An All-Ireland XI

As it is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d get into the spirit of things with an All-Ireland Celtic XI from my lifetime following Celtic.  That means no place for the likes of Charlie or Patsy Gallacher, Sean Fallon, Charles Patrick Tully, or Bertie Peacock as I’m too young to have witnessed these legends of the club in action.

Instead, my talent pool includes the likes of Paul ByrnePierce O’Leary, and Tony Cascarino, hardly stellar names in the annals of Celtic history.  Thankfully, Celtic has also enjoyed its fair share of higher quality Irish talents over the past three-and-a-bit decades (almost giving my age away there), some for longer than others, and possibly some more deserving of a place in my All-Ireland Celtic XI.

I’ll let you be the judge of that


Packie Bonner    (1978 – 1997)

There wasn’t much competition to deny the big man from Donegal the number 1 jersey in the team as neither Allen McKnight nor Connor Hazard comes anywhere near Packie Bonner.

Big Packie, a one-club man, made over 600 appearances in his Celtic career winning 12 major domestic honours and, incredibly, was voted 19th in the 1989 Ballon d’Or ahead of Ronald Koeman, Gary Lineker, and fellow Scotland based keeper Theo Snelders of Aberdeen.

Bonner was a commanding keeper in his day and a strong shot-stopper who, despite being prone to the odd error or two, will go down as one of the best goalies of his generation.


Chris Morris        (1987 – 1992)

Morris was brought to Celtic by Billy McNeill in 1987 and played every game during his double-winning debut season and was also in the Scottish Cup-winning side of 1989.

A hard-working fullback, Morris made 160 appearances for the Hoops before leaving for Middlesbrough.  With the Republic of Ireland, Morris was a member of the Euro ’88 and Italia ’90 squads, alongside Packie Bonner.

Anton Rogan      (1986 – 1991)

An attack-minded left-back, Anton Rogan was one of those players who was definitely more than the sum of his limited parts, often bursting forward on the overlap to provide crosses for the forwards to attack.

Rogan’s breakthrough season came in the double-winning Centenary Season as he became a mainstay in Billy McNeill’s side and played a key role in the final, setting up Frank McAvennie’s equaliser in the most dramatic of Cup finals.

Rogan’s legacy at Celtic is likely best remembered for two games in particular; his stunning performance in a 3-0 win against Rangers in March 1991 where Rogan scored the opener, set up the second, and made a goal line clearance, and the 1990 Scottish Cup Final where Rogan missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out allowing Brian Irvine to claim the trophy for Aberdeen.

Mick McCarthy  (1987 – 1989)

After a ten-year playing career in England, McCarthy was brought to Celtic in the summer of ’87 by Davie Hay only for the manager to be sacked just days later and replaced by the returning Billy McNeill who had previously managed McCarthy during their time together at Manchester City.

Rugged and uncompromising, McCarthy developed a strong relationship with the youthful Derek Whyte during the successful Centenary Season.

Sadly, the 88/89 season saw Celtic and McCarthy’s form decline badly and, following a desperate 3rd place finish, McCarthy departed for Lyon in a £350,000 deal.

Darren O’Dea     (2006 – 2012)

An academy graduate, O’Dea was a throwback to the days of tall, commanding centre-backs who defended first and were not scared to dive into a challenge.

Although never a regular in the side – injuries and loan moves away from the club robbing him of a run in the side on more than one occasion – O’Dea picked up two league winners medals along with League Cup and one Scottish Cup.

He is best remembered for scoring the extra-time opener in the 2009 League Cup final win against Rangers.


Neil Lennon        (2000 – 2007)

Regardless of your thoughts on how Lennon’s managerial tenure ended, as a player, his influence on the team during the O’Neill era especially, cannot be questioned.

A true leader on the park, Lennon struck up a great midfield partnership with the likes of Paul Lambert and Stan Petrov, with his snarling attitude and simple passing ability freeing up the creators in the side to play.

Lennon won 11 major honours as a player and was also part of the side that lost the UEFA Cup Final to Porto in 2003.

Roy Keane           (2005 – 2006)

A controversial choice perhaps given that he was only at the club for 6 months and played just a handful of games.  Keane is one of the game’s great midfielders and even though his time at Celtic Park was short, his influence was massive – debut against Clyde aside.

Keane helped to guide Strachan’s Celtic to lift the 2005/06 League Cup and League title.

Undoubtedly his best performance in the Hoops was his masterclass on his Glasgow Derby debut at Ibrox.

Liam Miller          (2000 – 2004)

Miller had it all.  A good reader of the game, fine passer, and the ability to time late runs into the box to perfection; he could have been a stalwart of the Celtic midfield for years.

Instead, after his breakout season in 2003/04, which included a memorable goal against Lyon in the Champions League, Miller decided his future lay elsewhere at Manchester United.

Injuries denied Miller of the career his talents deserved.  Sadly, Miller lost his battle with cancer in February 2018 and died at the tender age of 36.


Aiden McGeady (2006 – 2010)

McGeady was a bit of a Marmite player amongst the Celtic support who always willed him to do well but were rarely satisfied that he did enough to meet his potential – a relationship that seemed to endure with manager Gordon Strachan.

Another academy graduate, McGeady was a tricky winger with the ability to create moments of magic from nothing and to frustrate the support in equal measure.

He amassed over 250 appearances for Celtic, winning 4 Leagues, 2 Scottish Cups, and 1 League Cup before leaving for Spartak Moscow.

Robbie Keane     (2010)

Like namesake Roy, Robbie Keane’s inclusion over the likes of Anthony Stokes or Tommy Coyne is potentially one for debate, mainly due to the short-term nature of his stay at the club.  Ability and goal-scoring wise, Robbie Keane was a delight to watch at Celtic.

Arriving on-loan from Tottenham at one of the lowest points in Celtic’s recent history, Keane was a rare shining light in the best forgotten 2009/10 season; his 16 goals in 19 appearances earned him the Fans Player of the Year Award.

Despite helping Keane to rediscover his hunger for the game, Celtic was unable to tempt him into a longer stay and we can only speculate on the career he could have had in the Hoops.

Paddy McCourt  (2008 – 2013)

McCourt was a mercurial talent and ultimate Cult Hero with his Indie hairstyle, rolled down socks, laconic swagger, and inability to score anything other than wonder goals.  McCourt must have one of the greatest goal showreels in football.

Despite his undoubted ability, McCourt was never able to establish himself as a first-team regular but that did not stop expectation levels from rising every time the Northern Irishman had the ball.

McCourt left Celtic for Barnsley in 2013 with 2 League, 2 Scottish Cup, and 1 League Cup winners medals in his pocket, and a place in the hearts of Celtic fans across the world.


Martin O’Neill    (2000 – 2005)

A treble winner in his first season after turning around a 21-point deficit from the previous season, Martin O’Neill is a bona fide Celtic legend.

O’Neill won 3 League Titles, 3 Scottish Cups, and 1 League Cup as well as guiding Celtic to the UEFA Cup Final in 2003; the two league titles he did not win were lost by the fine margins of 1 point and 1 goal respectively.

He won 7 Glasgow Derbies in a row, established a British record of 25 consecutive league wins, and left the club with a 75.5% win record.

O’Neill was a force of nature who turned Celtic around from the disaster of the John Barnes/Kenny Dalglish season and returned the club to higher echelons of European football.


Let me know your thoughts on this team and what your All-Ireland Celtic team would look like.



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