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Six of the dirtiest Irish footballers ever

Roy Keane played for Celtic between 2005 and 2006 [Picture: Inpho]
Roy Keane was renowned for his on-field volatile nature  [Picture: Inpho]
TO coincide with the international period, coupled with Euro 2016 hastily approaching, we take a look back at the most ill-disciplined professional footballers that the Republic of Ireland has ever produced.

Inevitability, Roy Keane will be the first person to spring to most readers’ minds, but the question is where does he and the other Irish card merchants rank among our list?

In addition to this we’ve also added in a few moments to forget for each player as we countdown to the biggest offender.

More Sport:


Club career cards:

RED – 6

Delap might just be the unluckiest man to have made it on our list. The ex-Stoke City throw-in specialist is not necessarily the dirtiest player in the world, but his disciplinary record leaves a lot to be desired, though his record is comparatively better than those further up the list.

Rory Delap in action for Ireland [Picture: Inpho]
Rory Delap in action for Ireland [Picture: Inpho]


  • Dismissed – January 2008/09 – Premier League – Stoke vs Man City

“Delap’s ire at a Wright-Phillips diving tackle resulted first in an overly-aggressive challenge of his own and then a completely unnecessary and not entirely well-directed swipe at the ball as it lay near the Manchester City winger’s midriff.”

Source: BBC


Club career cards:

RED – 6

The former Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United man from Co. Monaghan has never been shy nor fearful about getting his kit muddy and sticking the boot in during his battle hardened playing career, and unfortunately for ‘Dougie’ this has lead to, on quite a few occasions, a few very “well deserved” early baths.

Douglas made eight appearances for Ireland [Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Honan]
Douglas made eight appearances for Ireland [Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Honan]


  • Dismissed – Colchester vs Leeds United – Championship – 2006/07

Whilst playing for Leeds during their relegation season in the Championship in 2007, Jonathan had let his emotions and temper get the better of him as his side were frustrated by a well organised Colchester United.

“Douglas was already facing a three match suspension for reaching the 15 yellow card mark for the season after receiving a booking during the 90 minutes. However, he was subsequently sent off for foul and abusive language after the final whistle which means that he is now ruled out of the rest of the campaign as the fallen giants battle relegation to League One.”



Club career cards:
RED – 7

Football League veteran Sheehan hasn’t collected anywhere near as many bookings as Douglas, but he has still managed to collect an incredible seven red and 57 yellow cards and is still only 29. If the man from Athlone continues this menacing streak of mischievousness into his mid-thirties then we may just see him higher up this list in the years to come.

Alan Sheehan was an Ireland U21 international [Picture: Inpho]
Alan Sheehan was an Ireland U21 international [Picture: Inpho]


  • Dismissed – September 2014/15 – English League One – Bradford City vs Swindon Town

On a day were Swindon Town had unraveled Bradford’s defence on two occasions, Sheehan had decided he’d had enough of the skill and virtuosity of the Swindon front line. The end product? He decided to rip up the rulebook and take matters into his own hands.

“Sheehan went to remonstrate with Yaser Kasim, who was lying by the touchline in what the City defender perceived to be an act of time-wasting, when Raphael Rossi Branco intervened. Sheehan appeared to land a body-blow at the Brazilian, who went down as if felled by boxer Kell Brook, and referee Richard Clark had little option but to issue a straight red.”

Source: Yorkshire Post


Club career cards:

RED – 11

After playing 388 games for Millwall between 2000 and 2015 – the sixth most in the club’s history – Dunne was sold ‘over a pint’ to Leyton Orient. But before then, he got sent off more times than any other player in Millwall’s history, and that really is saying something.

Alan Dunne has more red cards than anyone in Millwall's history [Picture: Getty]
Alan Dunne has more red cards than anyone in Millwall’s history [Picture: Getty]


  • Dismissed – February 2005, English Championship – Cardiff City vs Millwall

A vicious scuffle had emerged at Ninian Park after Dunne tried to run down the clock in the corner flag to preserve a 0-1 lead for Millwall. What happened was a few players tried to urgently dispossess Dunne, who reacted, and madness ensued.

