I never gave much notice to the Beast from the East yesterday. Driving home from work, I even made the incredibly funny joke that the only Beast from the East I knew, was my old mate Chris McCann, who happened to move to East Belfast last year. Yeah, none of the boys laughed either.
But after pawing at the 7 a.m. alarm, clambering out of bed, and pissing all over the toilet seat in what has become a morning ritual over the past few days, I rubbed my eyes (hands freshly washed of course), looked out the window and saw it…
I dabbled in work around lunchtime, but found a tasty wee article on the Guardian Sports Page about former Spurs trainee Stuart McManus, who forged a career in Sweden after a decidedly average career in the U.K. The footballing equivalent to Ulrika Jonsson clearly.
That’s not important – what’s important is he got me thinking of what Irish players there might be out there, stranded in foreign lands, being held against their will, being made to perform like circus monkeys come 3 p.m. on a Saturday.
And like any self-respecting 29 year old male, I set about making an eleven from these wretched, lost souls in a team I’m calling the “Ronnie O’Brien Bray Del Piero Rovers”.
Goalkeeper – Sean McDermott – Kristiansund (Norway)
Brought up in Norway, by a Norwegian mother and a father from Donegal (raw as f**k then), Sean now plays for his home town club in Norway’s top division having spent his formative years at Arsenal. Earned himself six caps for the U21’s in the process. Good man Sean.
Centre Half – Patrick Kohlmann – Holstein Kiel (Germany)
This man should have been courted with St Brigid’s crosses at frequent intervals. Born in Dortmund, he spent 12 years at the German giants at the heart of defence. For the B’s. Managed five caps for the U21s in his time and, having hung up the boots at the end of last season, he’s taken a role as assistant manager at 2. Bundesliga outfit Holstein Kiel.
Centre Half – Colin Falvey – Ottawa Fury (Canada)
Cork man who has played football on four different continents and, according to some reports, the moon. Left Kilkenny City in 2008, voyaging to New Zealand and India along the way. Back for a second spell at Ottawa Fury in Canada, having dabbled in some non-MLS American backwaters.
Centre Half – Jason Gavin – Stirling Lions (Australia)
Aww yes! What a head this man has. Reminds me of Eastenders toe rag Nick Cotton. Big things were expected of the young Middlesbrough player at the turn of the millennium. But having made one Irish squad under McCarthy his career petered out a bit, bar what must have been a career high winning the league with The Drogs in 2007. No one actually knows if he’s still playing or not out in Australia, so if anyone has seen him, let us know he’s still alive and well.
Inside Right – Conor Henderson – Pirin Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria)
Another Arsenal product, he starred in their successful FA Youth Cup winning side of 2008-09. However injuries were to hamper his progress. Got a final shot of redemption in 2013 when Brucey rolled the dice on him at Hull City. But Conor never made the grade. Evidently, he’s the player I’m most worried about. If you see this Conor, please call.
Centre Mid – Andy Mulligan – Southern United (New Zealand)
One of a rake of Wexford Youth players to up and leave for New Zealand in wake of their relegation in 2016, Carlow man Mulligan makes the Rovers side purely on the basis that I needed another midfielder. Those lads must have had some craic though.
Inside Left – Richie Ryan – FC Cincinatti (USA)
Tipp man Richie Ryan must have thought big things lay ahead after making his professional bow in the Tyne-Wear derby in 2003. Picked up silverware at Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers before anchoring himself in Ronnie’s Rovers. But get this – crossed the pond and amongst others, worked with Maldini and Nesta at Miami FC. They even spent $750,000 on him. Still on his J1 Visa.
Wide Right – Vinny Faherty – PAEEK (Cyprus)
A prolific goalscorer in his youth, the Galway man turned down Ipswich and Coventry back in ’07, opting to play for his hometown club. Became a bit of a League of Ireland journeyman, but once scored fourteen goals in a twenty game sabbatical for some dog shite team in Melbourne, in a state of what I can only imagine to be unadulterated intoxication. Currently playing second division football in Cyprus. Vinny can sure do it!
Wide Left – Ciarán Kilduff – Jacksonville Armada (USA)
Pottered around League of Ireland before really bursting on to the scene during Dundalk’s fairtytale Europa League run in 2016-17. Scored a late goal in Alkmaar to earn an away draw, before going one better and bagging the winner against Maccabi Tel Aviv. He even made the Europa League Team of the Week for Christ’s Sake. Where is he now, you cry? Barca? Madrid? Paris? No. In the US, not even playing in the big leagues. Limp.
In the Hole – Cillian Sheridan – Jagiellonia Bialystok (Poland)
Forever remembered for the Old Trafford stadium announcer ushering him on to the field in a Champions League tie as Sill-Eye-Ann, the Cavan man turned his back on potentially scintillating careers in both GAA and Aussie Rules to join Celtic. Never quite made the grade at Parkhead and having skirted around Scotland, embarked on a Euro Trip in 2010 that has seen him in Sofia, Nicosia and now Poland. Three international caps.
Number 9 – Roy O’Donovan – Newcastle Jets (Australia)
A great langer and Cork City legend. Scored a rake of goals at Turners Cross before getting his big move to Sunderland under Keane. Never worked out for either of the Roys really and despite a spark of success in the English lower leagues, he now finds himself in Australia, via Singapore and Indonesia. Granted he’s spent more time in the Far East than his namesake Keane ever managed. Currently injured after having a promising start to the season with Newcastle Jets.
Honourable mentions to Andy Keogh, Ooh Aah Tony Stokes and of course Robbie.
You can’t say you aren’t informed.