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10 of the best Irish players in Premier League history

Roy Keane

Roy Keane in his best Ireland days [Picture: Inpho]
Roy Keane in his best Ireland days [Picture: Inpho]
The Corkman has won seven Premier League titles and received two PFA Team of the Year nominations. Love him or loathe him, there arguably hasn’t been another Irish player to match his talent and list of achievements in the Premier League era.

Shay Given

Shay Given and Robbie Keane will soon be waving goodbye to the Ireland set-up [Picture: Inpho]
Shay Given with fellow Premier League stalwart Robbie Keane [Picture: Inpho]
Given is not just one of the best Irish players to play in the Premier League but he is also one of the best goalkeepers in Premier League history. He has featured twice in the PFA Team of the Year and rescued Newcastle many times with his excellent goalkeeping during his long spell at the Magpies. Currently at Stoke, Given continues to impress with performances when called upon despite not being first choice.

Damien Duff

Damien Duff in his Chelsea days [Picture: Getty]
Damien Duff in his Chelsea days [Picture: Getty]
At the height of his career, Duff was probably one of the best wingers in the Premier League. He may have spent just three seasons at the very top with Chelsea, but he had the ability to make an impressive impact during his time there, winning two Premier League medals. Duff also enjoyed spells at both Newcastle and Fulham towards the latter stages of his Premier League career.

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John O’Shea

The 1-1 draw with Scotland in Dublin was disappointing [Picture: Inpho]
John O’Shea in action for Ireland against Scotland in 2015 [Picture: Inpho]
The versatile defender won five Premier League medals at Manchester United, making at least 20 appearances in eight out of 10 seasons with the first team. He has since developed into a veteran for Sunderland, where he is one of the more reliable players in a team that’s rarely far away from a relegation battle.

Niall Quinn

Niall Quinn was at his prolific best with Sunderland [Picture: Getty]
Niall Quinn was at his prolific best with Sunderland [Picture: Getty]

Quinn was well-known for his aerial ability and his overall footballing intelligence. He spent most of his career in the Premier League and was a useful player for Manchester City before enjoying his best football at Sunderland, where he formed a formidable strike partnership with Kevin Phillips.

Denis Irwin

Denis Irwin won seven Premier League titles [Picture: Getty]
Denis Irwin won seven Premier League titles [Picture: Getty]
One of the most competent full-backs ever to grace the division, Denis Irwin won seven Premier League titles with Manchester United, rarely putting a foot wrong along the way. Indeed, few would argue a case made for the Cork native being the best full-back of the Premier League era.

Paul McGrath

Paul McGrath played in three major tournaments for Ireland [Picture: Inpho]
Paul McGrath in action for Ireland against Italy in 1990 [Picture: Inpho]
McGrath was heading towards the twilight of his career when the Premier League began in 1992, but even during his brief experience in the breakaway division he was still a highly accomplished player with Aston Villa, earning the PFA Player of the Year award in 1993.

Richard Dunne

Richard Dunne
Richard Dunne’s best club days were as Man City captain [Picture: Getty]
Unlike others, Ireland and Man City fans will always recognise Dunne’s immense talent. In his prime, Dunne commanded from the back and gained himself a reputation for being a no-nonsense defender. He featured in the PFA Team of the Year in 2010 and was voted Man City’s Player of the Year for an impressive four consecutive seasons. His last spell in the Premier League came in the 2014-15 season but he couldn’t help Queens Park Rangers survive relegation, despite some impressive displays.

Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane's no longer the prolific force of old,' says O'Neill
Robbie Keane was just as prolific in the Premier League as he has been for Ireland [Picture: Inpho]
Keane made a lasting impression on England’s top flight and is known for being one of the most skilful, consistent and inventive forwards ever to grace the Premier League. A hero for club and country, he is one of a select group of players to score over 100 goals in the league and is currently 13th in the all-time scoring charts.

Ray Houghton

Ray Houghton with Aston Villa in 1993 [Picture: Getty]
Ray Houghton with Aston Villa in 1993 [Picture: Getty]
Houghton spent just three seasons playing in the Premier League, but he was a star attraction in the early years. His first Premier League club was Aston Villa before moving on to Crystal Palace, but he couldn’t prevent the Eagles from being relegated. During his first season at Villa, however, Houghton performed well consistently as they just missed out on the Premier League title.

Honourable mentions

Apologies to those who didn’t make the cut, but we mean no disrespect to the likes of Steve Staunton, Steve Finnan, Gary Kelly, Jason McAteer, Andy Townsend, Terry Phelan, Matt Holland, or any of the other Irish stalwarts of yesteryear. Let us know your thoughts on who should or shouldn’t have made the list in the comment box below.


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2 comments on “10 of the best Irish players in Premier League history”

  1. David burns

    Ah Conor, no Liam Brady?

    • Sports Editor

      Thanks, but this is a Premier League era only list, hence the lack of Liam Brady!


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