The Republic of Ireland have been blessed with some terrific footballers over the decades, many of whom have earned iconic status with their heroics at World Cups and European Championships.

But what of the talented players who never got the chance to grace a major finals, through ill luck, injury, or unfortunate timing?

We're asking you to help us choose a Republic of Ireland XI made up of the best players we've had who never played at a major international tournament. 

Today, we start with the men between the posts. If you think we have omitted anyone, please contact us at


Alan Kelly Senior had an international career that spanned 17 years, from 1956 to 1973. He  won 47 caps despite being exiled for five years after conceding five goals in a chastening 1958 World Cup qualifier defeat to England at Wembley. 

He returned in 1963 but was overlooked again for the 1966 World Cup play-off defeat to Spain, which was controversially played in Paris. It was reported at the time Ireland had agreed to play the game in France in exchange for Spain's share of the gate receipts.

Kelly Senior captained his country in a 1972 World Cup qualifier loss to the Soviet Union and later managed Ireland in a caretaker capacity for one match in 1980 - a 2-0 win against Switzerland at Lansdowne Road.

Kelly began his career at Bray Wanderers before moving to Drumcondra, where he won an FAI Cup in 1957 and a league title in 1958. He moved to Preston North End in 1960 and went on to make a club record 513 appearances in 14 years. 

His son Alan Junior maintained the family tradition. He won 34 caps for Ireland and went to two World Cups.

Kelly remained on the bench in the USA and South Korea & Japan, deputising for Packie Bonner and Shay Given respectively.

He was unlucky. Having performed well in the pre-USA 94 friendly against Germany, which Ireland won 2-0, Kelly never got his chance in the States, though he was destined to take over from the soon-to-retire Bonner.

Kelly played in all bar one of the Euro 96 qualifiers (Bonner's final game in an Ireland shirt came in the 4-0 home defeat of Liechtenstein).

He was in goal for the play-off loss to the Netherlands at Anfield and would almost certainly have been first choice had Jack Charlton's men made it to the finals in England.

Coming up the rails though was a young Shay Given, the Donegal man emerging during the France 98 campaign and making the position his for the next 14 years.

Dean Kiely was another stopper in that era who had limited opportunities despite playing in the Premier League for most of a topsy-turvey international career.

Kiely played 11 times for the Boys in Green but could, maybe should, have won a lot more caps than that. He made his debut as a replacement for the injured Kelly in the first leg of the Euro 2000 play-off against Turkey, which Ireland lost on away goals.

Having also gone to the 2002 World Cup as a back-up option, he retired from international football in the spring of 2003.

In 2008 Kiely was coaxed back into the fold by Giovanni Trapattoni. Then 37, the Salford-born player filled in for the injured Given in a 1-1 draw with Serbia at Croke Park before producing an excellent display in a 1-0 win against Colombia at Craven Cottage.

He vowed to fight Given for the No 1 jersey but it ended on a sour note a year later when Kiely was told by Trap that Keiren Westwood would be replacing Given at half-time in a friendly against Nigeria. Kiely walked out and never returned.

Seamus McDonagh - Ireland's goalkeeping coach under Martin O'Neill - collected 25 caps for his country. He was in nets for the famous 3-2 victory over France at a heaving Lansdowne Road in 1981.

He was out of the picture by the time the Charlton era kicked off - McDonagh was player-manager at Galway United in 1990 - but he was Eoin Hand's man for the first half of the 80s. However just before Charlton took the reins Bonner was beginning to assert himself.

The Donegal man earned his place and never looked back. 

Gerry Peyton would be the man pushing Bonner closest when they travelled to Euro 88 and Italia 90.

Peyton (above, left) amassed 33 caps between 1977 and 1992 under four different bosses, making his debut in a friendly loss to Spain.

A dependable servant for his country while missing out on the greatest days of that era, Peyton went on to have a long and distinguished coaching career at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.


Selection: Alan Kelly Jr