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An Unfulfilled Potential Irish XI - Where Are They Now?

An Unfulfilled Potential Irish XI - Where Are They Now?
By PJ Browne
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Irish football is full of 'nearly' stories; players who looked like they were headed for great things only for their careers to falter - usually due to injury.

This is an XI of Irish players for whom we had high expectations.

Dean Kiely

Kiely's potential on the club scene was undoubtedly fulfilled. He played more than 600 games in a career lasting over two decades.

It was on the international front where his career floundered. Despite his time with Ireland lasting nearly a decade, Kiely played just 11 times. There was, of course, a Shay Given-shaped barrier to him becoming first choice for Ireland. He was just unlucky that his time in international football coincided with the career of Ireland's best ever keeper.

What's he up to now?

Kiely is currently a goalkeeping coach with Norwich. It's a role which he took up in March 2015.

Jim Beglin

In the mid-80s Beglin became a regular for Liverpool at left-back after joining from Shamrock Rovers in 1983. He would win a title and FA Cup with the club in 1986. However, his career faltered when he suffered a serious leg break during a League Cup game the following year. Alan Hansen described the tackle by Everton's Gary Steven's as being 'a mile high and an hour late'. His career would never fully recover.

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The Waterford man won just 15 caps for Ireland.

What's he up to now?

Beglin works as a commentator for the Premier League and RTÉ.

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Jason Gavin

Gavin was one of Brian Kerr's boys who won the European U18 Championship in 1998 - that was actually 18 years ago today. Despite forming a tournament-winning partnership with Richard Dunne - a player who would go on to become an Irish legend - Gavin never won a cap for Ireland at senior level. After nearly a decade in English football with Middlesbrough and Bradford, Gavin returned home to play League of Ireland with Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda and Pat's.

What's he up to now?

He last played football for Stirling Lions in the second tier of Australia football. That was, however, four years ago. Any more recent news on Jason would be welcome

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Alan Maybury

A fullback, Maybury won ten ten caps for Ireland between 1998 and 2005. He came through the ranks at Leeds and looked likely to continue the club's trend at the time of having Irish fullbacks - namely Gary Kelly and Ian Harte.

During Leeds' run to the Champions League semi-final in 2000/01 Maybury started the 3-3 draw with Lazio in the group stages. It would never really happen for him at Leeds. He moved to Hearts later that year.

What's he up to now?

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Maybury is assistant manager of Scottish Championship side Falkirk.

Liam Miller

It will always be one of the great 'What ifs?' of Irish football. Liam Miller's decision to turn down Celtic and instead join Man Utd on a free transfer will always be looked upon as a lamentable moment. His career faltered at Old Trafford where he only played a handful over games over two seasons. Miller's development as a player - one who looked so promising at Celtic - became stunted.

What's he up to now?

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Miller is playing in the third tier of US football with Wilmington Hammerheads. The 35-year-old joined the club in February.

At the weekend, he grabbed a late equaliser against Orlando.

Stephen Ireland

Somehow, Stephen Ireland is still just 29. He would appear to have been in our football consciousness for much longer. In the mid-2000s, while at Man City, he appeared to be the creative force Irish fans craved.

Granny-gate and an apparent apathy towards international football would mean Ireland winning just six caps for the Republic.

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What's he up to now?

He's with Stoke. Last season, he made just 16 appearances. Only three of those were starts. He suffered a broken leg in training back in May.

Mark Kennedy

In 1995, Mark Kennedy's move from Millwall to Liverpool for a fee of £1.5 million, which made him the most expensive teenager in British football history at the time, was splashed across media in Ireland. Expectations were high for both Irish and Liverpool fans.

In three years with Liverpool he made only 16 appearances. That was followed by a stint at Wimbledon where he made just 19 appearances.

He did, however, manage to win 35 caps for Ireland in a career which last two decades.

What's he up to now?

After three and a half years as Ipswich's U21 coach, Kennedy became Man City's U15s coach earlier this month.

Keith O'Neill

Keith O'Neill is another lamentable case of a promising and gifted Irish player who was just prone to injury. He played 13 times for Ireland between 1996 and 1999.

Upon retirement, in October 2003, at the age of just 27, O'Neill declared him sated.

I retire content that I have had the opportunity to play football for the greatest nation in the world.

What's he up to now?

He is currently 'Online Business Development Director' for the 2 Sisters Food Group in Birmingham.

Richie Partridge

Richie Partridge came through the ranks at Liverpool. Again, as with many players on this list, injuries scuppered his career. He never made a first team appearance for the club.

He was sold by Rafa Benitez in 2005 to Sheffield Wednesday. The Dubliner never made a senior international appearance for Ireland.

What's he up to now?

Partridge is a physio with Liverpool. He initially joined to work with the club's U21s but have since been promoted to work with the first team. Over the weekend, he took part in a game between Liverpool staff and Stanford. Also, his brother-in-law is none other than Michael Owen. His wife is Owen's younger sister Lesley.

Graham Barrett

17 years ago, Graham Barrett came off the bench for Arsenal as a replacement for Thierry Henry. It looked to be the beginning of an illustrious career. However it would be two years before he scored his first professional goals - those came on loan at Colchester. A succession of injuries would blight the forward's career.

He did manage to win six Ireland caps and score twice between 2002 and 2004.

What's he up to now?

He's a football agent. One of his clients is Jack Byrne - Irish football's brightest prospect at the moment.

Terry Dixon

Due to his stocky build and precocious talent at a young age, Terry Dixon was once labelled 'The Irish Wayne Rooney' by media on this island. There was even talk of him becoming our youngest ever international. Early in his Ireland career, at the age of just 16, Dixon was called up to the senior squad by Steve Staunton. He would not get a senior cap for the Boys in Green.

Dixon was with Spurs when Staunton called him up. A series of knee injuries would destroy his career and wilt all that potential.

What's he up to now?

Still just 26, he is currently playing for Southern Football League side Aylesbury.

Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

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