With the lure of more money abroad, it’s inevitable that Irish talent will get poached. Of course the option of testing themselves at a higher level also appeals to any player thinking of making the jump, but – and understandably so – so too does the opportunity to earn an extra buck or two and secure them and their family’s future. We’d all do it, wouldn’t we?
There is huge money in England with sponsorship deals and vast sums of money coming in from various revenue streams. Irish football is a long way behind in that respect, although perhaps more money will enter Irish football in the future. Casino sites and bookmakers are becoming more and more prominent – Irish people can now play casino games at casino.com, for example – but other big business needs to enter these shores too if League of Ireland sides are to stand any chance of holding onto their star players or if a promising young talent is to stay on for an extra year or two. Money talks, particularly in modern football.
Much like we see in the Premier League which, granted, is a worldwide league that Irish football will simply never be able to compete with, bookmakers, food brands and all sorts are onboard, with clubs even branching out to esports these days too. Can League of Ireland sides do more, perhaps? Ultimately, that’s for them to answer but until change happens, Irish talent will continually be poached.
So, without further ado, we thought we’d go through some of the best exports from the League of Ireland.
An obvious choice really, but Seamus Coleman is most definitely one of the best players to have come out of the League of Ireland. Learning his trade at Sligo Rovers between 2006-09, Coleman joined the Toffees for a modest £60,000 fee – an absolute steal judging by the impact he’s made on Merseyside. Over the last eight years, barring a few horrific recent injuries, Coleman has been an integral part of Everton’s rise and is a firm fans favourite.
People tend to forget that Roy Keane spent one season with Cobh Ramblers between 1989-1990, where he was then subsequently snapped up by Nottingham Forest, before earning his eventual move to Manchester United. The rest is history, as they say, and Keane went on to become one of the club’s greatest ever captains, winning seven Premier League titles, as well as four FA Cups and a Champions League.
Perhaps forgotten by many, Paul McGrath played at Richmond Park between 1981-1982 before Ron Atkinson took him to the biggest club in the world, Manchester United. It was his time at Aston Villa where McGrath really made a name for himself in England, though, with Villains fans rightly regarding him as one of their best players ever. A few personal issues got in the way at times, but McGrath’s move to England worked out well, that’s for sure.
Steve Staunton started out at his local side Dundalk in the 1985-1986 League of Ireland season, before eventually earning his life-changing move to Liverpool. Signed for just £20,000, Staunton ended up winning the FA Cup in 1989 and a league title in 1990 whilst at Anfield, before eventually joining Aston Villa, winning two league cups during his time there.
Former Cork City player Shane Long made the switch to Reading in 2005. Now at Southampton, the pacy striker is an established Premier League player, who has also played for the likes of Hull City and West Brom too.