The good thing about fictional combined XI's is; regardless of how pointless they may be, there's still a curiosity about who was selected to give you an idea how your views on a current squad or squads weigh up with whoever picked the team.
The bad thing about fictional combined XI's is; people always get seriously pissed off if you don't pick enough of the players they want.
With that in mind... We are seriously pissed off with WalesOnline claiming that only Seamus Coleman was a guaranteed starter if the two teams ever did team up for some sort of tag-team challenge. They also said the following:
Man for man, Ireland aren't a patch on Wales.
Their shock win in Austria followed a squeaky draw in Serbia, a narrow home win over Georgia and three points in Moldova.
They top Group D and have four games of their last six to come in Dublin.
If you were to look at a composite Wales-Ireland XI, very few Irish would get in.
The only certainty would be Seamus Coleman at right back. Two or three others may be touch and go, but it would be very Wales dominated.
Yet they are organised, disciplined, experienced and know how to win.
Jesus. You'd swear Wales are a dominant football force, who qualify top of their group every time without even trying, and certainly wouldn't go over 50 years without an appearance at a major tournament.
Gareth Bale is legitimately one of the greatest players on the planet, and in Aaron Ramsey, Ashley Williams, and Joe Allen on current form they have players that would walk into the Ireland team, but man for man... Not a patch?
We're not having that.
We've picked our combined Ireland and Wales XI based on current form at both club and international level, and it's got more than just Seamus Coleman in it.
The reasoning for the selections is below.
Shane Long brings significantly more to the table than Sam Vokes and Hal Robson-Kanu who, aside from a Cruyff turn that will now define his career, is shite for the most part. That sounds harsh but he was released by Reading for a reason, and will soon suffer the same fate at WBA we're willing to bet.
Seamus Coleman nailed on.
Darren Randolph, because Wayne Hennessy is crap. It's blunt, but while he can pull off a great save here and there, he would never fill a backline with confidence. Look at Serbia's goal as the latest example of his fondness for a howler. Randolph isn't first choice at his club, but neither is Hennessy who sits behind Mandanda for Palace, and unlike the Welsh keeper, Randolph has yet to put a foot wrong for his country.
Aaron Ramsey on his worst day is still in this team ahead of Whelan and and McCarthy.
Joe Allen has been a revelation since leaving Liverpool as his form in the Euros has carried over to Stoke.
Ashley Williams is head and shoulders above all other defenders in both squads.
Robbie Brady is just too good to leave out. This is one that may be scoffed at across the sea but Brady would fit into damn near any team with his pace, technical skill, and work-rate.
The glaring omissions:
Joe Ledley is a very fine midfielder, but we felt that Jeff Hendrick's form has been too good to leave him out. This is a biased selection here, but for feck sake if they're putting Wayne Hennessy in goal then we're having this. Does a similar job to James McCarthy at the end of the day.
James McClean can count himself very unlucky, as he has been one of the standout players in Group D of the European Qualifiers for World Cup 2018. Brady gets the nod for his slight advantage in crossing and taking on a man, but it does hurt us to leave James out.
Jeff Hendrick is someone who we've picked over Joe Ledley because of his ability to the ball, and his form over the past year. He is an outstanding player who will see a lot of Premier League football for the next decade.
James Chester is the best of a bad bunch. Neither Ireland nor Wales are blessed with great options in central defence, but an excellent Euros see him get the nod here. Very short for the position though, and while we feel Ciaran Clark would actually be a great fit with Williams barking orders at him, we feel that the Welsh would not accept his fondness for an own goal.
Neil Taylor is not that much better than the vastly improved Stephen Ward we've seen at Burnley, but he is a very solid player and if Robbie Brady is playing higher up the pitch, then he is the best call.
We feel like most Welsh fans would not be happy with the final team, but their performances so far in Group D show that there are problematic holes around their outstanding players like Bale, Ramsey, Allen, and Williams.
Regardless, it's going to be a fascinating match when these two sides meet home and away before the conclusion of this campaign.