christie ahead of him in the pecking order at international level. 8/10

Shane Duffy: Gained a move to Brighton after some impressive displays for Blackburn, the 25-year-old centre-back has been excellent since moving to the Seagulls, who are currently top of the Championship. 9/10


Crystal Palace v Stoke City - Premier League - Selhurst Park Source: EMPICS Sport

Glenn Whelan: His limitations have been well documented, but Whelan is seldom given the respect that a player with 78 caps and over 200 Premier League appearances deserves. The 32-year-old Dubliner continues to defy doubters, as he remains a regular presence in the Stoke side, even if he’s approaching the twilight of his career. 7/10

James McCarthy: Persistent injuries and a drop in form in recent times have meant the 26-year-old risks being cast aside by Everton sooner rather than later. 6/10

Jeff Hendrick: His fantastic performances in the Euros helped earned Hendrick the Premier League move he badly needed, and the Dubliner has gone on to establish himself as a key player for Burnley, who are currently 11th in the Premier League. 8/10

James McClean: Has been particularly impressive for Ireland, and has generally done well for West Brom, yet has been out of the first XI of late, not starting a game for the Baggies since the 4-0 loss to Man City in October. 7/10

Jack Byrne: Stood out during an excellent stint at Dutch side Cambuur last season, but the Man City youngster has struggled to get a look in since moving on loan to Blackburn. He has not featured in a Championship match since August and the deal is expected to be cut short imminently. 6/10

Aiden McGeady: Had a disappointing loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday at the end of last season, though the situation has improved to a degree since the 30-year-old joined Preston in the summer. 6/10

Harry Arter: Arguably Ireland’s most in-form central midfielder in the Premier League right now, Arter impressed for Bournemouth on a regular basis in 2016. Having done well on his competitive debut for Ireland against Austria, more caps will surely follow. 8/10

Conor Hourihane: The Corkonian has been superb over the past 12 months, helping Barnsley win promotion to the Championship last season, and maintaining those high standards since, winning the division’s player of the month award for September. 9/10

Alan Judge: A very frustrating year for the Brentford player. Judge made his Ireland debut and looked set for a big move before a leg break in April ended his season prematurely. He has been making a gradual recovery since then, though the exact date of a first-team return remains uncertain. n/a

David Meyler: Helped Hull win promotion, and like Mike Phelan’s side, Meyler started off the Premier League campaign well, though has struggled for game time in recent weeks, with his side looking destined for a speedy return to the Championship. 6/10

Callum O’Dowda: Has impressed during sporadic appearances for Ireland and jumped up two divisions from Oxford to Championship side Bristol City in the summer, but has yet to make the desired impact at his new club, often having to be content with a place on the bench. 6/10

Stephen Gleeson: Has made over 100 appearances for Birmingham since joining the Championship side in 2014, the 28-year-old’s encouraging form has been recognised to a degree, as he’s at least on the periphery of the Ireland squad now. 7/10

Darron Gibson: Strangely signed a new contract with Everton in the summer, there remain concerns over Gibson’s fitness as he has yet to play a single minute of Premier League action this term. 5/10

Robbie Brady: Endured relegation with Norwich and found it especially difficult at the start of this season following an error-prone spell at left-back, but has improved since then and he is being linked with a Premier League return in January. 7/10

Daryl Horgan: Was a revelation for a Dundalk side that exceeded all expectations in 2016, securing a move to Preston in the process. It will be fascinating to see whether the Galway native can repeat such heroics in the Championship. 9/10

Chris Forrester: Has adapted to life in England seamlessly since moving to Peterborough from St Pat’s. The 24-year-old has already been made captain of the side, who are currently eighth in League One. 8/10

Stephen Quinn: A brief appearance in the Ireland-Italy game aside, 2016 wasn’t a great year for Quinn. The 30-year-old had to deal with injury problems and hasn’t always been an automatic pick for Jaap Stam’s Reading team. Indeed, the Dubliner last started a Championship game for his side on 13 September. 5/10

Jonny Hayes: A player of the season nominee last year, Hayes continues to be a key player for an Aberdeen side currently third in the Scottish Premiership. In recent days, he has been linked with a move to Championship side Cardiff, and should this transfer come to fruition, it would certainly do his Ireland prospects no harm. 8/10

Eunan O’Kane: Was deemed surplus to requirements at Bournemouth and joined Leeds in the summer transfer window. O’Kane started life at his new club well enough, though a groin injury picked up in November has restricted his game time of late. 6/10

Wes Hoolahan: At 34, Hoolahan has seen better days, but he continues to be an influential player for a Norwich side who will remain hopeful of securing at least a playoffs spot come the end of the season, with the ex-Shelbourne player starting most if not all of their games so far in the campaign. 8/10


Southampton v Newcastle United - Barclays Premier League - St Mary's Source: Clive Gee

Shane Long: Following an encouraging season last year in which Long reached double figures in terms of goals for the first time in a Premier League campaign, the 29-year-old Tipperary native has struggled since Claude Puel took charge in the summer, scoring just once for the Saints this season and often having to be content with a place on the bench. 7/10

Jon Walters: At 33, Walters is no longer a guaranteed starter for Stoke, and managed a disappointed tally of five Premier League goals in 2016, just two of which were scored this season. 6/10

Adam Rooney: Continues to score with relative regularity for Aberdeen in Scotland, with the 28-year-old managing 10 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions this season. He remains on the periphery of the Irish side, however, and you get the feeling that Martin O’Neill would need to see the forward perform at a higher level before rewarding him further. 8/10

Daryl Murphy: Wasn’t exactly in prolific form since at Ipswich, while his move to Newcastle back in August has yet to reap dividends, as he has played less than 90 minutes of action for the Magpies in the Championship, though injuries haven’t helped. 5/10

Kevin Doyle: Scored a couple of important goals for an impressive Colorado Rapids side who ultimately narrowly missed out on a place in the MLS Cup final. 7/10

David McGoldrick: Following a torrid time with injuries, McGoldrick has finally got a run of games together this season. Yet with just three goals in 15 appearances for a struggling Ipswich side, there is obvious room for improvement there. 6/10 

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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