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Spotlight on: Irishmen in the EFL

17 March 2021

To mark Saint Patrick's Day, we're taking a look at just a few of the many standout Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland players plying their trade in the EFL!

Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest and Republic of Ireland) 

Nottingham Forest’s Cyrus Christie has been someone to watch over the years, both on and off the pitch, with fantastic performances that have seen him promoted to the Premier League with Fulham on two separate occasions, plus 27 international appearances for the Republic of Ireland. 

Off the field, he has been a shining example, too. An ambassador for Fulham FC Foundation during his time at the Cottage, Christie was at the forefront of many of the club’s community initiatives and projects, including work with Football Beyond Borders (FBB), Brixton Soup Kitchen and the Royal Star and Garter Home. 

His commitment and valuable contribution to the club’s local people saw him awarded with Player in the Community Award for the Championship last year. 

Wes Hoolahan (Cambridge United and Republic of Ireland) 

Wes Hoolahan is arguably one of the most recognised names in the EFL for his time at Blackpool, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion respectively. 

There is no doubt that Hoolahan will go down as a Canaries legend after spending 10 years at Carrow Road, sticking with the club through thick and thin, and from League One to the Premier League. 

Hoolahan’s influence in the EFL has not gone unnoticed, with the midfielder being included in the Football League Team of the Decade back in 2015. On the international stage, the 38-year-old scored on one of the biggest stages as the Republic of Ireland kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign with a draw against Sweden at the Stade de France. 

Hoolahan is now plying his trade at League Two Cambridge United and, with the U’s hoping for automatic promotion, this could be the fifth of Hoolahan’s career. His class continues to show!

Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough and Northern Ireland)

With 42 caps and four goals on his CV for Northern Ireland, Paddy McNair is closing in on a half century of games for his country.

First drafted into the squad following his Manchester United debut, he's got hopes of promotion back to the top-flight with Middlesbrough this season, and has played an important role under Neil Warnock in the North East, finding the net twice since the end of February.

With Northern Ireland preparing for a World Cup qualifier against Italy, he'll be hoping to carry his club form onto the international stage.

Aiden McGeady (Sunderland AFC and Republic of Ireland)

It has been a week of celebration for Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady, with the Black Cats picking up the 2021 Papa John’s Trophy on Sunday after their 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers. 

McGeady, as much as anyone in that Sunderland dressing room, would have been desperate to get his hands on the Trophy, after his double at Wembley back in 2019 against Portsmouth wasn’t enough to prevent a penalty shoot-out loss. 

The 34-year-old is no stranger in picking up silverware, winning the Scottish Premier League four times, the Scottish Cup twice and the Scottish League Cup once. 

The 2020/21 campaign has been one of McGeady’s best in a Sunderland shirt, featuring 11 assists in 18 Sky Bet League One games so far this season. 

He’s just seven international games away from making it a century of appearances for the Republic of Ireland, and if he continues with his performances for Sunderland, he’ll be hoping he can reach that milestone soon.

Josh Magennis (Hull City and Northern Ireland)

Hull City's Josh Magennis has 12 goals for the Tigers in all competitions this season, and is another player with promotion ambitions in 2020/21 as far as club action is concerned. 

The former Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers man started his professional career at Cardiff City in the Championship, and will be looking to get back there with his current side. 

At international level, Bangor-born Magennis has made 57 appearances for Northern Ireland, having started out in the youth ranks as a goalkeeper.

He made his full debut for Northern Ireland on 26 May 2010 in a friendly against Turkey, and later scored his first international goal to help ensure Northern Ireland's qualification for Euro 2016.

It's one of eight goals he's scored for his country, the most recent of which coming against Austria in the Nations League last year.

Shane Long (AFC Bournemouth and Republic of Ireland) 

After spending seven seasons at Reading at the start of his career, between the Premier League and Championship, Shane Long is back in England’s second tier with AFC Bournemouth after a nine-season absence. 

Stints with Hull City and West Bromwich Albion have been and gone, but it is with parent club Southampton where Long has arguably made his name. 

Playing in the Europa League with the Saints was a particular highlight, but becoming only the fourth Irish player to reach 50 Premier League goals, as well as scoring the fastest-ever Premier League goal, will certainly live long in the memory for the striker.

One of Long's biggest moments on the international stage came in 2015, as he stepped off the bench to net a crucial winner against world champions Germany in their 2016 Euro Qualifier at the Aviva Stadium. 

Glenn Whelan (Fleetwood Town and Republic of Ireland) 

A general in the middle of the park, Glenn Whelan has had a fantastic career and will go down as a Republic of Ireland great for his performances in a green shirt during his career. 

Although he has not found the back of the net as much as he would have liked during his 91 appearances for Ireland, to turn out for your country so often can be seen as a real achievement. 

Whelan is also no stranger to success in the EFL, picking up a runners-up medal for Stoke City in the Championship, as well as Play-Off Final winner’s medals with Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa respectively. 

At the tender age of 37, Whelan is now looking to help Fleetwood Town achieve their aspirations of promotion to the Championship. 

Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers and Northern Ireland)

One of the more experienced players in the Blackburn Rovers and Northern Ireland ranks, Corry Evans first followed his brother Jonny into the senior Northern Ireland team in June 2009, just before his 19th birthday.

Evans has played for his country at every age level, and scored on his first competitive outing a year after his debut, in a EURO 2012 qualifier in Slovenia.

The Belfast-born midfielder joined Hull City in 2011, having come up through the Manchester United youth system, and was later part of Blackburn's League One promotion-winning side in 2017/18.

He's made 12 appearances in the Sky Bet Championship so far in 2020/21, with plenty of competition for places in the Rovers midfield.

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