The post-season Ireland matches are fertile ground for the selection of players who, in ten years' or so, will occupy a prominent place in the pantheon of Irish footballing obscurity. With that in mind, we have decided to select an XI of Irish players who were at one stage on the books of a Premier League team, but would nowadays elicit a reaction of "Who? Did he? Oh yeah!" when their name is mentioned in conversation.
The criteria for inclusion are pretty simple: each player has to be qualified to play international football for Ireland, and had to have been employed by a Premier League club at some stage since the foundation of the division in 1992. Full international caps were not a necessary requirement.
It also has to be pointed out that League of Ireland fans will definitely remember some of the players below who made steady careers for themselves here. What may have slipped their minds, especially those below a certain age, is that at one stage or another each of them were once considered to be too good for our own league, and in many cases the much-hoped-for 'next big thing' in Irish football, before slipping off the radar of the top English sides.
As always, these XIs are a subjective business and your comments are encouraged.
GK: Brendan Murphy
Meathman Murphy was a youth player at Bradford City between 1991 and 1994, before moving to Wimbledon until 1999. He won caps at under 21 level and was called up to one full international squad, for the friendly against Wales in 1997, but didn't play. He returned to Meath after a spell at Dundalk FC and later became the Royals' first-choice 'keeper between 2006 and 2008. He went back to soccer for a short spell with Longford Town, before returning to GAA until his retirement in 2011.
DF: Paul Tierney
The Salford-born fullback was with Manchester United between 2000 and 2005, during which time he made seven under 21 appearances for Ireland. He only played in the League Cup for the Red Devils and at various times was sent out on loan spells to Crewe, Colchester and Bradford. He then spent time at Livingston in Scotland, before returning to Lancashire to join Blackpool in 2006. Keeping things local yet again, he was last seen playing for lower-league Altrincham in 2009.
DF: Barry Ferguson
Ferguson takes his place in the team because he played six times for the under 21s in 1999 and 2000 while on the books of Coventry City. He never played a league game for the Sky Blues, and returned home in 2002 after three loan spells down the divisions in England.
He was far more well-known for his exploits in the League of Ireland. He spent three years at Longford during their golden years, and captained the Town to two FAI Cups and a League Cup in 2003 and 2004.
Spells with Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers followed, before retiring due to a chronic hip injury while playing for the now-dissolved Sporting Fingal. Ferguson is currently employed by the FAI as a development officer.
DF: Barry Quinn
Barry Quinn was one of Brian Kerr's Golden Generation of underage players in the mid-to-late '90s, and became something of a regular at Coventry City until 2004. His last professional club was Oxford United, with whom he stayed until 2009.
He captains the side by virtue of the fact that he is wearing the armband in this picture from the under 21 match against Portugal in June of 2001. He had won all four of his full international caps by this stage.
DF: Danny Boxall
Croydon-born Boxall made his name in the 1990s at his local big club, Crystal Palace, during which time he made eight appearances for the Ireland under 21s. He then went to Brentford and Bristol Rovers before retiring from the game due to injury in 2008.
Apparently he works as a male model these days.
MF: Gareth Whalley
As with the majority of this XI, you may just about remember Whalley, as I do, as a "who the fuck is he?" inclusion in an early McCarthy-era match programme. The Mancunian moved from Crewe Alexandra to Bradford City in 1998 and played a part in the Bantams' two seasons in the Premier League. Spells at Wigan and Swindon followed before winding up his playing days, like fellow Irish-Manc Tierney, at Altrincham.
MF: Keith O'Halloran
Keith O'Halloran was at Middlesbrough between 1994 and 1997, but made just four league appearances for the Teesside club. He then had three years at St Johnstone, then three more at Swindon, before returning to Dublin to play for Rovers in the tough years of 2004 and 2005. As far as we can tell he didn't gain international honours at any level, but his "Jaysus he did and all" factor more than exceeds the minimum level required for selection.
MF: Alan Moore
You may not have totally forgotten about Alan Moore - the Dublin winger had ten years at Middlesbrough - but it is definitely easy to forget that he played eight times for Ireland at the start of the Mick McCarthy era in 1996. He was at Burnley from 2001 to 2004, before going on to play a central role in Shelbourne's run in the Champions League qualifiers in 2004, when the Reds came up heartbreakingly short of a group stage berth, just losing out to Deportivo de La Coruña at the final hurdle.
FW: Mickey Evans
During his second spell at Argyle he set up a building company which subsequently went into administration a couple of years ago.
FW: Michael Reddy
Kilkenny native Reddy started out with his hometown club, the now-defunct Kilkenny City, before spending five years on the books of Sunderland. During 1999 and 2004 he was sent out on six separate loan spells by the Mackems, including two spells at Sheffield Wednesday. He's just 34 these days, but he finished as a pro in 2007 after three years at Grimsby Town.
The above picture is from 2000 and sees Reddy with a delighted-looking Robbie Keane who presumably had just received word that he no longer has head lice and can regrow his hair.
FW: Jon Goodman
Jon Goodman, pictured above celebrating a 0-0 draw with Wales in 1997, was a Millwall stalwart between 1990 and 1994, during Mick McCarthy's tenure at the Den. It's not surprising, then, that Mick was keen to get the Londoner involved in the Irish setup while Goodman was having success at Wimbledon in 1997. He played four times that year, but didn't manage to find the net - though his Wikipedia page suggests otherwise.
On leaving the game at the turn of the millennium, he worked as a sports scientist/conditioning coach with Reading, Northern Ireland and until earlier this month, Leeds United. He now runs his own sports science consultancy business which works mainly with professional football teams.
The list of potential replacements for this team is pretty extensive, as you might expect - who can say that in the past couple of years they've given a thought to the current whereabouts of Jay O'Shea, Sean Thornton, Brian Launders, Stephen Capper, Thomas Butler, Willie Boland or Tony Sheridan? They'd all make the squad for a hypothetical Obscurity World Cup.
Goalkeepers who may have totally slipped your mind were harder to come by - not many Irish fans will have totally forgotten Joe Murphy, Nick Colgan, Colin Doyle or Wayne Henderson, all of whom have played full internationals in the last decade or so.
Honourable mention also to the following players who nearly made it but were deemed not obscure or forgettable enough to feature: Paul Butler, Jim Crawford, Mark Yeates, Jon Macken, Richie Ryan and Anthony Gerrard, the Irish-qualified cousin of Steven