St Patrick's Day: The Best XI of Irish Players to Ever Play in the Premier League


Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone!

Before sinking that obligatory Guinness, why not consider some of the greatest men from the island of Ireland to ever grace the Premier League?

Here’s an all-star XI that wouldn’t need to rely on the country’s legendary luck to get by…

11. GK: Shay Given

15 Jul 1997: Shay Given of Newcastle United covers his near post during the pre-season friendly against PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, Ireland. Given joined Newcastle in a 1.5 million pound transfer from Blackburn Rovers. Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport

40-year-old Given made over 400 Premier League appearances between his time with Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Stoke and is one of very few currently playing the league to have begun their careers in the 1990s.

The veteran stopper is also the Republic of Ireland’s second most capped player of all time.

10. RB: Seamus Coleman

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Cristhian Stuani of Middlesbrough and Seamus Coleman of Everton compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Middlesbrough and Everton at Riverside Stadium on February 11, 2017 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Current Republic of Ireland captain Seamus Coleman has been an Everton regular since his £60k transfer from Sligo Rovers in 2008 – a frankly incredible bargain.

Coleman remains of the Premier League’s most dangerous attacking full backs and has scored 18 goals in eight seasons at Goodison Park.

9. LB: Denis Irwin

16 Oct 1999: Dennis Irwin celebrates a goal from the Penalty spot during the FA Carling Premiership game against Watford at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. United won 4 - 1.  Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill /Allsport

Denis Irwin won a remarkable seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League during the Manchester United glory days, and remains one of his country’s most successful ever exports.

Irwin, a penalty specialist, featured in just shy of 300 Premier League games and although right-footed, more frequently played on the left side of Sir Alex Ferguson’s defence.

After leaving United in 2002, Cork-born Irwin also helped Wolves reach the top flight before retiring at the age of 38.

8. CB: Paul McGrath


Although he made the majority of his top flight appearances before the inception of the Premier League, Paul McGrath still merits inclusion for winning the PFA Player’s Player of the Year award in 1993.

The uncompromising centre back also picked up two League Cups with Aston Villa in the 1990s to add to the FA Cup with Man Utd, and even has the honour of being featured on an Irish postage stamp in 2002.

He is regarded as one of both Aston Villa and the Irish national team’s greatest ever defenders.

7. CB: Richard Dunne

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 06: Richard Dunne of Queens Park Rangers gives instructions during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Burnley at Loftus Road on December 6, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Richard Dunne holds the not-so-coveted records of being both the most sent off player in Premier League history (joint with Patrick Vieira and Duncan Ferguson) and the player with the most own goals.

Still, the Dublin-born former Everton, Manchester City, Aston Villa and QPR star is better defined by his record of 431 appearances in England’s top tier, his thirteen years with the national side and his towering aerial ability, which saw him register eight goals at international level.

6. RM: Keith Gillespie

12 Sep 1998: Keith Gillespie of Newcastle in action in the FA Carling Premiership match against Southampton at St James'' Park in Newcastle, England. Newcastle won the game 4-0.  Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport

One of the lesser remembered members of the fabled ‘Class of 92’, Keith Gillespie won the FA Youth Cup alongside David Beckham et al in 1992 before embarking on a senior career that encompassed spells at Newcastle, Blackburn and Sheffield United.

Although he never reached the heights of his early United contemporaries, Gillespie did play in the Champions League and UEFA Cup with the Kevin Keegan’s gung-ho Magpies side of the mid-90s, and won the 2002 League Cup with Blackburn.

Like Dunne, Gillespie also holds another unwanted Premier League record – the fastest ever sending off.

5. LM: Damien Duff

LONDON - NOVEMBER 19: Damien Duff celebrates scoring Chelsea's third goal during the Barclays Premiership Match between Chelsea and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on November 19, 2005 in London, England. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

One of the world’s most dangerous wingers in his day, Damien Duff won two Premier League titles at Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s first stint at the Blues and was later a Europa League runner-up in 2010 with Fulham.

He also made the UEFA Team of the Year whilst at Blackburn in 2002.

Duff boasts exactly 100 caps with Ireland and retired in 2015 after stints with Melbourne City and Shamrock Rovers.

4. CM: Roy Keane


The stony-faced pundit is the most-decorated Irishman in Premier League history. Roy Keane (like Irwin) won seven Premier Leagues, as well as the Champions League and four FA Cups.

Few players have ever lived up to Keane’s dedication, effort or leadership qualities on the pitch and the fiery captain left a raw wound when he acrimoniously departed Man Utd in 2005.

Keane was named the Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 2000 and made the PFA Team of the Year on five separate occasions.

3. CM: Wes Hoolahan

NORWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Wesley Hoolahan of Norwich City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road on May 07, 2016 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Although he might not boast the accolades of this team’s other central midfielder, Wes Hoolahan has made over 100 Premier League appearances and earned the moniker ‘Wessi’ (a combination of Wes and Messi) for his performances with Norwich.

A keen futsal player in his youth, Hoolahan is known his technical and creative abilities. He currently holds 37 Ireland caps and was named in 2015’s Football League Team of the Decade.

2. ST: Robbie Keane

26 Dec 1999: Robbie Keane of Coventry City celebrates his 71st minute goal during the FA Carling Premier League match against Arsenal played at Highfield Road in Coventry, England. The game finished in a 3-2 win for Coventry.  Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson /Allsport

With 349 Premier League appearances and 126 goals, Robbie Keane is among the greatest Irish forwards of all time.

Famed for his longevity as much as his poaching talents, Keane’s 146 national team caps also make him Rep of Ireland’s highest appearance-maker, and remarkably the only player in world football to have scored an international goal in 19 consecutive years.

His best years came at Tottenham Hotspur, but Keane also enjoyed top flight spells with Coventry, Leeds United, Liverpool, West Ham and Aston Villa.

1. ST: Niall Quinn

29 Apr 2000: Niall Quinn of Sunderland celebrates scoring the equalizer during the FA Carling Premiership match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park, Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths/ALLSPORT

The towering striker is best-known for his ‘big man, little man’ double act with Kevin Phillips at Sunderland.

Niall Quinn also spent time with Manchester City in the Premier League, and began his career in the UK at Arsenal in the 1980s.

After hanging up his boots in 2003, Quinn has worked as a coach and chairman at the Black Cats and also as a TV pundit.


Roy Carroll, Aaron Hughes, John O’Shea, Glenn Whelan, Neil Lennon, Chris Brunt, Shane Long


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