herald

Monday 22 May 2017

O'Shea's time with Premier League elite is almost done

John O'Shea. PIc: PA
John O'Shea. PIc: PA

They say that great careers always end in failure in football and few have matched John O'Shea's remarkable span in the Premier League.

No fewer than five Premier League titles between 2002 and 2011 at Old Trafford, one FA Cup, three League Cups and a Champions League winners medal make him one of the most decorated Irish footballers of all time

But today could mark the end of a 15 year Premier League run.

Now 12 points from safety with just 15 to play for, O'Shea will suffer his first relegation if David Meyler's Hull can find a better result against Southampton than Sunderland manage against Bournemouth at the Stadium of Light.

In fact, relegation jitters will be hard to avoid for a major chunk of Martin O'Neill's top talent on a big day for the bottom of the Premier League.

Key men Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Ward and O'Shea are in the mix and while O'Neill can take some consolation from Daryl Murphy and Rob Elliott's promotion with Newcastle, a late collapse by Burnley would be damaging.

Defeats by Everton and Manchester United have sucked Burnley back into the mire and they badly need at least a point away to Crystal Palace or jitters will edge towards panic.

Things look rosier for O'Neill in the Championship and he has to be pleased with Brighton's promotion under Chris Hughton, offering Shane Duffy and Richie Towell a chance to stretch themselves in the top division next season.

There is a slew of O'Neill's fringe men battling towards the promotion play-offs, including Sean Scannell at Huddersfield, guaranteed a place in the draw while Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn could be fit to help Liam Kelly nail down Reading's play-off status.

Keiren Westwood and Sheffield Wednesday are a win away while Eunan O'Kane's Leeds will fall just short if Fulham beat Brentford today..

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