Ireland's position in the football world summed up in 14 transfers
Nobody seems to want us any more. After enduring Tbilisi 2017, we can understand why.
Off the back of Euro 2016, Irish football appeared to be in a great place. In Jeff Hendrick, Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady, a new generation of leaders had emerged.
Callum O'Dowda, Cyrus Christie and Shane Duffy were more young stars staking claims for regular spots, Jack Byrne had joined Blackburn from Manchester City and Daryl Horgan was on the verge of a move to England after impressing with Dundalk. Harry Arter had missed the championships but was committed to the Irish cause.
Having performed admirably against Sweden, Italy and, in defeat, France, Irish stock was as high as it had been in years. Norwich priced Brady out of a move to Premier League champions Leicester City while Hendrick was attracting interest from Serie A and Turkish giants Galatasaray. Both were signed up by Burnley - going from Championship to Premier League.
In the summer transfer window for 2016/17, some 25 Irish players were snapped up by clubs in England.
This time out, with transfer fees sky-rocketing and clubs making rash calls as money was flung around and agents touted talent, the Irish were largely ignored. Only 14 transfers involving Irish players went through.
Aside from three players moving from the Airtricity League to England, not a single player moved up. All moves were either sidways [ie: Jon Walters from Stoke to Burnley] or down.
- Sean Maguire - Cork City to Preston
- Graham Kelly - Sheffield United to Port Vale
- Conor Wilkinson - Bolton to Gillingham
- Kevin O'Connor - Cork City to Preston
- Niall Keown - Reading to Partick
- Cyrus Christie - Derby to Middlesbro
- Jon Walters - Stoke to Burnley
- Aiden McGeady - Everton to Sunderland
- Courtney Duffus - Everton to Oldham
- Glenn Whelan - Stoke to Aston Villa
- Daryl Murphy - Newcastle to Nottingham Forest
- Darren Randolph - West Ham to Middlesbro
- Rory Holden - Derry City to Bristol City
- Marc Wilson - Bournemouth to Sunderland
Only Christie could claim to have improved his lot but he has moved between Championship clubs.
Irish players are simply not attracting serious attention, not only from the bigger clubs but even sides in the second tier.
During a summer which saw Neymar Jr. move to PSG from Barcelona for €220m, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain [out of contract in June 2018] switch from Arsenal to Liverpool for €42m and Ousmane Dembélé join Barca for an initial outlay of €104m, Randolph's move to Middlesbro for £5m was the leading Irish transfer.
English clubs must have a certain quota of home-grown players in their squads but many of the Irish players that head over at an early stage qualify as they have been in the country for a set amount of years.
We may crow about how Irish players are being ignored and some of those complaints would be justified. Martin O'Neill does not help matters by leaving some top young talents out of his wider squads. Look at Chris Coleman including Ben Woodburn (17) and Ethan Ampadu (16) in his most recent Wales squad. The exposure to senior talents would help bring them on and a couple of international caps would attract attention from clubs.
However, any scout watching Ireland's long-ball hoofing and squandering of possession against Georgia would be forgiven if he returned to his superiors and told them 'Nothing doing'.
While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Donegal pro boxer Jason Quigley, Cork Camogie star Ashling Thompson, alongside the ever-brilliant Dion Fanning in the studio!
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