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Ranking All Of Ireland's Players From The World Cup Qualifying Campaign

Ranking All Of Ireland's Players From The World Cup Qualifying Campaign
By Gary Connaughton
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Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign has come to a close, with the team showing a huge amount of development over the course of the year.

While the group may have started out in disastrous fashion, performances steadily improved to the point where the team went unbeaten in the final five fixtures.

Last night's victory over Luxembourg showed the strides this team have made, but how do the players stack up over the course of the entire campaign?

By taking their player ratings from each game in the campaign and then calculating their average score, we have ranked every player to feature in competitive game under Stephen Kenny in 2021.

A couple of caveats here before we get into the ratings. Only the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers have been taken into account, meaning the friendly games against Qatar, Andorra, and Hungary will have no impact on these ratings. That is bad news for the players who performed well in those games.

Considering how poor Ireland were early in the campaign, players who featured throughout or only in those first few games are more likely to have lower ratings.

It is noticeable how players who came into the side late on have higher marks, something that should be expected given the performances in recent times. In the case of a tie, the player that played more often was ranked higher.


Finally, if a player was not on the pitch long enough to rate in a given game, that fixture was not counted in their overall average score but was included in their given appearance total.

Now that the criteria has been cleared up, here's now Ireland players ranked over the course of 2021.

Ireland Qualifying Campaign Player Ratings

1. Chizedozie Ogbene - 8.3/10 (Three appearances)


He may have come late to the campaign, but there are few others in the squad that had the impact of Ogbene. He was sensational in all three appearances, scoring twice and providing some thrilling moments.

Hopefully he can continue this type of form in the long-term.



2. Jason Knight - 8/10 (Two appearances)


3. Gavin Bazunu - 7.9/10 (Seven appearances)


Bazunu was without doubt been the story of the campaign. He has certainly been the most consistent performer overall, with the goalkeeper making more appearances than the two players ahead of him combined.


4. Andrew Omobamidele - 7.7/10 (Four appearances)



5. Shane Duffy - 7.5/10 (Six appearances)

It is easy to forget that Shane Duffy wasn't actually in the side for the first two games of this campaign, but he has more than made up for lose time since coming back into the side.


The last few months have arguably been his best in an Ireland jersey.


6. John Egan - 7.2/10 (Six appearances)


7. Seamus Coleman - 6.8/10 (Five appearances)


8. Josh Cullen - 6.7/10 (Eight appearances)

The highest ranked player to feature in all eight qualifiers (and one of only two to start all of them), Cullen's mark would be even higher were it not for some poor results at the start of the year.


9. Callum Robinson - 6.6/10 (Seven appearances)

Robinson's average was hurt by the fact friendly games were not included here, with his hat-trick against Qatar not considered. Still, he manager three goals in his late three competitive appearances.


10. Adam Idah - 6.5/10 (Six appearances)


11. Dara O'Shea - 6.5/10 (Three appearances)


12. Matt Doherty - 6.3/10 (Eight appearances)

The other player to start all eight group games, this seems like an unusually low mark for Doherty, who was excellent in this campaign. However, his average has certainly been lowered from a couple of poor team performances in the first few fixtures.

In truth, his overall play deserved a far better mark.


13. Jamie McGrath - 6.3/10 (Four appearances)



14. Jeff Hendrick - 6/10 (Six appearances)

Hendrick started the year poorly, but has since gone from strength to strength. He is currently in the midst of his most consistent spell at international level.


15. Enda Stevens - 6/10 (Three appearances)


16. Aaron Connolly - 6/10 (Three appearances)


17. Conor Hourihane - 6/10 (Five appearances, all from bench)

Hourihane was a difficult one to place in these rankings. He may have made five appearances, but all but one of them was a short cameo off the bench.


18. James McClean - 5.5/10 (Eight appearances)

Like Hendrick, McClean was hurt by a couple of poor showings earlier in the year. There is no doubt that he has improved quite a bit since then.


19. Shane Long - 5.5/10 (Two appearances)


20. Alan Browne - 5.3/10 (Five appearances)


21. Jayson Molumby - 5.3/10 (Five appearances)

Molumby featured quite a bit early in the campaign, but injury issues meant he was not in the squad for any of the last three fixtures.


22. James Collins - 5/10 (Five appearances)


23. Troy Parrott - 5/10 (Four appearances)

Parrott's two goals against Andorra and general good form in the June friendlies were not counted here, meaning his only start came in the 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan.

You would be hoping he plays a more prominent role for Ireland in 2022.


24. Robbie Brady - 5/10 (Two appearances)


25. Mark Travers - 5/10 (One appearance)


26. Daryl Horgan - 4.7/10 (Three appearances)


27. Ciaran Clark - 4.5/10 (Two appearances)

Ciaran Clark started two games for Ireland in this campaign: the losses to Serbia and Luxembourg. He was poor in each fixture and has not come close to featuring since then.


28. Will Keane - N/A (One appearance)

Will Keane was only on the pitch for a few minutes at the end of the Portugal game, although he did almost contribute to a famous winner for Ireland.



One thing worth noting about these rankings is how much young players came to the fore towards the end of the campaign.

While many have claimed the team's turn in fortunes was down to Kenny reverting to a more experienced lineup, the top four players on this list all made their international debuts under the current manager. In fact, Jason Knight is the only one of that bunch to feature at international level before 2021.

When you couple that with the resurgent form of Shane Duffy, Jeff Hendrick, and a number of others, this Ireland side is certainly in a much stronger position than it was only a few months ago.

Here's hoping for bigger and better things in 2022.

SEE ALSO: Luxembourg Boss 'Disappointed' With Behaviour Of Ireland Staff

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