Football

After Long Downward Trend, The Number Of Irishmen In The Premier League Is Bouncing Back

After Long Downward Trend, The Number Of Irishmen In The Premier League Is Bouncing Back

With the return of the Premier League season in recent days, we were keen to see how prevalent Irishmen were in the division.

Last year, nine Irish players featured on the opening weekend. That was actually more than the previous season, when only eight players (and one of them was Declan Rice).

This is a stark contrast to the numbers at the start of the decade, with 22 Irishmen featuring on the opening day of the 2012/13 season.

Luckily, things seem to be trending in the right way once again.

In all, 12 Irishmen featured in the Premier League over the opening three days. That number likely would have been even higher were it not for Burnley (Kevin Long and Robbie Brady) and Aston Villa (Conor Hourihane) not having a fixture to play. There was also an injury to Ciaran Clark.

 

2020/21 Opening day: 12

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  • James McCarthy
  • Will Smallbone
  • Shane Long
  • Jeff Hendrick
  • Dara O'Shea
  • Callum Robinson
  • Seamus Coleman
  • Matt Doherty
  • John Egan
  • Enda Stevens
  • David McGoldrick
  • Aaron Connolly

Michael Obefemi, Darren Randolph, and Cyrus Christie were unused substitutes, while Ciaran Clark was ruled out due to injury.

This number could have been even higher were it not for the stagnated nature of this beginning of this season, with Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane and Burnley's Robbie Brady and Kevin Long also having the chance to feature in their clubs' opening games next weekend.

2019/20 Opening day: 9 players featured

  • Seamus Coleman
  • Michael Obafemi
  • Shane Duffy
  • Callum Robinson
  • David McGoldrick
  • John Egan
  • Enda Stevens
  • Matt Doherty
  • Conor Hourihane

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James McCarthy, Jeff Hendrick, Kevin Long, Ciaran Clark were unused substitutes.

Here's how those numbers compare to seasons gone by. We have listed  n detail each season of this decade, as well as the numbers every year from 1995/96 onwards, when the Premier League was reduced to 20 teams.

2018/19 Opening day: 8 players featured

  • Jeff Hendrick
  • Stephen Ward
  • Declan Rice
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Cyrus Christie
  • Shane Duffy
  • Matt Doherty
  • Seamus Coleman

Jonathan Walters and Greg Cunningham were unused subs.

2017/18 Opening day: 10 players featured

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  • Shane Duffy
  • James McClean
  • Harry Arter
  • Stephen Ward
  • Robbie Brady
  • Declan Rice
  • Rob Eliot
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Jonathan Walters
  • Jeff Hendrick

Shane Long and Kevin Long were unused subs.

2016/17 Opening day: 11 players featured

  • John O'Shea
  • Shane Long
  • Shay Given
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Jonathan Walters
  • James McCarthy
  • Damien Delaney
  • James McClean
  • Stephen Ward
  • David Meyler
  • Harry Arter

Darren Randolph was an unused sub.

2015/16 Opening day: 11 players featured

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  • Damien Delaney
  • Robbie Brady
  • Wes Hoolahan
  • Seamus Coleman
  • James McCarthy
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Eunan O'Kane
  • James McClean
  • Shane Long
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Jonathan Walters

John O'Shea was an unused sub.

2014/15 Opening day: 14 players featured

  • Damien Delaney
  • Joey O'Brien
  • John O'Shea
  • Marc Wilson
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Stephen Ireland
  • Richard Dunne
  • Alex Bruce
  • David Meyler
  • Paul McShane
  • Stephen Quinn
  • Aiden McGeady
  • Seamus Coleman
  • James McCarthy

Paddy McCarthy, Jonathan Walters, Ciaran Clark, Shay Given, Brian Murphy, Robbie Brady, Rob Eliot & Kevin Long were all unused subs.

2013/14 Opening day: 13 players featured

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  • Joey O'Brien
  • Shane Long
  • John O'Shea
  • Damien Duff
  • Seamus Coleman
  • Wes Hoolahan
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Marc Wilson
  • Jonathan Walters
  • Robbie Brady
  • David Meyler
  • Damien Delaney

Alex Bruce and Paul McShane were unused subs.

2012/13 Opening day: 22 Irish players featured

  • Joey O'Brien
  • Shay Given
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Stephen Ireland
  • Steven Reid
  • Shane Long
  • Alex Pearce
  • Ian Harte
  • Noel Hunt
  • Rory Delap
  • Jonathon Walters
  • Marc Wilson
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Damien Duff
  • Anthony Pilkington
  • Wes Hoolahan
  • David Meyler
  • Seamus Coleman
  • Darron Gibson
  • James McCarthy
  • John O'Shea
  • James McClean

Kieren Westwood, Stephen Kelly, Brian Murphy, Graham Burke and Stephen Henderson were all unused subs.

2011/12 Opening day: 19 players featured

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  • Leon Best
  • Connor Sammon
  • James McCarthy
  • Wes Hoolahan
  • Anthony Pilkington
  • Damien Duff
  • Shay Given
  • Richard Dunne
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Kevin Foley
  • Stephen Ward
  • Stephen Hunt
  • Kevin Doyle
  • Steven Reid
  • Shane Long
  • Simon Cox
  • Marc Wilson
  • Rory Delap
  • Glenn Whelan

Brian Murphy, Kieren Westwood, Stephen Kelly and Stephen Ireland were unused subs.

2010/11 Opening day: 13 players featured

  • Simon Cox
  • Rory Delap
  • Glenn Whelan
  • Andy Keogh
  • James McCarthy
  • Stephen Carr
  • Keith Fahey
  • Damien Duff
  • Stephen Kelly
  • Ciaran Clark
  • Richard Dunne
  • Robbie Keane
  • John O'Shea

Shay Given, Steven Reid, Keith Andrews and Andy O'Brien were unused subs.

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Here is a table of all the Irish players to feature on the opening day starting from when the Premier League first became a 20 team league in the 1995/96 season:

1995/96: 12
1996/97: 14
1997/98: 13
1998/99: 11
1999/2000: 14
2000/01: 18
2001/02: 14
2002/03: 19
2003/04: 15
2004/05: 14
2005/06: 16
2006/07: 17
2007/08: 17
2008/09: 15
2009/10: 19
2010/11: 13
2011/12: 19
2012/13: 22
2013/14: 13
2014/15: 14
2015/16: 11
2016/17: 11
2017/18: 10
2018/19: 8
2019/20: 9

2020/21: 12

After a long downward trend, things seem to be bouncing back for Irish players in the Premier League. Long may it continue.

See Also: Irish Player Ratings: In-Depth Roundup Of Our Footballers Abroad

Gary Connaughton

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