Damien Duff better than Steve Heighway? Richard Dunne ahead of Charlie Hurley? And where's Clinton Morrison?!
Yes, the problem with lists is that, by their very nature, they're never going to be completely definitive and, when selected by the public – as with the Soccer Republic website's poll to find the 50 greatest Irish players of all time – are always going to lean towards the latter day. How else to explain the fact Alan Kelly jnr is ahead of his father – commonly considered to be Ireland's greatest 'keeper – or that the iconic Johnny Carey, who dominated the Irish side for two decades, doesn't make the top 10? A certain amount of this is understandable since people are naturally reluctant to vote for those they've only heard about but haven't seen. And with the Irish side there's another caveat. We barely had any success at all before 1986.
This fact, more than any other, perhaps justifies much of the weighting. Because when picking the greatest Irish player of all time, the primary consideration should be how a candidate performed in the highest level for his country. Not his club or in isolated friendlies. As such, it's understandable those that played in the Charlton era and 2002 campaign dominate. They took Ireland to new heights. Granted, they were all equally fortunate to be surrounded by such a quality squad, in the manner John Giles, Liam Brady, Carey, Kelly snr, Tommy Eglington and so many others weren't.
But then the point of these lists is to start debates, not end them. And on Soccer Republic is far from finished yet. As you can see, the list only goes to 11. Meaning the top 10 must be decided. It's now up to readers of the site to sort Ireland's elite players from those who finished highest in the primary poll.
Now is the time to decide whether Roy Keane's performances against Portugal and Holland to drag that Ireland side kicking and screaming to the 2002 World Cup are what the likes of Giles and Brady should have done a generation or two earlier. Or whether Saipan negates all that? That Keane, in more than one sense, never had the class of Giles or Brady?
Or should we look to the numbers. Like Given's supreme goals-conceded record against Packie Bonner's decent one? But then Given was never named one of the top keepers in Europe, as Bonner was after Euro '88. At the other end of the pitch, there's Robbie Keane's sensational strike record. Whatever the doubts about his leadership, no Irish player comes close to that sort of return.
Or should the individual moments that gave us such joy stand apart? Ray Houghton's goals against England and Italy. Ronnie Whelan's volley against Russia. Paul McGrath's trio of tackles on the great Roberto Baggio.
The greatest is surely someone who combined the most elements: bringing Ireland to a higher level, transferring his club form, consistent quality and stepping up to the big occasion. Now is the time for you to decide. The poll closes on the eve of St Patrick's Day.
Numbers 50-11 as selected by the users of Soccer Republic is as follows:
50 Joe Haverty (1955-66) 49 John Joe Flood (1926-31) 48 Kevin Doyle (2006-) 47 Jimmy O'Neill (1952-59) 46 Shay Brennan (1965-69) 45 Jim McDonagh (1981-85) 44 Alan Kelly Snr (1956-73) 43 Alan Kelly Jnr (1993-2002) 42 Dave Langan (1978-87) 41 Jim Beglin (1984-87) 40 Chris Hughton (1979-91) 39 Jason McAteer (1994-2004) 38 Kevin Sheedy (1984-93) 37 Steve Finnan (2000-) 36 John O'Shea (2001-) 35 Tony Cascarino (1985-99) 34 Paddy Mulligan (1965-79) 33 Con Martin (1946-56) 32 Andy Townsend (1989-97) 31 Paddy Coad (1946-52) 30 Tony Dunne (1962-69) 29 Billy Whelan (1956-57) 28 Tommy Eglington (1946-55) 27 Mick McCarthy (1984-92) 26 Gary Kelly (1994-2003) 25 Don Givens (1969-81) 24 Noel Cantwell (1953-67) 23 John Aldridge (1986-96) 22 Steve Heighway (1971-82) 21 Kevin Kilbane (1997-) 20 David O'Leary (1976-93) 19 Kevin Moran (1980-94) 18 Steve Staunton (1988-2002) 17 Charlie Hurley (1957-69) 16 Niall Quinn (1986-2002) 15 Johnny Carey (1937-52) 14 Frank Stapleton (1976-90) 13 Mark Lawrenson (1977-87) 12 Damien Duff (1998-) 11 Richard Dunne (2000-)
The top 10 in alphabetical order is: (a) Liam Brady (b) Packie Bonner (c) Johnny Giles (d) Shay Given (e) Ray Houghton (f) Denis Irwin (g) Robbie Keane (h) Roy Keane (i) Paul McGrath (j) Ronnie Whelan Jnr
Vote at http://soccerrepublic. eircom.net
Poll closes midnight on Tuesday