Before Liam Scales: how 5 Republic of Ireland internationals fared at Celtic

By Euan Davidson

September 4, 2021

If you wanted to go all the way back decades, Celtic have had so many Ireland internationals through their history that we could write volumes.

From the likes of Packie Bonner to Sean Fallon to Tony Cascarino and Roy Keane, so many have pulled on the green of Ireland and the Hoops. In recent years, however, we’ve seen that tradition vanish a little, with fewer players from the Emerald Isle starring for Celtic.

However, that trend’s been reversed by a player who hasn’t even worn the Hoops yet. Well, not the Hoops of Celtic, anyway. Former Shamrock Rovers man Liam Scales was called up by Stephen Kenny yesterday, as a late injury replacement.

So, let’s delve back a little further; who were the last five Ireland internationals at Celtic, what became of them, and how’d they get on in Paradise?

Lee O’Connor; an Ireland international yet still a work in progress for Celtic

Ireland have been known to take chances on young players in the past. That was very much the case when Lee O’Connor debuted for his country in 2019.

The Summer 2019 deadline day signing from Manchester United inspired Mick McCarthy to pick him for the senior team [Daily Record]. In his one cap, against New Zealand, O’Connor set up a goal in a 3-1 win.

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However, since moving to Glasgow, the call-ups have been missing. O’Connor is now in his second loan spell at Trenmere Rovers, under former Dundee United boss Micky Mellon.

What the future holds for O’Connor at Celtic is unclear. But another good season of progress in Birkenhead can’t do his chances any harm, despite the arrival of Josip Juranovic.

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Anthony Stokes: occasionally frustrating, occasionally sublime

Former Bhoys foward Anthony Stokes has had quite the journey since he was playing for Celtic. Signed from Hibernian in 2010, the Irish forward didn’t stick around for the Rodgers Revolution, leaving to join Blackburn Rovers.

Since then, his career has been nomadic, to put it lightly. Despite scoring 74 goals and setting up 64 more for Celtic [Transfermarkt], he’s had more clubs than Colin Montgomerie since then.

The list includes: Hibs, Apollon Smyrnis, Tractor Sazi, Adana Demirspor, Persepolis and Livingston.

It’s been a weird time, then. Now 33, the Dublin-born attacker is still without a club. A very streaky player, who could frustrate and delight supporters in equal measure, Stokes’ post-Celtic career has been a surprising journey.

Shane Duffy: now thriving away from Celtic

Just tonight, Shane Duffy spared Ireland’s blushes in a draw with Azerbaijan [Guardian]. A late goal has actually been part of a relatively rich vein of scoring form for the Brighton man, who’s got a goal in the Premier League already this season.

Clearly regaining his confidence, Duffy was meant to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Celtic. On loan from Brighton last season, the combative defender was supposed to compliment Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien in a 3-man defence.

That didn’t quite work out. Now, the former Everton and Blackburn Rovers man is back on the south coast, featuring in a very decent side who look good value to stay up again this season.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Robbie Keane: an Ireland icon, and Celtic favourite

Oh, Robbie Keane.

It was only a loan, but what a time it was. Joining just too late to repair the 09-10 season, Keane turned a difficult spell in England into a prolific one with Celtic. His goal stats are still ridiculous.

In 16 league games, he scored 12, and set up 2. In the Scottish Cup, he scored 4 in 3 [Transfermarkt]. Can you imagine we held onto him? Alas, we just couldn’t.

A return to England followed, with spells at West Ham and Aston Villa, but Keane enjoyed a late-career renaissance stateside, scoring an obscene 105 goals in 170 games for LA Galaxy.

He ended his career with 146 caps, and left Celtic fans wondering: what if we got an extra season out of Robbie Keane?

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Aiden McGeady: the controversial Celtic and Ireland star

If you could describe Aiden McGeady’s early career, the words “action packed” would surely come to mind.

Causing unwarranted controversy by choosing to play for Ireland, McGeady could still do a job for his national team. After breaking through under Martin O’Neill, McGeady’s relationship with Gordon Strachan was fractured, then reached an untenable point. He was sold to Spartak Moscow in 2010, for a very decent £9.5m [Daily Record].

From then, McGeady made England his home. He’s enjoyed spells with Everton, Preston, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton and now Sunderland, where he’s a big hit with fans.

Despite being frozen out for much of last season, McGeady re-emerged as a creative force, linking well with rumoured Celtic target Charlie Wyke.

He’s still with Sunderland, where he’s made 5 league appearances thus far this season.

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