Four Ireland players set for better things after EURO 2016

Despite Ireland exiting the European Championships, a number of players did their career prospects plenty of good with some excellent performances.

With the likes of Robbie Keane, Shay Given and John O’Shea unlikely to feature much, if at all, in the future, it’s time for a new generation of talent to step up and cement their spot in the national side.

As well as that, a few have no doubt put themselves in the shop window and could now be on the radar of clubs looking to bolster their squad for next season.

 

Robbie Brady

The hero against Italy with a late headed winner, Robbie Brady then kept a cool head to give Ireland a second minute lead from the penalty spot against France in Sunday’s last 16 game.

Having started the tournament at left back, the 24-year-old was given a more advanced role when injury ruled Jonathan Walters out of action, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

For me personally to get a couple of goals, I’ll always be able to look back on them. Not just the goals, there are different moments like at the end, standing in front of the fans; it’s something you’ll never forget.

Brady was part of the Norwich City side that was relegated from the Premier League last season, his second successive drop from the top flight having also gone down with Hull City in 2015.

The former St. Kevin’s Boys schoolboy and Manchester United academy product did his chances of a Premier League return a lot of good in France, and has already been linked with a move to Leicester City.

With a sweet left foot and great composure on the ball, Brady is a player that Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane can build the Ireland team around for years to come.

Jeff Hendrick

A bit-part player for Championship side Derby County, Jeff Hendrick came into the Euros underdone match fitness wise but it didn’t take long for him to become a prominent component of the Irish midfield.

Overshadowing more established internationals James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan, the 24-year-old showed great work ethic and composure on the ball as he played every minute of the four games.

He was unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet – Hendrick was denied by the crossbar against Sweden, while a sweetly hit left foot shot went just wide against Italy.

Hendrick himself said that he felt underused by Derby last season and they may want to rethink his role in the team or he could be on the move elsewhere.

Another product of St. Kevin’s Boys in Dublin, Hendrick should be a mainstay in the Irish team for the upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign which kicks off in September.

 

Shane Duffy

The Italy game was the first time that Shane Duffy had started a competitive contest for Ireland, and he performed well to keep a clean sheet alongside Richard Keogh, whom he had never played with before.

Having begun his career in England with Everton, Duffy was loaned out to Burnley, Scunthorpe United and Yeovil Town before departing Goodison Park for Blackburn Rovers in September 2014.

Last season he played in 41 league games and won the club’s Goal of the Season award for his effort against Brentford in March of this year.

Another player who is just 24, Duffy dominates in the air and is surprisingly quick on the ground for someone who stands at 6ft 4ins tall.

At international level, Duffy was an underage player for Northern Ireland before opting to switch to the Republic in 2010.

A freak incident in an Ireland training match left Duffy needing life saving surgery on his liver but he recovered fully and returned to action just ten weeks later.

With John O’Shea possibly calling it a day after EURO 2016, Duffy now has a big chance to cement a place in the team, even though the red card against France will rule him out of the opening World Cup qualifier.

 

Darren Randolph

West Ham United back up goalkeeper Darren Randolph was one of Ireland’s best performers at the Euros having only gotten a run in the team after replacing Shay Given in the 44th minute of last October’s qualifier against Germany.

It was Randolph’s long punt up field that gave Shane Long the opportunity to score that game’s only goal, and the Bray native has proven to be very assured with the ball at his feet.

A very agile shot stopper, Randolph began his professional career at Charlton Athletic and played 14 first team game, while also spending time out of loan.

It took a move to Scottish side Motherwell for Randolph to become a first choice between the posts, and he spent three seasons with the club before switching to Birmingham City in the Championship.

At 29, Randolph is heading towards his peak and is no doubt itching for some regular football at Premier League level having spent a season backing up Adrian at Upton Park.

Author Details

Neil Sherwin
Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com. Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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