• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • A History Of LOI Player International Call-Ups Since The Charlton Era

A History Of LOI Player International Call-Ups Since The Charlton Era

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
Share this article

Ireland's 4-1 loss to Denmark in the final game of 1986 World Cup qualifying has become, paradoxically, quite famous on account of the tiny crowd that showed up that day.

In Eoin Hand's first campaign as Ireland manager, they had given the qualification phase a right rattle, falling agonisingly short in controversial circumstances in a shocking tough group.

However, by '84 and '85, the mood had soured. Eamon Dunphy, then a hot young-ish columnist with Vincent Browne's Sunday Tribune, kick-started his long-running campaign against the Irish manager's position. It was for Hand that Dunphy coined the term 'decentskinsmanship', a term meant to denote a good-hearted but amateurish loser who has got where he is because the fellas at the top regard him as a 'daycent skin'.

Depsite a couple of good wins at home to the USSR and Switzerland, the campaign dribbled away to nothing and Ireland finished up second from bottom of the group.

Vast chunks of grey concrete were evident on the Lansdowne Road terrace as Michael Laudrup and co. swanned their way through the Irish defence.


For the 12,000 hardy souls who turned up that November, their attendance that day would become a badge of honour in later years, something to hold over the inflatable hammer brigade during the height of the Charlton era. The bulk of the inflatable hammer brigade were largely deaf to the moralising of the 'real fans'.

The Denmark match also stands out for being the last competitive international in which a then League of Ireland player featured for Ireland.


Celebrated Rovers midfielder Pat Byrne won eight caps for Ireland between 1984 and 1986. The match against the Danes was his 4th cap over all and his first and his only competitive appearance. He came on for Tony Grealish after a half-hour.

Eoin Hand was shunted out the door following the miserable '86 campaign. Shortly after he was sacked, he bumped into Dunphy in a nightclub in Baggot Street. At the end of their brief conversation, he tossed his drink in Eamo's face.

Jack Charlton arrived and brought with him a more sceptical and unsympathetic attitude to the League of Ireland. Here's the history of League of Ireland call-ups since then.


NOTE: If there's any that you think we missed, get in touch and let us know. Also, obviously, the players picked have to have been playing League of Ireland football at the time of their call-up.

Pat Byrne

In addition to being the last League of Ireland player to play a competitive international for Ireland, Byrne also holds the distinction of being the LOI player that Jack Charlton tried out the most.

Byrne featured in Charlton's first four games as Ireland manager in 1986, playing in the first two home friendlies against Wales and Uruguay and then coming on as a sub in the Icelandic tournament that summer.

On the domestic front, Byrne is usually held aloft as the most influential player in the great Rovers team of the mid-80s. He won six League of Ireland championships as a player, claiming two winners medals with Bohs as a youngster in the 1970s and then the four-in-a-row with Shamrock Rovers (1984-87).

He managed the Shelbourne team that won the League in 1991-92.

Peter Eccles

A member of the imperious Shamrock Rovers team who swept all before them in the 1980s (Pat Fenlon picked them as the greatest League of Ireland team he had ever seen).

Eccles came on as a substitute in Ireland's 1-1 draw with Uruguay in a friendly in April 1986. He replaced Chris Hughton with ten minutes remaining.

It was Jack Charlton's second game in charge of Ireland and it fell shortly before he lost interest in looking at League of Ireland players altogether.

After spells in Dundalk and, very briefly, with Leicester City, he returned to Rovers in 1989, winning another League title under Ray Treacy in 1993-94.

Barry Murphy

Barry Murphy's sole cap came as a starter in the same Uruguay game that Peter Eccles played.

Murphy, at 27 years of age, was still playing for Bohemians at the time though he subsequently transferred to Shamrock Rovers where he stayed until 1991. He finished up at Athlone Town in 1997.

Ireland's next games were in the famous Icelandic tournament in the summer of '86 where, despite David O'Leary's notorious absence, neither Murphy nor Eccles were called in as cover.

Johnny Glynn*

Dubious inclusion but no harm in offering some colour here. Glynn scored the winner in the 1991 FAI Cup Final when Galway United stunned Shamrock Rovers.

He later moved onto Cork City, with whom he won the League title in 1992-93 after a three game playoff involving Bohs and Shels. The League of Ireland hadn't yet bought into the goal difference business. Had they done, so Bohemians would won the League before the triangular playoff at the season's end.

Glynn, who had spent a summer playing football on a scholarship for Boston University in the mid-80s, was holidaying in the US during Ireland's tour in 1992, best remembered now for the salty confrontation between Keane and Mick McCarthy on the bus.

He went to the Irish team hotel, met the Irish Times wizened old football scribe, Peter Byrne, who facilitated a brief meeting between him and Charlton.

He told Extratime.ie about how close he came to getting on in Ireland's 3-1 defeat in Washington DC.

