Do Irish players in the Championship get a fair shot at playing for their country? An Ode to Kevin Kilbane

Posted by on Jul 10, 2009 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A favourite hobby of mine, and many other Irish football fans, is to Google the most recently capped Irish footballer to work out who the hell he is. Sean St Ledger? Leon Best? Martin Rowlands? It’s hard to imagine for an English football fan, but a fair few of these guys get sent out to play against Italy, France and Brazil, and aren’t always beaten.

“Of course the Irish lads in the Championship get an international chance!” I hear you shout “Who else would they pick?”. It is true that beggars can’t be choosers, but there are enough Irish players in the top tier to fill a squad, even without Stephen (I won’t play for) Ireland. The truth is that Ireland have always played a lot more like a Championship team than a Premiership team. Even back in the early 90s when Jack Charlton had a team packed with players from the top flight, the tactics consisted of chasing down and then hoofing the ball at Quinny’s head. No triangles for us, no thanks. And so ever since, squads have normally featured a handful of the better Irish players from the Championship, and they mainly take to their new environment pretty well. It does, unfortunately, lead to something I call “Kilbane syndrome”…

.. which goes a little something like this: (1) A promising young attacking player from the Championship has a good season, scores a few goals, and gets a start for Ireland. (2) Impressed by his international status and cheap cheap pricetag, a mid-table Premiership team buys him, and gives him a couple of starts. (3) By now the “Kilbane” is a regular starter in the Ireland team and has probably had the ball bounce off his arse in the penalty area and go in against Slovakia, so the Irish public think he is a cross between Pele and Brian Boru (4) Having been thoroughly found out, he is restricted to sub appearances and playing out of position. (5) Because he belongs to a Premiership team, and has played 20-odd times for his country, he continues to be selected due to his “experience” and “loyalty” (6) He gets lobbed for the third time by a Radostin Kishishev diagonal pass, and then turns the resulting cross into his own net while scrambling to get into the position he should already have been in, costing his country a vital 2 points. Again.

There is every chance of Il Trap (as they call him in Tallaght) picking promising Championship players ahead of the Kilbanes because (a) He was not particularly impressed by Andy Reid in the first place and (b) He likes his teams to chase like mad and not try anything fancy that will make them look silly, which sounds like a Championship brief to me. If the way things are going for his current team is any indicator, there could well be players from Coventry and Reading chasing like mad in Johannesburg next year.

Columbine Harvester

2 Comments

  1. Lanterne Rouge
    July 12, 2009

    Shane Long is every inch an international player I'll have you know! Great post.

    Reply
  2. Columbine Harvester
    July 13, 2009

    ..and good luck to him. I'm afraid Stephen Hunt is looking like the next “Kilbane” though. I give him a max of 2 seasons before he's playing at full-back for Sunderland.

    Reply

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