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Selecting An All-Time Ireland XI With Only One Player From Each County

Selecting An All-Time Ireland XI With Only One Player From Each County
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Ireland have had some top class players down through the years. As a result, picking any sort of all-time XI will produce a fantastic team.

The task is made much more difficult when you can select only one player from a given county. You might imagine it is a fairly straightforward job when you consider that you only have to find 11 players from 32 potential sources.

However, the nature of Ireland's squads down through the years means it is not that simple.

Not only did a huge proportion of players come from Dublin, but you also cannot select any footballers who were born and raised outside of the country. When you also limit the selections from other traditional strongholds such as Cork and Louth, the pool of potential players dwindles rather quickly.

As a result, some difficult selections choices have to be made. You might feel that one player is more deserving of a spot than someone else from that county, but a lack of options in certain position may force your hand. That happened on a couple of occasions during this process.

With all of that in mind, here is the team in full.

All-Time Ireland XI With One Player From Each County

GK: Darren Randolph (Wicklow)

Shay Given and Packie Bonner are probably more deserving on this spot in the team, although we needed to keep the Donegal position open due to a relative lack of options in defence.


Randolph would be next in line after that pair in any case, having won 50 caps for his country and put in some top class displays along the way.


RB: Seamus Coleman (Donegal)

Ireland have had a number of top right backs over the last few decades, but Seamus Coleman is arguably the best of them. A top player for club and country for over a decade, he is one of the best leaders ever to wear a green jersey.


He is a more than fitting choice to represent his county here.

CB: John O'Shea (Waterford)

One of the first names on the team sheet, John O'Shea is far and away the best footballer ever produced in Waterford.

Not only did he earn 118 caps for his country, but he also won a huge amount of honours at club level with Manchester United. A no-brainer.


CB: Nathan Collins (Kildare)

Look, we know this one is a big call, but there wasn't a whole lot of other options. Looking back at the recent history of Irish defenders, they all seemed to hail from Dublin, Louth, or were born outside of the country.

Kildare have a relatively poor history of producing players for Ireland, although Nathan Collins, Anrew Omobamidele, and Mark Travers have bucked that trend in recent years.

Collins has only earned a handful of caps for Ireland, but he looks certain to have a huge future in the game. He is also the most expensive Irish player of all-time.


We don't feel great about this pick, but we needed to leave other counties available for other positions in the side.

LB: Steve Staunton (Louth)


Another man who was guaranteed to be in the side, Steve Staunton is capable of slotting in anywhere across the back four. Louth had a deep pool of players to choose from, with Gary Kelly and Ian Harte both in with a shout of making the cut had they hailed from a different county.

'Stan' had to be the choice here though, appearing at three World Cups and going on to become the first centurion in Republic of Ireland history.


RM: Shane Long (Tipperary)

Shane Long doesn't play as a winger, but considering that there were a number of options for that position, he could definitely do a job out wide in this side.

The Tipperary man has earned 88 caps for his country, scoring 17 goals along the way.

CM: John Giles (Dublin)

Dublin was by far the hardest county to choose from. They have probably contributed more Republic of Ireland players than all other counties combined, meaning it was hugely difficult to decide who would make the cut for this side.


Robbie Keane, Liam Brady, and Paul McGrath were all given strong consideration, but in the end it was difficult to leave out John Giles. Regarded by many as the greatest player ever to wear the green jersey, his contribution to Irish football is unmatched.

While he was unfortunate to play during an era where Ireland were not qualifying for major tournaments, his talent was never under-appreciated during his playing days.

Robbie Keane is massively unlucky to miss out considering his goalscoring record for Ireland, but the lack of options in midfield in comparison to up front tilted the balance in Giles' favour.

CM: Roy Keane (Cork)

The other player who was immediately selected to this side, you couldn't put together any sort of all-time Ireland XI without including Roy Keane.

Cork have provided some top players to Ireland down through the years, but none can match the talent of the former Manchester United captain. One of the most influential players in the world at his peak, he massively raised the standards of whatever team he was part of.

LM: James McClean (Derry)

Shane Duffy was another fantastic option for this side, but McClean's 96 Ireland caps to date made him impossible to overlook. He has produced some big moments for his country and his international career is far from over.

He looks likely to become only the sixth centurion in Republic of Ireland history during the upcoming Euro 2024 campaign.

ST: Kevin Doyle (Wexford)

Kevin Doyle remains the last man from Wexford to play for Ireland, but his spot in this team is well deserved. Earning 90 caps during a span of over a decade in the squad, he was a key player at international level for a number of years.

He would have perhaps hoped to score more than 14 goals during that spell, but those who watched the games he featured in could see how important he was to the team.

ST: Don Givens (Limerick)

Often overlooked in modern terms, Don Givens was a top quality striker for Ireland for over a decade. His tally of 19 international goals was an Irish record at the time, most famously scoring a hat-trick in a Euro qualifier against a much hyped USSR side in 1974.

He would hold the record as Ireland's top scorer until it was surpassed by Frank Stapleton in 1990.


The Team In Full

While the condition of selecting only one player from each county resulted in some top class players missing out, that is certainly a strong Ireland XI.

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