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Why Martin O'Neill Absolutely Must Make An Exception For Darren Randolph

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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Speaking in the aftermath of Monday night's thoroughly enjoyable and unusually comfortable playoff success against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Martin O'Neill made a statement that will no doubt have had a sobering effect on a number of players involved in the celebrations.

O'Neill was adamant that his Euro 2016 squad would be comprised only of players who are playing regular football for their clubs. That means bad news for Aiden McGeady, Stephen Ward, Darron Gibson, and sure enough, Darren Randolph.

Since moving from Birmingham during the summer transfer window, Randolph has played just three times, and all of those came because the Hammers' number one keeper Adrian was serving a suspension for a red card. The Spaniard is a very talented keeper, and Randolph knew of the situation he would be getting himself into when he joined the club, so it's very unlikely barring an injury that we will see Ireland's new-found hero playing week in, week out.

An exception to this rule must be allowed to include Randolph, as he has emerged as the goalkeeper with which Irish fans have grown most comfortable due to his impressive performances at the business end of the qualification campaign.

Ireland's other goalkeeping options are: Shay Given, who is having a terrible time with injuries and won't get a look in ahead of the impressive Jack Butland at Stoke, Rob Elliot, who has looked very good for Newcastle and will play the remainder of the season in Tim Krul's stead but has yet to get a real chance for Ireland, David Forde who has done very well for Ireland in the past, but is not the first choice goalkeeper at Milwall in League One (Forde has just four appearances this season), Keiren Westwood who starts every week and is a very solid keeper but is also someone that MON appears to hate for some reason, and Stephen Henderson, who also plays every week in the Championship for Charlton but is yet to make his international debut.

By that logic the keepers that Ireland would take to France would be Elliot, Henderson, and Colin Doyle, who has been playing for Blackpool. Presuming, that is, that Keiren Westwood has done something to seriously piss Martin O'Neill off.

Now, we fully expect Randolph to travel to France, but O'Neill has said he only wants players who play every week, so an exception must be made. And here are some of the reasons why:


His positioning is extremely impressive.

The above clip may look like nothing, but Randolph's knowledge of where he is in relation to the front post saw him shield the ball wide when a hell of a lot of 'keepers would have played it safe and made the save, conceding a potentially dangerous corner in the process. It's a sign that his positioning is always important to him.

He plies his trade in the Premier League.

Granted, he's not playing every week, but Premier League clubs are now actively looking to have two starting calibre goalkeepers in their squad at all times. Were it not for an injury to Courtois, Asmir Begovic would have been lacking match fitness coming into the playoffs. Being a sub keeper in the Premier League isn't what it used to be.


He's played for Ireland in Basketball.

This is more of a fun fact, but you need good hands and quick thinking to be a baller, and Randolph had dreams of the NBA at one stage thanks to his pops who was a major player in the glory days of Irish basketball.

He's got the highly coveted GAA background.


There's a certain pride that Irish people take in sports stars who have a solid foundation in GAA. Randolph played football for the Wicklow U16s as a centre back/full back, which will have no doubt helped with his hands and big boot.


The GAA crowd need heroes like himself and Shane Long to remind everybody how superior GAA is to football and rugby, especially at a big competition with everyone watching.

He's 28 years of age.

That's basically 22 for a goalkeeper. If he has a good Euros we could be settled with Randolph for the next three qualifying campaigns with ease, and goalkeeper was thought to be a position of crisis as recently as earlier this year.

He's got an absolutely massive boot.


It's a canon. Irish teams have always liked a keeper with a good 'auld hoof (Shay Given aside), and Randolph ensures the ball comes down with snow on it. He does need to take his time before making the decision to kick though, he was a tad wasteful against Bosnia.

He went out with your one from The Saturdays.

He played an absolute blinder there.


He's not an unlucky goalkeeper.

Since he replaced Shay Given against Germany, Randolph has pulled off a number of highly impressive saves. He has also been very lucky on occasion, and that's a good thing. Unlucky goalkeepers are not a good look.

He's from Bray.


It may not mean much to you, but it does to me. The closest thing to an Irish international that Bray has had in recent years is Paul McShane, who's from Kilpedder, 10 mins down the N11. It's great to see Darren flying the flag for the gateway to the garden of Ireland.

'Hon the Bray.

His goalkeeping coach at West Ham is Chris Woods.

This is a big one. Chris Woods is one of the top goalkeeping coaches in England, and is thought to have had a major role to play in the development of David De Gea for the one season that he coached him under David Moyes at Manchester United. Louis Van Gaal changed the whole backroom staff when he arrived, and Woods was snapped up by West Ham where he will be working with Randolph every day.

He's proven that he's capable of being Ireland's number one, hopefully he gets the experience of Euro 2016 under his belt and goes on to solidify his place for the next half-decade.

SEE ALSO: How Richard Keogh Is Quietly Becoming Ireland's Best Defender

SEE ALSO: Roy Keane Highlights Three Players In Danger Of Missing Out On Euro 2016 Squad


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