PA Sport

Squad profiles: Ireland

Squad profiles: Ireland
By Reuters

02/06/2012 at 19:18

We profile the players who will represent Ireland at Euro 2012.


Shay Given (Aston Villa) Born: 20.4.76 Caps: 121 Goals: 0. Ireland's most-capped player, Given made his debut against Russia in 1996. He started out at Celtic in Scotland before moving south to England and the Premier League. Almost ever-present in the national side since his debut, he kept goal for Ireland at the 2002 World Cup and won his 100th cap against Montenegro in 2009.

Keiren Westwood (Sunderland) Born: 23.10.84 Caps: 8 Goals: 0. Ireland's second-choice goalkeeper made his competitive debut against Macedonia in a Euro 2012 qualifier in March 2011, in place of the injured Given. He came close to leaving football altogether after being released by Manchester City in 2004 but instead signed for Carlisle United, where a run of 131 games earned him a move to Coventry City.

David Forde (Millwall) Born: 20.12.79 Caps: 2 Goals: 0 Made his name in Ireland's domestic league before moving to Cardiff and, in 2008, to Millwall, where he has enjoyed considerable success, earning promotion to the English second tier. Made his international debut against Northern Ireland in the 2011 Carling Nations Cup in Dublin.


John O'Shea (Sunderland) Born: 3.4.81 Caps: 75 Goals: 1 O'Shea made his name at Manchester United, where he won five Premier League titles as well as the UEFA Champions League. During his 12 years at Old Trafford, he played in every position, including goalkeeper. Signed for Sunderland in July 2011. His first international appearance, against Croatia in 2001, ended badly when he came on as an 84th-minute substitute and conceded a penalty that allowed Croatia to equalise.

Richard Dunne (Aston Villa) Born: 21.9.79 Caps: 71 Goals: 8 A powerful centre-back, Dunne made his breakthrough at Everton before moving in 2000 to Manchester City where he clashed with then-manager Kevin Keegan over his off-field activities. Despite leaving for Aston Villa in 2009, he remains a favourite among City fans. Dunne is Ireland's key man in defence and it was his heroic performance in a scoreless draw away to Russia that paved the way for Euro 2012 qualification.

Stephen Kelly (Fulham) Born: 6.9.83 Caps: 29: Goals: 0 Another versatile defender who can cover in the centre, Dublin-born Kelly usually plies his trade as full-back for club and country. Signed for Tottenham Hotspur in 2000 and represented Ireland at the 2003 World Youth Championships. Made his debut for Ireland in 2006 while playing for Birmingham City. Captained his country for the first time in a friendly against Uruguay in March 2011.

Sean St Ledger (Leicester City) Born: 28.12.84 Caps: 25 Goals: 2 A tough, skilful central defender, St Ledger has yet to make an impression at the highest level of club football despite some excellent performances on the international stage. Scored a diving header against Italy to secure a place for Ireland in the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup, which they then lost in controversial circumstances to France. Likely to be paired with Dunne in central defence if both are fit.

Stephen Ward (Wolverhampton Wanderers) Born: 20.8.85 Caps: 10 Goals: 2 Now first-choice left back for Ireland, Ward started out as a striker for Dublin club Bohemians, where his performances won him a move to England and Wolverhampton Wanderers. A move to left midfield followed before he converted to left-back in 2008. Called up to the Irish squad in 2011, he made a goal-scoring debut against Northern Ireland in the Carling Nations Cup.

Paul McShane (Hull City) Born: 6.1.86 Caps: 26 Goals: 0 Taken to England by Manchester United, McShane won the FA Youth Cup but never played a first-team game for the Premier League titans. Skilful but erratic, he has made a series of moves and loans around mid-ranking English clubs. Made his debut against Czech Republic in 2006 and was a regular for a time before slipping down the pecking order.

Darren O'Dea (Leeds United) Born: 4.2.87 Caps: 13 Goals: 0 A former Celtic captain, O'Dea can play at left back or in the centre of defence. Having appeared in the Champions League group stages for the Scottish club, he hit a rocky patch and went on loan to Reading, Ipswich and Leeds in search of first-team football. Made his Ireland debut in September 2009 in a friendly against South Africa.


Damien Duff (Fulham) Born 2.3.79 Caps: 95 Goals: 8 Duff was outstanding in the 2002 World Cup, Ireland's last appearance at a major tournament. Started his career in England with Blackburn Rovers before joining Chelsea, where he won two Premier League titles. A move to Newcastle followed before he returned to London and Fulham. A tricky, old-fashioned winger, the left-footed Duff is often deployed on the right by Giovanni Trapattoni, allowing him to cut inside and shoot for goal.

