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The 5 Irish Players Whose Stock Rose The Most During Euro 2016 Qualification

The 5 Irish Players Whose Stock Rose The Most During Euro 2016 Qualification
By Mikey Traynor

What a journey it's been.

We are already looking forward to the RTÉ DVD of our successful qualification campaign that had its share of ups and downs before we eventually booked our place in France.

From resigning ourselves to failure after losing in Scotland, to beating the world champions at home, it's been an emotional roller-coaster, but the following five players did themselves the world of good over the course of the campaign, and heading into Euro 2016 look to be in a very good position.

5. Darren Randolph

He only played against Germany, Poland, and Bosnia (x2) but the West Ham goalkeeper never put a foot wrong, managed to bag himself an assist against the Germans, and is now the consensus number one choice for the majority of Ireland fan. We're loving Randolph in goal, and nobody saw that coming when our journey began.

READ MORE: Why Martin O'Neill Absolutely Must Make An Exception For Darren Randolph

4. Richard Keogh

Another one who only got a chance at the back end of the campaign, but one of the big reasons for impressive defensive performances in the playoffs and against Germany is Derby County's Keogh. He looks calm, assured, and confident in the Irish back four, and his organisational skills shouldn't be ignored. With O'Shea in and out of the team, he emerged as a leader and is now the ideal starter along with O'Shea at CB.

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READ MORE: How Richard Keogh Is Quietly Becoming Ireland's Best Defender

3. Jeff Hendrick

At 23 years of age, Jeff Hendrick has shown enough in this qualifying campaign to suggest that he will have a place in Ireland's midfield for the next decade. While his role in the team was unclear at the start, O'Neill found an unusual place for him as a wide player which greatly increased his influence on Ireland in an attacking sense.

A number of impressive assists including a match-winning run against Georgia has now seen Hendrick emerge as one of Ireland's likely starters for Euro 2016.

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2. Robbie Brady

The decision to play Robbie Brady at left-back against Poland was seen as a disaster at the time, but the Dubliner has grown in the role to the point where he regularly appears at left-back in the Premier League for Norwich. It's vitally important to have Robbie Brady in the Ireland team now. While he can be a bit hit-and-miss with his delivery, when he gets it right, it's a goal.

Much needed pace in the team and set-pieces, Robbie will be starting in France.

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1. Jon Walters

Nobody disliked Jon Walters going into the opening qualifer against Georgia, but nobody regarded him as a national hero in the way they do now. Irish men are literally getting his name tattooed on their arse after his match winning heroics against Bosnia, but he offers us so much more than just goals.

Walters runs all day long, he's gets about our opponents, and he's the only player who you couldn comfortably lift out of the Euro 2016 squad and place in the Italia 90 squad and he's win Jack Charlton over in training on day one.

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Whether it be holding the ball in the corner to waste time, helping out at defensive set-pieces, providing our only legitimate goal threat from open play, or just running the channels, big Jon Walters has become arguably Ireland's most important player.

SEE ALSO: Roy Keane Highlights Three Players In Danger Of Missing Out On Euro 2016 Squad

SEE ALSO: 'Irish Fans Are A Godsend' - German Magazine On Why Euro 2016 Needs Ireland

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