They’re the men who will fly the flag for Ireland at Euro 2012, our first major finals for ten years. Póg Mo Goal takes a look at the Boys in Green, starting with the defence.
What would we do without Shay? Consistently still among the best ‘keepers in the Premier League, he has saved his country on countless occasions. Such is Ireland’s status as underdogs going into Euro 2012, we need Shay to be at the top of his powers. The good news for us is that Given always is. When we faced Italy and Gianluigi Buffon in World Cup 2010 qualifiers, it was billed as the meeting of the two best goalkeepers in the world. They resume the rivalry on June 18.
BRRAAAP! Westwood has proved a more than capable deputy to Given when called into service. At club level he has struggled to break into the Sunderland team. God forbid anything should happen to Shay but Westwood has proved reliable.
Another to have made a name for himself in the League of Ireland, Forde had spells at hometown club Galway and Derry before making his name at Millwall. He made his début when coming as a sub for Shay Given in the Carling Nations Cup game against Northern Ireland. The 6ft 2” custodian then had a dream first start when keeping a clean-sheet in the famous friendly victory against Italy in Belgium. How he’d love to be part of a squad that repeats the feat at Euro 2012.
Kelly has become a firm favourite of Trapattoni having being deployed in every area of the back-four. The Fulham defender says he’s comfortable anywhere in the rear-guard making him one of Trap’s first-choices from the bench should things look shaky.
The real Mr. Versatile, Sheasy will start the Euros at right-back but he too can operate anywhere in defence. Despite all his success at Manchester United, the glaring omission from his CV was the lack of an appearance at major international tournament. All that experience gained at Old Trafford will be vital as Ireland will look to O’Shea for leadership.
McShane has his critics and the Man United apprentice never fulfilled that potential but he is another who Trap has put his faith in, promoted from the stand-by list at the first sign of injury problems for the first-choice squad. He’ll never win over every Irish fan but he didn’t put a foot wrong in the warm-up games. If he does the same if called upon in Poland, he’ll have repaid the management’s trust.
The Honey Monster is like the gates in a pin-ball machine constantly trying to repel an onslaught of shots that originate further up the pitch. At club level, he can be considered cumbersome, giving away more than his fair share of own goals, and earning plenty of bookings. Put him in an Irish shirt and he’s a man mountain. Like Shay Given, Dunney is going to be worked over-time. Repeat the heroics of Moscow and anything is possible for Ireland.
Sean St. Ledger
Another of the Irish squad who struggles as club level but has learned the art of last-gasp defending from his international partner Dunne. He can be clumsy and his passing can be poor but he makes up for it in effort.
Much has been made that Paul Green is now an unattached player in the Irish squad but it has slipped under the radar that O’Dea now shares that ignominy. But once more demonstrating that this Irish side is more than the sum of its parts, O’Dea has been solid whenever called upon. When pitched alongside Dunne, he slots in comfortably but when the Tallaght Tank is missing, O’Dea can look nervous.
He displaced Irish hero Kevin Kilbane left-back with a string of solid displays but of late cracks have appeared, not least in the most recent clash with Hungary. Needs protection from whoever lines out on the left of midfield but Ward’s bravery is unquestionable. Another from the League of Ireland production line.