Friday 24 January 2020

No rush to pick up Irish this January

It looks like being a bleak window as Boys in Green left struggling

Darron Gibson left Wigan last May and has been without a club since
Darron Gibson left Wigan last May and has been without a club since

The January transfer window. It's been good to a batch of Irish footballers down the years, even better for their agents who managed to begin the calendar year with the kind of tasty commissions which can pay the bills until things hot up again in the summer.

Robbie Brady has made two January moves (2013, 2017), Shane Long had one (2014) as did Aiden McGeady (2014), those four deals worth over £30million.

January 2020 won't be as busy for Irish exports.

From Mick McCarthy's current panel, only Glenn Whelan is really likely to move this month, the veteran unwanted at Hearts by new manager Daniel Stendel made it clear that Dubliner Whelan was not what he wanted.

Bohemians, due to 10% slice of a fee if Matt Doherty leaves Wolves, will hope that transfer rumours are more than that but while Doherty and John Egan (Sheffield United) have both been linked with moves, they are likely to stay where they are.

Darren Randolph has been linked with a move away from Middlesbrough but the club, enjoying a revival over the festive period, are not desperate to sell and he's in no rush to move.

Robbie Brady, James McCarthy and Kevin Long need more game time than they are currently getting at their clubs but they are at Premier League teams, on lucrative contracts, and moving out on loan is easier said than done.

In terms of a big purchase, it's a long time since a player from the Republic of Ireland was the subject of a real mid-season transfer tussle.

So sadly, the only high-profile (ish) players from the Republic likely to sign for a club in the coming window is one of the veterans currently clubless.

The likes of Darron Gibson (left Wigan in May and has not had a club since), Anthony Stokes (exited his Turkish club in November) and Marc Wilson (was linked with a summer move to the USA but remains unemployed) are the most likely ones to move, their moves unlikely to trouble the Sky Sports transfer ticker too much.

The Irish player with a high profile most likely to move is Caoimhín Kelleher, if Liverpool decide to allow him go on loan, and a spell in a lower league, playing every week, would benefit the Cork-born keeper.

His Ireland U21 team-mate Conor Masterson really does need to go on loan, the ex-Lucan United player completely out of the picture since his summer move to QPR, though a recent league debut for his U21 central defensive partner Dara O'Shea was a bonus and a sign that he could play a role.

McGeady will definitely be on the move in the weeks ahead. With six months left on his contract at Sunderland, his time there is up, manager Phil Parkinson telling the veteran last month that he was free to leave after a falling-out.

A lot of anger locally was directed at McGeady after he and a team-mate were photographed eating a McDonalds after a game, while still in their club tracksuits.


Given the really serious issues in the game across the UK and Europe, like racist abuse from supporters, violence and match-fixing, a player having a Big Mac and a milkshake is hardly the biggest crime an athlete can commit, and players like Chris Sutton have come out to defend McGeady on that issue. But to no avail.

Former Cork City man Kevin O'Connor is one player due to move shortly.

He still has six months left on his contract at Preston but the Wexford native has not settled at Deepdale since his move from Cork and he spent part of last season on loan to the Turner's Cross club.

O'Connor will not play for Preston again and it would suit him to cut his ties as soon as possible and move on, to try and kickstart a career which has worryingly flagged from the time where O'Connor was seen as the best left back in Ireland but lacked the necessary impact cross-channel.

Another Irishman on the move is international Stephen Gleeson, out of favour and out the door at Aberdeen.

Scotland could see a few other Irish moves, albeit on loan. Celtic have three very impressive Irish talents at their disposal but have yet to use them. The trio of Lee O'Connor, Jonathan Afolabi and Luca Connell have yet to play for the first team, despite moving to Parkhead when lured there from other clubs.

Celtic currently have players out on loan to clubs like Morton, Ayr and East Fife, and the likes of O'Connor (now a senior international) would only stagnate if playing reserve team football for the rest of the season and that revived challenge from Rangers to Celtic for the title narrows Neil Lennon's options in terms of trying out youngsters.

Exports from the League of Ireland tend to go through at this time of the year, with UK clubs keen to snap up players now to give them time to bed in for the start of next season, but none have bitten just yet, with Dylan McGlade moving back to Ireland (Cork City) after a short stint with Blyth Spartans.

Some English clubs may throw their eyes towards Jack Byrne, but the midfielder is settled at Shamrock Rovers and neither club nor player are desperate to move.

Bohemians are relieved to have tied up stars like Danny Mandroiu and Andy Lyons on extended contracts, stalling an inevitable UK move for the time being.

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