Dunne was handed a six game ban from the FA, which had been strictly slapped down due to a previous dismissal earlier on in the same season. It is fair to say though that Dunne wasn’t the kind of defender to be messed with in his prime, and even to this day, at the tender old age of 33, he has already been sent off for the same overly enthusiastic attitude with his new side Leyton Orient.

When asked about the incident in his book (among several others), hard nut Dunne said “Violent Conduct? It wasn’t even handbags. More like purses.”

Source: Dunne, A. (2016). Dunne it the hard way. Pitch Publishing Ltd


Club Career Cards:

RED – 10
INTERNATIONAL RED – 1 (gave away penalty and was sent off against Cyprus in October 2006)

Poor old Richard Dunne. An absolute enforcer at times for Everton, Manchester City, and Aston Villa, teams where he enjoyed some very successful spells. But despite some brilliant defensive form under those teams, he still found himself on the receiving end of quite a few red cards. Furthermore, it is also worth mentioning that as well as being one of the players with the most red cards in Premier League history, Dunne is also the all time leading own goal scorer with an astonishing 10 to his name.

Richard Dunne in his Man City days [Picture: Getty]
Richard Dunne in his Man City days [Picture: Getty]


  • Dismissed – Man City vs Wigan – Premier League – January 2008/09

Never shy of the muscle and bustle mentality when required, Dunne had a day to forget when faced against in-form Amir Zaki of Wigan.

“Zaki and Dunne clashed as they challenged for a high ball and, with both players still grounded, the City captain kicked out at the Egyptian and was immediately dismissed. Dunne felt Zaki had caught him with an elbow, and the Wigan striker made a meal of his reaction, but referee Lee Mason had no choice but to brandish a red card.

Source: BBC


Club career cards:

RED – 11
INTERNATIONAL RED – 1 (sent off on his 30th appearance for the Republic of Ireland against Russia in Mick McCarthy’s first match as manager in March 1996)

A complete midfield menace. Exceptional leadership skills, precise passing, grit, determination, and an endless tank of fuel. Roy Keane will be remembered on the field for two things; his divine all round footballing ability and that ever so unique raging temper. But in fairness to Roy, 90 per cent of the time it was all in the spirit of the sport and in the need for trophies. A number of red cards spring to mind; the Alan Shearer episode (throws a ball at him and then swings a punch), the Jason McAteer elbow to the side of the head… but the one in particular that stands out, of course, its Alf-Inge Haaland.

Roy Keane in his best Ireland days [Picture: Inpho]
Roy Keane got sent off in Mick McCarthy’s first ever match as Ireland boss [Picture: Inpho]


  • Dismissed – April 2000/01 – Premier League – Man Utd vs Man City

So the day had come and Man Utd were to face a struggling Man City in the return fixture of a nearly finished season. But does any of that mean anything in the Manchester derby? No, and Roy himself will tell you how much it meant to get one over on your rivals, but on this occasion he had premeditated much more than victory celebrations.

From his 2004 book ‘Keane The Autobiography’ he had this to say about his destructive tackle on Haaland;

“I’d waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that, you c***. And don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal [David] Weatherall there’s some for him as well. I didn’t wait for Mr Elleray [the referee] to show the card. I turned and walked to the dressing room.”

And in The Guardian he was asked if he had any regrets: “No. Even in the dressing room afterwards, I had no remorse. My attitude was, f**k him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He f**ked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.”

Sources: The Guardian and ‘Keane, The Autobiography’ New York: Penguin Global, 2004. 


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2 comments on “Six of the dirtiest Irish footballers ever”

  1. John McCann

    Absolutely class article! Completely forgot that Rory Delap played for Ireland and that Roy had been sent off against Russia all them years ago.

    Great bit of trivial information to take on board!

  2. Peter

    Two were players the rest shite.....


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