The 2010s were a real up and down spell for Irish Football. There was the incredible highs of Euro 2016 and the crushing lows of heavy home losses to Denmark and Germany. But we have seen some great players and here is my personal Irish XI of the decade.
Goalkeeper: Darren Randolph
Some may be crying out for Shay Given but I believe since Randolph took over the goalkeeping role in 2015, he has made it his own in a spectacular fashion. His crowning moment is of course that assist against Germany in the Euro qualifiers but since then he has been an ever present for the Irish team. He’s also made some great shot stopping performances along the way notably against the likes of Wales and Denmark away and will be holding onto the number 1 shirt well into the 2020s.
Right Back: Seamus Coleman
If there was one word to describe Seamus Colemans performances for the national team in the last 10 years, it would be consistency. He would give 7 out of 10 performances game in game out for the country and has been by some distance the best right back Ireland have had in the 2010s. Solid defensively and strong going forward to Seamus proved a real threat to the opposition and came back from a near career ending injury against Wales to captain his country by the end of the decade. What 10 years he has had.
Centre Back: John O’Shea
Starting the decade at his peak and ending it with retirement John O’Shea has been a great servant to the country over the past decade. No one will ever forget the role he played at the heart of defence for the National team particularly his last gasp equaliser against the World champions in Germany. He may not have been the best ball player, but he was certainly rock solid at times and has well deserved his place in this team.
Centre Back: Shane Duffy
When Shane Duffy was sent off against France in 2016 few people would have thought he would have rebounded to save his Ireland career quite as he has. When this mans in the side it gives us all confidence that a clean sheet is imminent, and he has been spectacular particularly in the qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championships. His highlight of the decade must be his goal away in Denmark which acted as slight vengeance for that World Cup playoff in the Aviva.
Left Back: Robbie Brady
Now I know that what you’re thinking but I really had to shoehorn this man into the team some way somehow. His quality on the ball is a rarity in Irish football and his set piece ability has proved useful throughout the decade. His goal against Italy sent the nation into a frenzy back in 2016 a tournament in which he cemented himself as one of Irelands stars even making it into many people’s team of the tournaments. He had to be in here somehow, sorry Stephen Ward.
Defensive Midfield: Glenn Whelan
Some people will be disgusted with this selection but let’s be honest. Glenn Whelan has been the only real man present throughout the past decade and has been a constant started under 3 managers. Many have made him something of a scapegoat but he’s usually on the ball and has largely been consistently good throughout the ten-year spell. Eammon Dunphy may not like it but Glenn Whelan just had to be in this team.
Centre Midfield: Wes Hoolahan
Now here’s a man with real quality. Wes Hoolahan probably should have been even more of a presence in the 2010s but when he was on the field he was usually head and shoulders above his teammates. His ability to dribble and to pass the ball has been almost unheard of in recent years for the national side and he has been missed since his international retirement. He was the beacon of hope for soccer fans and will always be remembered for that goal against Sweden.
Centre Midfield: Jeff Hendrick
Jeff Hendrick has been a great servant throughout the last 10 years and has been consistent throughout his appearances for the national team. He enjoyed a great campaign at Euro 2016 and has always performed in the qualifiers. He had a great eye for a pass but was also defensively solid and always proved to be a steady player in midfield since his debut in 2013.
Right Wing: Jon Walters
Jon Walters has forged out a brilliant Ireland career and has earned cult hero status among the boys in green faithful. His brace against Bosnia to take us to the Euros cemented his place among the Irish football legends. He enjoyed a turbulent relationship with Roy Keane but that has not really tarnished his reputation amongst the fans as he scored many important goals and put in great performances for the National side.
Left Wing: James McClean
Passion his what comes to mind when you think of James McClean in a green jersey. This may have boiled over into cards at times but usually it translated into an incredible work rate and willingness to run. He thoroughly deserved his goal against Wales that took us to the World cup playoffs. However poor he may look at times on the ball it cannot be understated how much his incredible love for his country has benefited him and the team throughout the decade.
Striker: Robbie Keane
Irish football legend. That’s all you can say about Robbie Keane. He may have been past his peak but he still scored the most goals by some distance of any Irish player in the 2010s. He had a freak ability to score goals and capped off a remarkable career with a place in the Euro 2016 squad. He scored 27 goals for Ireland in the 2010s a truly remarkable tally for a man past his best and playing in America at club level. Shane Long is unlucky to miss out, but you just can’t argue with Keane’s goal scoring record.
Manager: Martin O’Neill
There was only one man to manage this team. As much as the performances were awful toward the end in his peak, he brought back some excitement to the nation something that Trapattoni never really managed. We will never forget his role in Euro 2016 and overall, he will be remembered as a great Ireland manager for years to come.
So that’s my Ireland XI of the decade. It may not be a perfect team but they all certainly deserved there place in the side and have been great servants to Ireland in the 2010s.