St. Patrick's Day: Top 10 Irish Premier League Players Ever

Peter CarrollContributor IIIMarch 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day: Top 10 Irish Premier League Players Ever

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    The Boys in GreenShaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Well it's St. Patrick's Day, and I am Irish, so as you all probably know I'm gonna spend the day drinking whisky and chasing leprechauns.

    Iv decided while its early, I'll get this out before I go and hunt some snakes in honour of our fantastic patron saint.

    As you probably know, Ireland is a hot bed of footballing talent, and we happen to be the team everyone feels sorry for and supports in tournaments when we try punching above our weight.

    Ireland has had some amazing players throughout the 19 years of the English Premier League- here's my top ten in no particular order.

    P.S Thierry Henry we will never forget

Niall Quinn & His Uncontrollable Limbs

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    Quininho- the mullet yearsShaun Botterill/Getty Images

    "I learned my trade at Arsenal, became a footballer at Manchester City, but Sunderland got under my skin. I love Sunderland."

    This footballing goliath was Ireland's all time top goalscorer until Robbie Keane came on the scene. The general rule with Quinn was-hit the ball in his direction and the ball will hit off him in some strange fashion that will result in a goal.

    In other words, Quinn was a goalscoring machine. He was also an integral pat of keeping the 2002 World Cup team grounded after the loss of captain Roy Keane.

    Quinn's best years were spent at Sunderland, striking up a fantastic partnership with Kevin Philips, showing skills that people thought he was never capable of. This led Irish people to giving him the nickname, "Quinninho"- a play on the Middlesbrough player Juninho's name.

Steve Staunton- the Gaffer

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    Stan for LIverpoolGary M. Prior/Getty Images

    “I'm the boss, I'm the gaffer and at the end of the day what I say goes. I will use Bobby in whatever role I see fit.”

    Stan started his career at Dundalk and then went on to switch between Liverpool and Aston Villa for the majority of his playing years, before dawning a Coventry shirt and retiring at Walsall.

    Despite making a parody of himself as the Ireland manager, Staunton was a very sturdy full back. he will be remembered for leaving it all out on the pitch and the massive clump of sun block on his nose throughout World Cup '94.

    Staunton won the FA Cup with Liverpool in 1989 and made over 100 appearances for the Premier League giants, and over 300 hundred appearances for the league nearly men of 92/93, Aston Villa.

Paul McGrath- the Black Pearl

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    McGrathBilly Stickland/Getty Images

    "Defending is known as the devil of football, McGrath makes it seem like a work of art"-Ben Dyson

    Paul McGrath was everyone's Dad's favourite football player. He is arguably the greatest centre half in the history of Irish football.

    The Black Pearl played out his formative years at Manchester United where he won the FA Cup in 1985, winning the Man of the Match honour in the final in a 1-0 win over Everton.

    When Ferguson took the reigns at United, the "drinking culture" that existed in the team was eliminated by the Scot, with McGrath being sold to Aston Villa in 1989.

    At Villa, McGrath showed amazing athleticism, after being told he couldn't play due to the state his knees were in, McGrath turned out nearly every week for the club with sterling performances. The Irish man read the game like no other player since.

    Villa won the League Cup in '94 and '96 with the centre half playing a pivotal role. He won the PFA Player of the Year award in 1993.

John O'Shea- Kop Killer

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    John O'Shea, whether you like it or not, is one of the most versatile players in the Premier League, having played in every position for Manchester United, including between the sticks against Spurs, when he stopped a shot from Ireland team mate Robbie Keane.

    O'Shea endeared himself to United fans in 2005 after he putted the icing on the cake of a 4-2 win against Arsenal, when he chipped the ball over Manuel Almunia from 20 yards.

    Again in 2007, O'Shea provided United fans with a glorious moment, tapping in an injury time winner into the Kop end at Anfield, providing United with the means to lift the Premiership title.

    Lets not forget that time he nut-megged Luis Figo, that was absolutely fantastic.

    O'Shea has won four Premier League's, one F.A Cup, three League Cups, four Community Shields, one Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup.  

Damien Duff- the Ballyboden Bomber

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    In action for FulhamRichard Heathcote/Getty Images

    "He plays on the LEFT, he plays on the LE-EFT, Damien Duff, he plays on the left"- Irish fans chorus.

    Duffer was looked upon like a prodigy in his early days at Blackburn, where he won the League Cup. He was hot property with many clubs trying to seal his signature.

    After a fantastic World Cup in 2002, and finishing Blackburn's top goalscorer in 2003, Duff was signed by Chelsea for £17 million for the 2003/2004 season. He was unlucky with injury, but scored 6 goals in the season.

