Our Footballers Who Have Played Both Premier League And LOI XI

With Keith Fahey’s return to the League of Ireland for the 2014 season with St Pats, and rumours of Stephen McPhail joining Shamrock Rovers,  talk of League of Ireland players on the Premier League and vice versa is at all time high. We’ve picked the Balls.ie XI of players who have played in both leagues. They mightn’t be the best, but they’re the most interesting to us.

Goalkeeper; Brad Jones (Shelbourne/Liverpool etc)

Brad Jones Shelbourne League of Ireland

Before he became Liverpool’s 3rd round FA Cup keeper – David Maher / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

Liverpool’s stand in keeper has amassed about 20 Premiership appearances between his spell there and with Middlesbrough and perhaps his career highlight was helping Liverpool to an FA Cup semi final victory over Everton. He played twice in the LOI for Shelbourne in October 2001. As this Dan McDonnell piece in the Irish Independent outlines, his brief spell at Shels was eventful.

Right Back; Seamus Coleman (Sligo/Everton)

Seamus coleman sligo rovers league of ireland

Coleman was told by former Sligo boss Rob McDonald that he wasn’t in his plans – Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

From pretty early on in his Sligo Rovers career, Coleman was marked for bigger and better things. I’m not sure too many thought he’d end up as probably the Premier League’s best right back (as he can easily claim to be now). While Trapattoni clearly wasn’t a fan (Coleman didn’t make the Euro 2012 squad), he figures to be a mainstay of the Irish team for years to come.

Left Back: Kerrea Gilbert (Arsenal/Shamrock Rovers)

Kerra Gilbert shamrock rovers league of ireland

Gilbert with his trade mark “it wasn’t my fault” look – David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Kerrea Gilbert made 2 league appearances for Arsenal in 2006. They lost both games. It should have been a sign. 6 years later he signed for a Shamrock Rovers side looking to win a 3rd successive league title. If we’re being kind to Gilbert, we’ll call his Rovers career an absolute disaster. He played his part in several losses, including a humiliating 4-0 defeat to rivals Bohemians. He didn’t last the full season as he split from the club “by mutual consent”. Rovers ended the season outside the European places. (*We know Gilbert was a right back but he had to be shoe-horned in here. Shut up, we know)

Centre Back; Damien Delaney (Cork City/ Leicester City & Crystal Palace)

damien delaney cork city league of ireland

A left back for Cork, Delaney is firmly established as a centre half now – David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Now 32, Damien Delaney has a long and undervalued career in football. Bursting onto the scene with Dave Barry’s Cork City in 1999, it wasn’t long before he had moved to Leicester City and made his first Premier League appearances. It was a move to Hull that saw him transformed into a centre half and his performances in the Championship were enough to earn several Ireland caps. This year has seen Delaney become first choice centre half for Crystal Palace as they look to avoid relegation in the Premier League.

Centre Back; Paul McGrath (St Patrick’s Athletic/Aston Villa & Derby County)

Paul McGrath st patrick's athletic league of ireland

McGrath in action against Athlone Town in March 1982 – Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

No one really needs telling who Paul McGrath is, do they? Nicknamed the “Black Pearl of Inchicore” early in his career, McGrath is one of a handful of players who can argue they’re the best this country has produced. He’s the only man to be voted Players’ Player of the Year in the LOI (1982) and in the Premier League (1993).

Midfield; Roy Keane (Cobh Ramblers/Nottingham Forest & Manchester United)

Baby faced Keane happy to pose with Cobh Ramblers fans - pic from Cobh Ramblers

Baby faced Keane happy to pose with Cobh Ramblers fans – pic from Cobh Ramblers

Another legend of the Irish game, Keane played for Cobh Ramblers as an 18 year old before moving to Brain Clough’s Nottingham Forest.  He would go on to win everything the Premier League had to offer including 7 league titles. He was the last Irishman to be voted Player of the Year in England in 2000. There, a whole paragraph on Keane and not one mention of Saipan. D’oh!

Midfield; Carlton Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Southampton, Coventry City / Dublin City)

Carlton Palmer - Dublin city - league of ireland

Palmer didn’t stay long at Dublin City – Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Carlton Palmer entered the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday on the back of 18 England caps and a trip to the 1992 European Championships with England. He continued his excellent form and soon was the subject of a high priced transfer to Leeds United. He’d go on to play in the Premier League well into his 30s but he didn’t make his LOI debut until 2004, then 38! Palmer was persuaded to join the now-defunct Dublin City by manager Roddy Collins. He didn’t stay long though as a media job with the BBC was easier on his aging knees.

Midfield; Keith Fahey (St Patrick’s Athletic, Drogheda United/ Birmingham City)

Keith fahey st patrick's athletic league of ireland

Fahey has signed for his 3rd spell with St Pats – David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Being the genesis for this article, we couldn’t really leave out Fahey could we? His performance at St Pats had him widely regarded as the best player in the league in January 2009 he earned a move to Birmingham City. Helping them get promoted that season, Fahey would spend 2 full seasons in the Premier League with the highlight being the League Cup final win over Arsenal in 2011. That added to the 2003 League Cup he won with Pats. A republic of Ireland international as recently as last season, Fahey’s return to Inchicore has garnered a fair bit of media attention.

Midfield; Wes Hoolahan (Shelbourne/ Norwich City)

wes hoolahan shelbourne league of ireland

Pictured here in 2005, Hoolahan was already a LOI veteran by then – David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Winner of the 2002/03 PFAI Young Player of the Year award with Shelbourne, many LOI pundits believed the skillful Hoolhan had taken a step down when he left for Livingstone in 2006. Scouts in England agreed and he was starring for the a resurgent Blackpool within months and in 2011 he made his Premier League debut with Norwich. It was around this time that Eamon Dunphy discovered Hoolahan, championing the cause of (then) 29 year old Hoolahan as the solution to Ireland’s lack of creativity in midfield.

Striker; David Kelly (Sunderland/Derry City)

David kelly derry city league of ireland

Kelly’s last game was the 2002 FAI Cup final – Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

David Kelly is best known for his intentional career. Scoring a hat trick on his Ireland debut was pretty good but Kelly will always be remembered for scoring the goal to put Ireland 1 up against England before rioting stopped the Lansdowne Road friendly in 1995. Kelly only played one season in the Premier League and failed to score as Sunderland were relegated in 1997/97. In 2002 he signed a short term deal with Derry City and helped them to win the FAI Cup.

Striker; Kevin Doyle (St Patrick’s Athletic, Cork City / Reading, Wolverhampton Wanderers)

kevin doyle cork city league of ireland

Doyle won the league in 2005 with Cork – David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Doyle started his LOI career with St Patrick’s Athletic but followed manager Pat Dolan to Cork City for the start of the 2003 season. He soon became the hottest property in the league and helped fire Cork to the top of the league in 2005 before departing for Reading that summer. By October he was a full international and now has over 50 caps and more goals for his country than any current player not named Robbie Keane.

So that’s our XI. Who do you think should have made the cut? Premier League winner Jeff Kenna, current stars like Shane Long? James McLean? Conor Sammon? Do let us know…