There should be a strong Cork flavour to Mick McCarthy's Irish team against Gibraltar

There should be a strong Cork flavour to Mick McCarthy's Irish team against Gibraltar

Former Cork City striker Seanie Maguire and Bishopstown's John Egan at Ireland training. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

THE Euro 2020 qualification campaign kicks off for Mick McCarthy’s Republic Of Ireland side this Saturday evening away to Gibraltar, 5pm.

McCarthy will be keen to get off to a great start on Saturday and in the Georgia game also at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night next.

Here The Echo picks an Ireland starting eleven for that opening clash in the Victoria Stadium in Gibraltar.

1. Darren Randolph: A reliable and influential presence in the Irish team, Randolph has kept 16 clean sheets for Middlesbrough in the English Championships this campaign.

One of the only Ireland players that came away with any credit after a disappointing 2018.

2. Seamus Coleman: Coleman is a real leader in this Irish side and can be useful both in defence and attack when on full form.

Although his club form has been mixed this term at Everton, he is still unquestionably among the highest calibre of player Ireland call upon.

4. Shane Duffy: The Brighton man will be a key player in this campaign for Mick McCarthy’s side one feels very much.

On top of his solid and good defensive aerial ability, in recent times he has also been one of this Irish side’s main attacking threats.

5. John Egan: The Bishopstown native has been key element of Sheffield United’s promotion push in the Championship, making a total of 37 starts in the league.

The 26-year-old is in excellent form at club level and based on that would be well deserving of a starting berth in the opening sequence of Ireland qualifiers.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and John Egan celebrate the win over Leeds recently.
Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and John Egan celebrate the win over Leeds recently.

3. Enda Stevens: Stevens has been very impressive for Sheffield United in their promotion push this term.

He is a good assist maker for the Blades. Following the retirement of Stephen Ward, there is a gap to be filled on this position and Stevens is well capable of holding down this as his own.

7. Matt Doherty: Unquestionably the most in-form Irish player at the moment, with Wolves, Doherty has been getting rave reviews all season long. If he can replicate his club displays at international level, it could be very exciting times ahead for Ireland.

He has been in outstanding form for Wolves bombing forward on the wings, a crucial element in the side’s progression to the FA Cup semi final and current 7th placed positioning in the Premier League table.

6. Conor Hourihane: A very technically gifted player on the ball and also decent with set pieces, Bandon man Hourihane could provide a strong creative force in the attacking third for Ireland.

He has been in impressive form at club level in recent years, this term scoring six goals and providing ten assists for Aston Villa. Now he’ll want to be that creative force onto the international stage.

Conor Hourihane during at Ireland training. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Conor Hourihane during at Ireland training. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

8. Jeff Hendrick: Although Hendrick has not been in the best of form at club level, a clean slate with Ireland could potentially lead to an upturn in form.

At Euro 2016 he was to show what he is capable of when he is on song. Playing under Mick McCarthy’s style of football could suit him.

11. Robbie Brady: The Burnley midfielder can provide a great threat to the side with his crossing ability from out wide.

One of Ireland’s best performers at Euro 2016, Brady’s creativity could be crucial in unlock defences during qualifying.

9. David McGoldrick: The move to Sheffield United has been a very good one for the career of David McGoldrick and he is a player Irish boss Mick McCarthy is very fond of.

Less than a year after being released by Ipswich, McGoldrick is in the best form of his club career with the Blades, scoring 12 Championship goals so far this season.

10. Seanie Maguire: Although hampered by some injuries over the last year and a bit, Maguire has always had that ability to find the back of the net when lining out for Preston North End.

Craig Bryson of Derby County evades Sean Maguire. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Craig Bryson of Derby County evades Sean Maguire. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Euro 2020 qualifying campaign provides an opportunity for the former Cork City star to cement the Ireland forward position as his own. His pace on Saturday could cause Gibraltar numerous problems.

The Echo’s Ireland XI v Gibraltar (4-2-3-1): Darren Randolph; Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Enda Stevens; Matt Doherty, Conor Hourihane, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady; David McGoldrick, Sean Maguire.

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