DEBATE: Should veteran Irish internationals be selected without game time?

Kevin, Adrian and Eoin debated the pros and cons on this morning's OTB AM

BY Stephen Long 11:30 Friday 9 February 2018, 11:30 9 Feb 2018

The final Irish team huddle before the World Cup 2nd leg playoff against Denmark ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Yesterday Wes Hoolahan became the second Irish player to announce his international retirement since our 2018 World Cup qualification hopes came crashing down.

He follows Daryl Murphy in ending his Ireland career after a similar announcement by the Waterford native last month.

Attention has now turned to the other players in the twilight of their careers, with Paul Lennon reporting in today's Irish Daily Star that John O'Shea is set to join them in international retirement.

However Lennon also says Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters are seriously considering staying on in the squad for the Nations League and Euro 2020 campaigns.

Daryl Murphy in action against Denmark, a game which proved to be his last in an Ireland shirt ©INPHO/James Crombie 

Hoolahan's announcement - and a potential future announcement from O'Shea - begun a debate on this morning's OTB AM about whether elder players should continue to be selected for international campaigns, even if they're no longer the first-team regulars they once were.

Previous examples of this include O'Shea during the 2018 World Cup campaign, with the defender by and large a peripheral figure, while Shay Given came out of retirement to be selected as a back-up goalkeeper for Euro 2016.

Eoin Sheehan argued that there is little merit in their inclusion, with their place better served by a youngster aiming to break through into the starting 11 while gaining much needed experience in the meantime. 

In response Kevin Kilbane vigorously defended their addition, citing the benefit they can have to the newer additions.

"When I first got into the squad I had Tony Cascarino, Andy Townsend and Ray Houghton alongside me. These guys were my heroes growing up and I was in awe of them, and suddenly I've got these guys around me. Roy Keane as well was only a few years older than me but he was still one of those players who I'd looked up to when I was a kid growing up."

Wes Hoolahan applauds the fans following our Euro 2016 exit to France ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

"To have these huge heroes of mine in the squad I was thinking 'god this is unbelievable'. There'll still be lads coming into this squad at around 19 or 20 who'll see John O'Shea as this iconic player that they would have loved growing up."

"You're underestimating what they're going on the training ground. How their professionalism and what they're doing is influencing the next generation. Yeah of course John O'Shea primarily wants to play games, but don't overlook that fact of what they're bringing to the next generation of international footballers."

In response to the potential retirement of O'Shea, Kilbane admitted it would be no great surprise if the Sunderland captain opted to hang up his green jersey.

"I think John O'Shea's had that question labelled on him for 4 or 5 campaigns now, and certainly looking at the age he's at and the game time he had during the last campaign it wouldn't surprise me."

"He's had an amazing international career and it's probably got to the stage where he's asking his wife, his club manager Chris Coleman and Simon Grayson before him, listen to what they'll say and maybe review that going forward."

Do you think there should be a place for older internationals in an Ireland squad, even if game time is hard to come by? Let us know on Twitter @offtheball

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