| 6.8°C Dublin

fading force Revealed: Alarming lack of minutes played by Ireland's Premier League stars this season

Coleman and Duffy lead way but national team facing major hurdle

Close

Everton's Seamus Coleman: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Everton's Seamus Coleman: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Everton's Seamus Coleman: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

IT has been a story chipping away at Ireland's hopes on the world stage for the last decade - now some grim statistics confirm the slide in fortunes for our international players appears to be terminal.

Success at the highest level of the game is viable if the Ireland manager can pick players performing consistently with the game's top teams, but that's no longer an option for national team boss Stephen Kenny as he looks to revive Irish fortunes.

As 2021 draws to a close, a year that saw Ireland fail miserably in their World Cup qualifying campaign, we now have confirmation that England's top flight no longer has room for the best players emerging from these shores.

Captain Seamus Coleman, his vice-captain Shane Duffy and Newcastle's Ciaran Clark are the only Ireland players starting fairly regularly in the Premier League, with nearly all the rest of our representatives in the top flight struggling to get game time for clubs in the bottom half of the table.

Here is your Sunday World guide to the Ireland players who have played in the Premier League so far this season, with the lack of minutes notched up by Kenny's men an alarming snapshot of the decline in standards, or opportunities, for our top players.

SEAMUS COLEMAN

Club: Everton

Minutes played: 1,170

The Ireland skipper has been leading from the front for Everton amid a challenging period under the management of Rafael Benitez.

Yet Coleman has made some high-profile errors and has come under fire at times from Toffees fans. He remains a shining light for Irish players in the Premier League.

SHANE DUFFY

Club: Brighton

Minutes played: 1,134

The success story of the season so far, Duffy has bounced back from a challenging first half of 2021, while on loan in Scotland with Celtic, to make his mark in the Brighton side. He also looked back to his best in the second half of this World Cup qualifying campaign with Ireland and will certainly be a key man for club and country next year.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

CIARAN CLARK

Club: Newcastle

Minutes played: 993

At fault for Manchester City's opening goal in their 4-0 win at St James' Park last Sunday, and that has not been Clark's only error this season.

He may well be replaced in the Newcastle defence as manager Eddie Howe will look to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window.

NATHAN COLLINS

Club: Burnley

Minutes played: 450

This 20-year-old from Leixlip has a bright future. He has been handed some first-team chances by manager Sean Dyche this season and is still a developing talent.

Collins offers hope that Ireland have another Premier League star in the making.

ANDREW OMOBAMIDELE

Club: Norwich

Minutes played: 381

The Dubliner caught the eye playing for Ireland and, at the age of 19, he has time on his side to cement himself as a Premier League defender. Shining in a Norwich side out-of-their-depth in the top flight is no easy task.

ADAM IDAH

Club: Norwich

Minutes played: 263

The Corkman would have been hoping for more starts this season, yet Idah has made 10 appearances from the bench and will be eager to build on that in the second half of the season. He did get a start against Crystal Palace on Tuesday, but chances are not coming his way.

AARON CONNOLLY

Club: Brighton

Minutes played: 155

Close

Brighton's Aaron Connolly celebrates scoring his second goal against Swansea. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Brighton's Aaron Connolly celebrates scoring his second goal against Swansea. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Brighton's Aaron Connolly celebrates scoring his second goal against Swansea. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

One of the bright hopes from the crop of Irish youngsters looking to burst through, Connolly's career has stalled since his breakthrough two years ago. He has not scored in the Premier League since January 2020.

SHANE LONG

Club: Southampton

Minutes played: 107

The 34-year-old striker has been a fringe player at Southampton for several seasons and his last Premier League goal came in February 2020. While he started in the game against Tottenham on Tuesday, Long may be a candidate to go out on loan in January for a second successive season.

MATT DOHERTY

Close

12 October 2021; Matt Doherty of Republic of Ireland during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Qatar at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

12 October 2021; Matt Doherty of Republic of Ireland during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Qatar at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

12 October 2021; Matt Doherty of Republic of Ireland during the international friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Qatar at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Club: Tottenham

Minutes played: 99

The curious fall from grace for Doherty has continued at Spurs, with Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and Antonio Conte all deciding he is surplus to requirements. He got some minutes in the game at Southampton on Tuesday, but a move in next month's transfer window may be the best option for this experienced full-back.

CAOIMHIN KELLEHER

Club: Liverpool

Minutes played: 90

Kelleher is fighting it out to be Liverpool's No.2 keeper and he did well in his only Premier League appearance this season at Norwich. Ireland are blessed to have two quality keepers who will be part of the international set-up for a decade, with Gavin Bazunu the current No 1 for Kenny.

JEFF HENDRICK

Club: Newcastle

Minutes played: 70

A midfielder who has lost his way in recent years, injuries and loss of form have affected Hendrick, and it would be no surprise if he moves on from Newcastle in next month's transfer window.

He has not started a game in the Premier League this season.

WILL SMALLBONE

Club: Southampton

Minutes played: 70

Southampton have high hopes that Smallbone will emerge as a Premier League star. He was a starter for manager Ralph Hasenhuttl against Crystal Palace earlier this month after returning to full fitness following an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy