Declan Rice has developed into one of the best midfielders in world football, but it’s fair to say that the people of Ireland haven’t forgotten his decision to defect to England.
Although born in London, Rice was eligible to play for Ireland as his grandparents are from Cork. Having been named Republic of Ireland U17 player of the year in 2017, he was included in the senior squad that faced Uruguay, Mexico and Austria that summer.
But the future West Ham captain would make his Irish bow in a 1-0 defeat against Turkey in March 2018. Eleven months, and two further Ireland appearances, later, Rice committed his international future to England.
As the 24-year-old stands on the brink of a £105million switch to Arsenal, we wondered how the rest of the XI from his Irish debut are faring these days.
GK: Colin Doyle
Doyle made his first Ireland appearance in 11 years against Turkey, marking his fourth and last international cap.
The goalkeeper was on Bradford City’s books in March 2018 and remains on their books today – but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of a nomadic career.
Born in Cork, he joined Premier League Birmingham City as a scholar in 2003 and was sent on loan a whopping six times by the Blues over the next decade; three of them were to Millwall.
After being released in 2015, Doyle has turned out for Blackpool, Hearts and Kilmarnock as well as making 88 appearances for perennial underachievers Bradford.
He remains at Valley Parade as a player-coach.
RWB: Seamus Coleman (Matt Doherty ’63)
Coleman is still an Everton (409 appearances and counting) and Ireland (63 caps and counting) stalwart at the age of 34. We’re still trying to work out whether he meant last season’s jaw-dropper against Leeds.
His replacement in Antalya has also become a Premier League staple. After helping Wolves to promotion in 2018, Doherty became a must-have for Fantasy Football users with his solid defending and penchant for goals and assists.
A move to Tottenham in 2020 didn’t work out, although Doherty is hardly alone in failing to prosper at Spurs, before a bizarre short-term switch to Atletico Madrid back in January.
Now a free agent, the full-back is expected to return to Molineux this summer.
©aptain ©lutch. pic.twitter.com/BVlcT4PTTY
— Everton (@Everton) February 18, 2023
CB: Kevin Long
A centre-back forged of granite, Long became part of the furniture at Burnley during the club’s renaissance in the 2010s.
Having arrived at Turf Moor from Cork City in 2010, the defender would only make 86 appearances for the Lancashire over-achievers for a variety of reasons.
Those 13 years at Burnley have also included loan spells at Accrington Stanley (three times), Rochdale, Portsmouth, Barnsley (twice) and MK Dons. He joined Birmingham City in January 2023.
CB: Shane Duffy
Most synonymous with Brighton during their early Premier League days, Duffy has made 51 appearances for Ireland and represented his country at the 2016 European Championship.
After a dodgy loan spell at Celtic, and a forgettable year at Fulham, the centre-back signed for Norwich City this summer as the Canaries push for a return to England’s top flight.
CB: Declan Rice
Our resident Hammer penned his own tribute to Rice after helping the club win its first trophy in 43 years.
LWB: James McClean
The Daily Mail’s favourite footballer (we jest), McClean broke through at Sunderland under Martin O’Neill and caught the eye with his fearless running and shooting ability.
The midfielder moved to Wigan in the summer of 2013, returning to the club eight years later after successful spells at West Brom and Stoke.
In June 2023, McClean became the seventh Irishman to make 100 international appearances during their European Championship qualifying victory over Gibraltar.
CM: Conor Hourihane (Ciaran Clark ’69)
A creative midfielder with Aston Villa at the time of Ireland’s trip to Turkey, Hourihane helped the famous old club return to the Premier League in 2019.
His opportunities in the top flight were limited and, having been sent on loan to Swansea and Sheffield United, Hourihane moved across the Midlands to League One side Derby County in 2022.
In June 2023, he announced that he would be joining the Aston Villa Academy in September as a coach for the Under-16s team, alongside playing for Derby.
Clark, Hourihane’s replacement in Antalya, was born in England to Irish parents and declared his allegiance to the Republic in 2010. He made 36 appearances for Ireland between 2010 and 2019.
The defender left Newcastle this summer after spending the 2022-23 campaign at Sheffield United. He is currently unattached.
CM: Alan Browne (David Meyler ’68)
Another player that came through the ranks at Cork City, Browne joined Preston North End in 2014 and, after 359 club appearances, remains at Deepdale to this very day. He has also won 30 caps for Ireland, scoring five goals.
Meyler was at Hull City in March 2018, but would retire just over a year later. A fine midfielder that won 26 caps for his country, he is probably best remembered for receiving that headbutt from Alan Pardew.
CM: Jeff Hendrick (Alan Judge ’80)
Like Clark, Hendrick was considered surplus to requirements by Newcastle United. Unlike Clark, Hendrick still remains at St James’ Park.
His exile from the Newcastle squad, while understandable given the club’s lofty ambitions, is harsh on a technically gifted midfield schemer who enjoyed the best spell of his career at Burnley.
Having spent last season on loan at Reading, Hendrick will be hoping to find first-team football at a club befitting a player with 79 international caps.
Judge made the last of his nine Ireland appearances in 2019. Then at Brentford, he spent two years at Ipswich before settling at Colchester United, where he can still be found today.
ST: Sean Maguire (Shane Long ’62)
Having been born in England, Maguire opted to play for Ireland having grown up in Kilkenny, where his parents returned when he was a couple of months old.
Coming through the ranks at Waterford United, the striker spent two years at West Ham before flip-flopping between clubs in England and Ireland. He last played for beaten Championship play-off finalists Coventry City and won 11 caps for Ireland.
His replacement in March 2018 played 88 times for the Republic of Ireland; the tireless Long was a Premier League staple at Reading, Hull City and Southampton and scored the quickest goal in the history of the competition.
Can you name the other nine?
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 26, 2019
ST: Scott Hogan (Daryl Horgan ’75)
Hogan made his international debut alongside Rice in Turkey – and with good reason. His 14 goals in 25 Championship matches at Brentford earnt him a move to Aston Villa and made the striker one of the hottest properties around.
Alas, it never really happened for Hogan at Villa Park and he moved to Birmingham City in 2020. His record of 34 goals in 129 Blues appearances isn’t bad, but he’s only played for Ireland 12 times.
Galway-native Horgan is currently unemployed after leaving Wycombe Wanderers at the end of last season.