Glenn Whelan (Stoke City) Born 13.1.84 Caps: 37 Goals: 2 A Trapattoni favourite, Whelan is likely to partner Keith Andrews in central midfield in Poland. Often criticised for his lack of creativity, Whelan curbs his attacking instincts in order to fit in with the manager's tactical system. Made his senior debut against Serbia in 2008. An excellent striker of the ball, he has scored only twice for Ireland but remains a threat from long distance.

Keith Andrews (West Bromwich Albion) Born 13.9.80 Caps 27 Goals: 3 A latecomer to international football, Andrews made his debut against Poland in a friendly in Dublin in 2008 and has been almost ever-present alongside Whelan in Ireland's midfield when fit. Known for his tough tackling and tireless running, Andrews was a key member of the qualifying squad, making seven appearances and scoring once. Now playing in the Premier League with West Brom, he has spent much of his career outside the top flight of English football.

Darron Gibson (Everton) Born: 25.10.87 Caps: 17 Goals: 1 The Northern Irish-born central midfielder spent seven seasons at Manchester United but failed to make a breakthrough before moving to Everton in January. Played for Northern Ireland at underage level but chose to represent the Republic and made his debut shortly before his 20th birthday. Has remained behind Whelan and Andrews in the midfield pecking order during Trapattoni's reign.

Paul Green (Derby County) Born 10.4.83 Caps: 10 Goals: 1 English-born Green was picked by Trapattoni for the first time in May 2010 and scored on his second appearance against Algeria in the same month. The 29-year-old midfielder, who joined Derby County in 2008 after seven years with lowly Doncaster Rovers, is a squad favourite of Trapattoni but was badly exposed in a rare start at home to Russia during the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Currently a free agent.

Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow) Born 4.4.86 Caps: 47 Goals: 2 The squad's second-most decorated player, having won three league titles during seven years with Celtic during which he was voted 2008 Scottish Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, McGeady moved to Spartak two years later. A slow starter internationally, McGeady wore the green jersey for the first time in 2004 but had to wait seven years for his first goal, against Macedonia. All but certain to start on the right wing in Poland.

Stephen Hunt (Wolverhampton Wanderers) Born: 1.8.81 Caps: 38 Goals: 1 A fiery and hard-working winger, Hunt, 30, is probably best known for an accidental clash with Petr Cech in 2006 which left the Chelsea goalkeeper with a fractured skull and prompted him to wear head protection in every game since. Hunt, who played in the lower reaches of English football with Brentford before making his name at Reading, has been a constant in Irish squads since 2007 and made some telling substitute appearances during Euro 2012 qualifying.

James McClean (Sunderland) Born: 22.4.89 Caps: 1 Goals: 0 Virtually unheard of five months ago, winger McClean was picked for Sunderland for the first time in manager Martin O'Neill's first game in charge and has been instrumental in the side's resurgence this season. Initially ignored by Trapattoni when he picked his squad for a friendly against Czech Republic in February, McClean became a late addition and made his international bow to a standing ovation at the Aviva Stadium.


Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) Born: 8.7.90 Caps: 114 Goals: 53 Tied for 16th in the list of top international goalscorers of all time, Keane has averaged almost a goal every other game since making his international debut at the age of 17 and became the country's highest ever goalscorer almost eight years ago. Ireland's captain has moved around a lot during his club career, winding up at LA Galaxy via spells at Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Aston Villa.

Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers) Born: 18.9.83 Caps: 46 Goals: 10 Doyle was signed by Reading from Cork City for a snip in 2005 and made an immediate impact. The striker, who has since moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers, made his Irish debut in 2006 and has started most games beside Keane as a target man for Trapattoni.

Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion) Born: 22.1.87 Caps: 25 Goals: 7 Part of the same deal in which Doyle moved to Reading from Cork City, Long had to bide his time a little longer at the English side but impressed sufficiently over subsequent seasons to earn a multi-million-pound move to West Bromwich Albion last summer. A talented hurler in his youth, Long has scored seven times since playing for Ireland for the first time in 2007 and is putting pressure on Doyle for a place in the starting XI for Poland.

Simon Cox (West Bromwich Albion) Born: 28.4.87 Caps: 11 Goals 3 Another striker who spent his formative years at Reading, Cox got his first taste of first-team football at lower league Swindon Town before moving to West Bromwich Albion in 2009. Possessing the kind of dogged determination Trapattoni adores, Cox has had plenty of game time under the Italian despite starting only a few games in the Premier League this season.

Jonathan Walters (Stoke City) Born: 20.9.83 Caps: 5 Goals: 1 Walters was dropped from Ireland's squad last August after opting out of the May series of friendlies but made the most when given a second chance, scoring his first international goal in the Euro 2012 play-off win over Estonia. The much-travelled, rangy forward, who can also play on the right wing, settled down at Stoke City in 2010 and has been an important part of their Premier League consolidation since.