Where Are They Now? Ireland’s Play-Off Heroes Tracked Down
Republic of Ireland’s play-off record isn’t much to write home about, but at least they recorded a win against Estonia last time out, earning themselves a spot at the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine.
The Irish had the tie wrapped up with 4-0 a away win in Tallinn, before playing out a 1-1 draw in front of the home crowd at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Today we had a look at the line up that day to uncover the names who survived to face Bosnia and what happened to those who took different paths…
Fresh from a loan spell at Middlesbrough where he kept 10 clean sheets in 16 games, the veteran goalkeeper is now warming the bench at Stoke City backing up England hope Jack Butland. His latest Capital One Cup appearance featured a penalty shootout, but the Lifford man failed to keep out 7 of the 8 spot kicks he faced, the other hitting the bar.
The “Mayor of Waterford” as he was known at United is still plying his trade in the Premier League with Sunderland and is suspended after seeing red in Ireland’s last game against Poland. It may not have mattered anyway, he is also struggling to make the second leg due to a hamstring injury. His study for coaching badges is well underway so maybe a career in the dugout beckons for big John.
Sean St Ledger
The ex Preston man started a new chapter in his career this year when he signed for MLS side Orlando City in March. His stay in Florida was short lived however. He was ditched after a ‘serious breach of club policy’ with one Orlando newspaper reporting he missed a flight after a game against New York City in July. He allegedly stayed in NYC for days with a team mate and has now been snapped up by another MLS outfit, Colorado Rapids.
The stalwart defender and top Premier League goalscorer of all time (for own goals) was released by QPR after 64 appearances and one goal (at the right end). He retired from international football in 2014 but is still available as a free agent for any club managers reading who may have a shortfall at centre half.
Southpaw full back and Dublin born Ward scored in the 2nd leg against Estonia in 2011 and went on to play all 3 games for Republic of Ireland at Euro 2012. He has survived to make the squad for Bosnia and is currently earning his dollar at Championship high-fliers Burnley.
The legendary winger went on to play down under with Melbourne City FC where he lined up alongside the likes of David Villa. He has returned to his native Dublin to play for Shamrock Rovers where he says the only thing he’s taking from the club is “the loan of a Hyundai until I sort my situation out. Otherwise, every penny I get – whether it be bonuses, incentives, appearance money or whatever – is all going to charity.”
The reliable midfield man is still there. Still playing for Stoke, still playing for Ireland and still getting stick from the ruthless tongue of Eamon Dunphy. Bosnia ‘keeper Asmir Begovic says he’s the workhorse who does the dirty work for club and country without getting the plaudits. Dunphy begs to differ.
Andrews (the one on the right below) had brief loan spells at Brighton, Watford and MK Dons before hanging up his boots in August this year. He is now a first team coach at MK Dons who are languishing just above the relegation zone in the Championship.
0 goals in 38 games for Ipswich and Stephen Hunt is on the lookout for his 7th club. This week he joined ex-team mates Stephen Kelly and Leon Best on trial at Rotherham United, lying bottom of the Championship and desperately in need of points.
The top Irish goalscorer of all time remains a force to be reckoned with, against MLS defenders at least. Tallaght’s most famous son has already notched 73 goals for LA Galaxy and may provide the goal threat for the Boys in Green in the absence of Jon Walters and Shane Long.
Doyle’s goals for Ireland may have come against the likes of San Marino, Andorra, Costa Rica and Oman, but the dyed-blonde bombshell was popular with the fans due to his tireless work rate. He is now playing alongside his old buddy Sean St Ledger at MLS outfit Colorado Rapids and yes, he’s in the squad to face Bosnia.
Keith Fahey played for Shamrock Rovers before retiring, Aiden McGeady hasn’t scored for Everton since the first day of last season and Simon Cox, who has international caps thanks to an Irish born granny, has 0 appearances currently on loan at Bristol City.
With Keiren Westwood, Jon Walters and James McCarthy still in the squad, that only leaves Darren O’Dea. It’s a long way from Grafton Street to the Taj Mahal, but that’s the nearest landmark to the Dubliner now. He finds himself playing in the Indian Super League with Mumbai City FC, managed by a name you may have come across before, the king of sulk Nicolas Anelka.