    Duff helped Jose Mourinho to League and League Cup double in 2005 and struck up a nice wing partnership with Arjen Robben, despite people believing the signing of the Dutchman would lead to Duffers demise.

    Duff moved to Newcastle in 2006, with the team being relagated in 2009. Despite wanting to stay and help Newcastle back to the top flight. Duff was signed by Fulham with whom he made a good run for the Uefa Cup with, reaching the final.

Denis Irwin- the Quiet Man from Cork

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Denis Irwin had stints at Leeds United and Oldham before he finally settled down at Old Trafford.

    Irwin was an integral part of "Fergie's Dreamteam", winning seven Premier League titles, three FA cup winners medals, a League Cup winner's medal and Champions League and Cup Winners' Cup honours.

    Irwin was comfortable in either full back position, but really nailed down the left sided position for Ferguson, not giving up the spot until he was well into his thirties.

    Irwin was also a dead ball specialist, excelling at free kicks and penalties. He only missed one penalty in his career, and even then he scored the rebound.

    The Cork man left Old Trafford to join Wolves in 2002, and was applauded when he returned to the Red Devil's home in the 2003/2004 playing for Wolves.

     

Richard Dunne

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    “Ever since I’ve come to this club Richard has just been quality. I play with him week in, week out and I think he’s one of the best players I’ve played with. I’ve played with John Terry and Rio Ferdinand in the England squad but Richard is right up there with them.”- Micah Richards.

    After originally playing for Everton, Dickie signed for the blue side of Manchester in 2000 as a right back, but went on to excel in the centre half position.

    A real fan favourite at City, and won the Club Player of the Year award a record four times in a row and in 2006 Dunne was made captain at City.

    As the Man City takeover came in, they had no room for Richard Dunne in their plans, wanting to buy in international superstars instead. Dunne signed for Aston Villa in 2009.

    With Villa, Dunne was a runner up in the League Cup in 2010 and was also seleted as part of the PFA Team of the Year.

    Richard Dunne is joint top of the table, with Patrick Viera and Duncan Ferguson, for most red cards in the Premier League with 8.

     

Shay Given

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    It wasn't so long ago that Shay Given was rated as one of the best keepers in the world. Shay began his career with Celtic, moving to Blackburn Rovers. At Blackburn he was sent out on loan and helped Sunderland to win Division One in 1996. Newcastle signed the Donegal man in 1997.

    At Newcastle, Given struggled to keep his place in the first team, in a constant battle with Steve Harper for the goalkeeping spot. Shay eventually stapled down his position at Newcastle, winning a place in the 2001/2002 team of the year, as well as the 2005/2006 team of the year. Shay also won the Inter Toto Cup with the Tyneside team in 2007.

    In what will be remembered as a bad decision, Shay Given moved to Manchester City in 2009. While it is perfectly acceptable to think the goalkeeping ace wanted to compete on a bigger stage; with Joe Hart on the rise as a real talent, it wasn't his best idea.

    Given still deserves the thrill of top flight football, and although he's currently injured, he would be a fine buy for Arsenal, United or Liverpool who may all be looking for goalkeepers at the end of the year in my opinion.  

Robbie Keane- the Fox in the Box

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Robbie Keane, captain of Ireland, the Premier League journey man is widely loved, even when he's ten yards off side and looks at the linesman like he's about to cry.

    Robbie is Ireland's leading all time goalscorer with 45 goals in his 104 caps. He has played for Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Spurs, Liverpool, Celtic and West Ham.

    A proven goalscorer, Robbie was made a fool of by the evil Rafa Benitez when he brought him to Liverpool for three months, Robbie's childhood favourites, before sending him back to Spurs. The transfer turned out costing the Red's £10 million for the Irish man's services.

    £10 million for 3 months....now that shines a light on the Tallaght mans quality.

    We love you Robbie

Roy Keane

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    Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

    You can say what you want about Keano, but he was an absolutely quality midfielder. A work horse and a terrifying prospect as a player, with an unrivaled determination and will to win.

    The Saipan incident will lead this to being a very controversial selection, but again, the murky circumstances will never allow us to know what fully happened. Two men; manager and player were in the wrong in different ways, in my opinion.

    Keane dominated the midfield of Manchester United from 1997 to 2005, and protected his team mates like a lioness defends her cubs.

    With United, Keane won the Premier League seven times, the FA Cup four times, the community shield four times, the Champions League on one occasion and the Intercontinental Cup once as well.

    Keano also won the Scottish domestic double in 2006 with Celtic.

    He also won countless individual awards, including two manager of the month awards from his time at Sunderland.

    Let the debate begin.