While 2018 was a disastrous year for the Republic of Ireland, there have been some early signs of life in 2019. A number of our internationals have been performing incredibly well as of late, and these two have been in better form than anybody.
Alan Browne is quickly becoming one of the best midfielders in the Championship, as he continues to rack up the goals this season. He netted his 10th of the campaign today to give his side the lead against Stoke, and what a goal it was.
The ball fell to the Corkman just inside the Stoke penalty area, where he showed incredible composure to turn the defender before burying it in the bottom corner.
Browne's prolific scoring record in a midfield role isn't going unnoticed, and should he continue his current form, he could well find himself in the Premier League next season. Preston fans are already worried about losing their star man.
10 goals and 4 assists for Alan Browne so far this season. If we do unfortunately lose him in thr off season it will be for a club record fee. #PNEFC
— Jack Cooksey (@triggywiggy) January 26, 2019
At only 23-years old, he has the potential to become a crucial player for Ireland over the coming years.
Elsewhere, Conor Hourihane has been performing incredibly well for Aston Villa over the past couple of months. Usually operating in a deeper midfield role, his passing and ability to dictate the pace of the game has been very impressive.
His abilities to deliver set-pieces is also something that will be a major asset going forward, as he demonstrated today. He delivered an inch-perfect ball for Tammy Abraham to tuck home, completely taking the Ipswich defence out of the game.
Tammy Abraham scoring for fun in the championship. Bring him back and let him learn more from Higuain. pic.twitter.com/H1qb3fAb3a
— CM (@CFCJorg) January 26, 2019
Under Mick McCarthy, these two have the chance to form the next Irish midfield. It is an area of the pitch where we have struggled greatly in recent years, especially in terms of keeping the ball. Ball playing midfielders were often an afterthought under Martin O'Neill who preferred hard tackling workmen in the middle third.
Including the likes of Hourihane and Browne could result in a more attractive style of play, something Irish fans would no doubt be thrilled to see.