I brought my gear for some off-season training. The Irish team were on the same flight, so the next day I went to their hotel and met The Irish Times’ Peter Byrne. He called Jack Charlton over, who asked if I had my boots. He invited me to train and stay with them, and I was on the bench against the USA. Ireland was winning 1-0 and I warmed up to come on. America scored and I was told to sit down.

Stephen Geoghegan

The League's most prolific striker in the mid-1990s, Geoghegan won his first League title with Rovers in 1993-94, before immediately heading for Shelbourne. He picked up another couple of titles in the latter stage of his career in the early noughties.

Geoghegan was called up to the squad before the infamous tie against Macedonia in 1997. Evidently brought in as cover for Keith O'Neill, over whom there were injury concerns. An hour before kick-off, O'Neill deemed himself fit (unwisely, as it turned out) and Geoghegan wasn't included in the matchday squad.

Ireland, of course, lost the match 3-2. It was also the match in which Ireland debuted their greatly reviled orange shirts and a dangerously wound-up Jason McAteer very nearly decapitated an opponent with a flying kick.

Glen Crowe

Crowe was scoring goals by the truckload for Bohemians when he was called up to the Ireland squad for a friendly in Greece in 2002.

Mick McCarthy had just left the stage with the ill-feeling from the Saipan saga still hovering about and following a horrible start to the Euro 2004 qualifiers.

Don Givens took charge for the 0-0 friendly in Greece. He came on for Robbie Keane in the final seconds of a friendly against Norway the following April.

Wes Hoolahan

Wes was first called up to the Irish squad in the same game in which Glen Crowe made his debut in Greece in 2002. He was still at Shels and two years later would be part of the side who almost reached the Champions League group phase. However, it would take years before he properly broke into the Ireland squad.

Jason Byrne

Byrne, who is still chasing Brendan Bradley's all-time League of Ireland goalscoring record, played twice for Ireland under Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton.

He came for Clinton Morrison a few short seconds before the final whistle in a friendly in Poland in April 2004. Two years later, he received a more substantial amount of game-time as Ireland lost 1-0 at home to Chile. This would be Steve Staunton's second game in charge. Before the whole went to pot shortly afterwards.

Joe Gamble

A vital member of the Cork side that won the League in 2005, a team which Pat Dolan insists is the greatest League of Ireland team that was ever assembled. Kevin Doyle and Shane Long were both there, and neither were even the best strikers.

Was first called up (along with Jason Byrne) in Stan's second game as manager against Chile but didn't receive any game-time.

Earned his two caps in the infamously ramshackle US tour of 2007. That he was brought on in the opening game against Ecuador as a double substitution alongside Joe Lapira may have robbed his first cap of some of its gravitas.

However, unlike Lapira, who is now remembered as international footballing curiosity, Gamble impressed that day and was upgraded to a starting spot for the 1-1 draw with Bolivia.

Brian Murphy

Goalkeeper Brian Murphy was already known to be on his way out the door at Bohemians when he was called in as cover for Kieren Westwood for the Ireland-France playoff games in 2009.

It had already been signalled that he was on his way to Ipswich Town.

He was the No.1 for the imperious Bohemians team that won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009, the first of which came as part of a double.

He was League of Ireland Player of the Year during the double winning season.

While at QPR, he was called up for the Serbia friendly in 2014.

Tip of the hat to Gerard Farrell on this one. 

Gary Rogers

The Dundalk goalkeeper was called up to the squad for the Ireland-Holland pre-Euros friendly last May, prompting speculation that we might finally, after 94 years, get a Meath man on an Irish teamsheet.

Alas, the role of goalkeeping understudy is not usually one which results in too much action. He was also called into the squad for the autumn friendly with Oman.

At least its some international recognition for Dundalk's stunning achievements since Stephen Kenny has taken over.

Daryl Horgan

The clamour for Horgan's inclusion had grown very loud indeed, but LOI romantics are so used to being let down by sceptical international managers that it was still something of a surprise to see Horgan and Andy Boyle get the call from Martin O'Neill. O'Neill hadn't taken them to Moldova, citing their insane fixture schedule over the past couple of months.

Through a series of Duffer-esque performances in Dundalk's European run, Horgan has become known to a constituency of football fans who normally wouldn't go near a League of Ireland ground.

The first Galway man from the League of Ireland to form part of an Ireland squad since Johnny Glynn's opportunistic chat with Peter Byrne at the 1992 US Cup.

Andy Boyle

Most of the buzz surrounded Horgan but Martin O'Neill has also selected the former Shamrock Rovers defender Andy Boyle for the Austria game.

Boyle was signed by Dundalk before the 2013 season, the year they managed to rise from the foot of the table to muster a title challenge by the year's end.

They ultimately fell away in the title challenge against St. Patrick's Athletic. But in the past few years, Boyle has been central to an Oriel Park dynasty.

Now, he's become, jointly with Horgan, the 12/13th League of Ireland player to be called up to the national team since 1986.

Read more: Here's The Last Irish Soccer International From Every County In The Country

Read more: If Euro 2016 Was A House Party, What Type Of Guest Would Each Country Be?


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com