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The Greatest (And Worst) Of Ireland's Penalty Takers - Then And Now

By Conor Neville
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One of Ireland's penalty kings crept one year closer to his seventh decade today. Liam knocked in penalties for fun in Turin and Highbury back in his day. We decided to honour Ireland's greatest spot kick kings - and some of the guys who struggled from twelve yards out.

3. Liam Brady

Brady did miss a penalty of real significance against Valencia in the 1980 Cup Winners Cup Final shoot-out. Graham Rix also missed and Arsenal lost a second Cup final in a week having lost to West Ham in that year's cup final.

But generally, Brady was a model of excellence from the spot. It was his goals from the spot that allowed him become Juventus' top scorer with eight goals (truly, a Giovanni Trapattoni team) in the 1980-81 season as he helped his new team to a title in his first season.

Another Serie A arrived the following year and it was a Brady penalty that sealed it. He had been told beforehand that Platini was in and he was out and many Italians believed that he would have had just cause to kick the ball wide on purpose (don't you love Italian football culture) and were spellbound when he actually proceeded when he proceeded to score.

He continued to slip home penalties for Inter in subsequent seasons. He scored one of the most significant penalties of the Charlton era in the manager's first competitive game against Belgium in late 1986 to salvage a last minute 2-2 draw.

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2. Robbie Keane



Robbie has been masterful from the penalty spot for years now, but never more than in 2002, when he nailed a last-minute penalty against Spain in the final minute, having assumed control of duties from Ian Harte, whose nerves were shot for the previous two and a half games. He was also flawless in the shootout, which is sadly significantly more than can be said for the majority of colleagues.

He has missed two penalties for Ireland - against Slovakia in 2010 and Costa Rica last summer, and he missed one recently for Galaxy, perhaps indicating that his failure rate is increasing as he enters his footballing dotage.




1. Denis Irwin 


The man who sent conscientious journalists and commentators googling synonyms for 'dependable', Denis Irwin was the king of the penalty spot for years. Seasoned observers of penalty kicks for the past two decades can only recall Denis missing two penalties - and one of them he scored himself on the rebound (West Ham). The other he slipped (Aston Villa).


Needless to say, he never missed a penalty for Ireland.




The Disasters:

3. Tony Cascarino

Cas owes his peace of mind to Mr. Silviu Lung, the moustachioed Romanian goalkeeper who features so prominently in Reeling in the Years.

Cascarino did his level best to miss that penalty but fortunately that was more than matches by Silviu's determination to ensure the ball hit the net.




2. David Connolly

Back in the 1990s, the Galway hurlers used to have to wait about three months after everyone else to play their first match. Invariably, the reports would emerge that the team were 'flying in training'. There was no bigger harbinger of doom for the team than the declaration that they were 'flying in training'. On the odd year that there were reports of dissension and strife at training, that was the year they had a chance.

After David Connolly struck one of the tamest penalties in history in the 2002 shoot-out, Mick McCarthy naturally informed everyone afterwards that the very same man wasn't able to miss penalties in training in the days leading up to the match.



1. Kevin Kilbane

We're big fans of Kevin here but he never should have been let near that penalty spot - he's even worse at empty net rebounds.

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