When Football Manager was released back in November the first thing we did was take a look into the crystal ball of FM15 to see what the next decade had in store for Ireland.
So how what will the Irish team look like in ten years? We fast forwarded to June 2024 and the European Championships to see how the lads are getting on...
After leading Ireland to Euro 2016, Martin O'Neill decided to retire. He was replaced by Sean O'Driscoll who then went and called it a day after Euro 2020. Many tipped Roy to finally make the step-up but it was actually current Southampton boss Ronald Koeman who was appointed as manager.
Keane meanwhile, is still assistant manager with Ireland and with Aston Villa, where he has survived relegation and six managers.
In their third European Championships running Ireland have yet again failed to make it out of the group stages. Two defeats in their opening two matches came as a huge disappointment after topping their group in qualification.
They took on Cyprus with nothing but pride at stake.
If there's one thing the Ireland teams of Football Manager can do it's exploit the Granny Rule. Here is our first example; current Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
In FM15 McCarthy moves to QPR for £3m in January 2015. This marks the beginning of a nine-year spell as a first choice Premier League keeper, which brings him to the attention of Martin O'Neill. After switching allegiances, McCarthy goes on to earn 68 caps for Ireland by June 024.
A promising player in real life who has just signed for Hull City, Lenihan goes on to move to Brentford in 2016 for £200,000. He stays there for five seasons before moving to Leeds United – still marooned in the lower echelons of the Championship – on a free transfer.
Although Lenihan isn't playing in the Premier League he is one of the most consistent performers at club level, with an average match rating of 7.18 for his 43 league appearances in the 2023-24 season.
The current Irish u19 player will move on from Reading in 2017 when he joins Portsmouth in League One. He will have a couple of successful seasons with Pompey before £275,ooo move to Wolves in the Championship.
Sweeney – an ever-present in the Wolves line-up for four seasons – develops into a solid defender and in 2023 moves to Huddersfield for £400,000. Also, in 2018 he suffered a bout of food poisoning which forced him to miss a week of training.
By 2024 Ciaran Clark is at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, having joined the Scottish club in 2018. Clark stayed with Aston Villa until 2016 before moving down the leagues to Middlesbrough. It looked like his Premier League career could be saved when he moved to West Ham a year later but alas he left the club after no league appearances.
34-year-old Clark wasn't in the Ireland team for the opening two games of Euro 2024 but found himself back in the team for the Cyprus match.
Unfortunately I don't think this Murray chap is actually a real person, which is unfortunate given that he's our only Premier League defender. He first shows up at Swindon Town in 2015 before a remarkable rise to fame. After moves to West Ham, Oxford United, Crystal Palace and Coventry, Murray joins Aston Villa in the Championship in 2002 and helps them back into the Premier League.
The Norwich City player caused huge controversy in 2018 when he declared for Ireland despite winning a cap for England in a friendly a year earlier.
He came into Euro 2024 on the back of 11 successful seasons at Norwich, scoring six goals in the 2023-24 campaign.
In real life, Peterborough United's Kane Ferdinand has been capped three times by Ireland at u21 level. If FM15 is anything to go by, he will go on to win 14 caps with the Irish senior team,
Ferdinand moves on to Millwall before joining Blackburn in 2019 and went on to make his Ireland debute in 2021 at the tender age of 28.
Hendrick is still pulling the strings in the Ireland team at 32 years of age come 2024. The talented midfielder never made the breakthrough at Premier League level unfortunately, remaining at Derby until 2019 before moving to Brentford for £3.5m
He has won the club player of the year for three years in a row.
So it looks like FM15 have decided Grealish's international future. The tricky winger will make his Ireland debut away to Gibralter apparently before going on to great things with Tottenham Hotspur; Premier League winners in 2021, 2023 and 2024.
Grealish joined for £11.75m in 2019 and is now valued at £21m. His medal haul to date includes three Premier League medals, a Europa League and two FA Cups. He provided more assists than any other player in the whole of Euro 2024 qualifying.
He scored a real life free-kick for Spurs yesterday and the great news is that he will declare for Ireland in 2017 and become our captain. Kane joins Aston Villa in 2016, becoming an ever-present in the side.
He sticks with them through thick and thin, with the club twice relegated from the Premier League before being promoted back to the top flight in 2023. He has scored 76 goals during his Villa career and 30 goals for Ireland in 52 caps.
Another person who isn't real unfortunately. Eoin was born in 2004 and found himself himself in the Ireland team to play Cyprus after Longford Town's Mark Murphy suffered an injury against the Czech Republic.
O'Halloran did well for himself, bagging two goals in the 3-2 win.
McAlinden is worth a mention not just for his goal against Cyprus but also due to the fact that he's actually real. The current Wolves player moves to Peterborough in 2019 and helps them become an established Premier League side; scoring goals for the club.
In Other News...
Fear not everyone! The main man is back. According to FM15, Steve Staunton makes his return to management in 2015 when he takes over Coventry. In 2018 he becomes Brentford boss before being appointed Aston Villa manager in 2020 ... with Roy Keane acting as his assistant.
Unfortunately things don't go all that well for Stan and he gets Villa relegated. The board decide to sack him but it's not long before he's back in the hot seat; this time with Brighton.