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Palace's Top 10 Irish Players

17 March 2016

The 17th of March is a day many current and former Eagles players will be acknowledging as our past and present Irish stars celebrate St Patrick's Day. 

A large number of representatives from the Emerald Isle have featured for the club since Frank Ransom was the first in 1906, and here are 10 of the best to pull on the red and blue stripes:

10. Iain Dowie – 1995, 25 appearances, 10 goals
Despite only arriving for short stint in 1995, the Hatford-born striker won 59 caps for Northern Ireland throughout his playing career. Signed from Southampton, Dowie linked up with Chris Armstrong to help fire the Eagles to the FA Cup semi-final where they were edged out by Manchester United at Villa Park, but couldn't quite keep the Eagles in the top flight at the end of the 1994/95 campaign before switching to West Ham United. 

Dowie returned to the club as manager in 2003 and achieved promotion back to the Premier League at the end of his first season in charge before leaving in 2006.

9. Paddy Mulligan – 1972-75, 64 appearances, 2 goals
Despite his relatively short time at Selhurst, the right-back is best remembered for the only two goals of his Eagles career which both came in the 5-0 drubbing of Manchester United in 1972. Having made his name in England with Chelsea where he won the UEFA Cup-Winners Cup, his time at Palace coincided with the club's slide down the divisions. Having started in the First Division, by the time he left for West Bromwich Albion the Eagles were languishing in Third Division.

His international career was far more successful though, winning a half-century of caps for the Republic of Ireland and captained them for 10 of those games during a decade of service from 1969 to 1979.

8. Ray Houghton – 1994-97, 86 appearances, 8 goals
Another player who represented his country through his family roots, Houghton soon followed Dowie through the Selhurst Park doors on transfer deadline day in March 1995. He made his debut in a 2-1 win over Manchester City later that month, but after relegation stayed with the club for  another two years until moving to Reading. 

He won 73 caps for the Republic of Ireland and represented them at their first international tournament at Euro 88, scoring the only goal of the game against England in the group stage. His success in a green jersey continued as he also scored the winning penalty in a second round shoot-out against Romania at the 1990 World Cup, and famously scored the winner against Italy four years later in the United States.

7. Robert McCracken – 1920-26, 190 appearances, 2 goals
The right-back was signed from Belfast Distillery in the summer before the Eagles won their first championship in 1920/21, and was first choice until suffering a broken leg that December. However he returned for the start of the Eagles' first Second Division campaign and went on to play more games for the club in that tier than anyone else until their demotion in 1925.

He won four international caps for Northern Ireland, the first of which came against England at Roker Park a few months after joining the Eagles, becoming the first player from England's third tier to play for the the province. 

6. Paddy McCarthy – 2008-present, 151 appearances, 6 goals
Palace's current longest-serving Irish player, the Dubliner arrived at Palace in 2008 from local rivals Charlton Athletic in a swap deal with Mark Hudson, having progressed through Manchester City's academy and impressing at Leicester City. His no-nonsense style lead him to become captain during the 2010/11 season, but injuries saw him miss the entire promotion campaign.

Having battled back from that nightmare season, McCarthy returned to first-team action to make his Premier League bow in the home victory against Hull City in January 2014. Despite not winning a senior cap for the Republic, he has represented them at under-17, under-19 and B level.

5. Michael Hughes – 2003-07, 141 appearances, 10 goals
Signed on a free transfer after his release from Birmingham City in 2003, Hughes was snapped up by Steve Kember. The midfielder's all-action displays in the middle of the park quickly won over the Selhurst faithful and he was named captain a year later by former international team-mate Dowie ahead of Palace's return to the top-flight, after Hughes had helped the Eagles win the play-off final against former club West Ham United.

His international career began in 1991 after swapping Carrick Rangers for Manchester City and he went on to win 71 caps, scoring five times. He currently part-owns the club where he started his career and has also been their manager.

4. Jerry Murphy – 1976-85, 269 appearances, 25 goals
Born in Stepney, Murphy was a product of the Eagles academy and helped the club win the FA Youth Cup twice in 1978 and 1979 before establishing himself in the “Team of the Eighties” under the management of Terry Venables. In his first full season plying his trade on the wing, Murphy helped the Eagles win promotion to the top-flight and won the club's Player of the Year award in 1983, one of only two Irishmen to win the award.

Qualifying to play for Eire through his father's nationality, his formative years yielded three caps, and after nine years at the club he moved on to Chelsea before injuries limited his career.

3. Damien Delaney – 2012-present, 145 appearances, 6 goals
Brought to south London by Dougie Freedman on transfer deadline day in August 2012 from Ipswich Town, the commanding centre-back made an instant impression as Palace immediately embarked on a 14 game unbeaten run and Delaney ultimately helped the Eagles reach the Premier League after beating Watford in the play-off final. He has since go on to form a strong centre-back partnership with Scott Dann in the heart of the Palace defence, and is nearly 150 games for the Eagles.

The Cork native has won nine caps for the Republic of Ireland since making his debut against Northern Ireland in 2011, the last of which came against Turkey in May 2014.

2. Eddie McGoldrick – 1988-93, 189 appearances 16 goals
The other Irish recipient of the Player of the Year, McGoldrick was plucked from third-tier obscurity by Palace when he signed from Northampton Town in 1988 and helped the club embark on its golden period, winning promotion from the Second Division in 1989, reaching the FA Cup final in 1990 (although he missed the final through injury) and lifting the Zenith Data Systems Cup in 1991.

He went on to taste European glory with Arsenal when they won the UEFA Cup-Winners Cup in 1994, and also won 15 caps for the land of his father during a three year period between 1993 and 1995 which saw Jack Charlton's side qualify for the World Cup but despite being in the squad, McGoldrick didn't see any playing time. 

1. Clinton Morrison – 1997-2002, 2005-08, 316 appearances, 113 goals
Sitting in equal-fourth position in Palace's all-time top goalscorers list alongside Mark Bright, Morrison was another product of the Eagles academy who went on to represent the Republic despite being born in Tooting. He made a goalscoring debut against Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the 1997/98 Premier League season, and won his first cap against Croatia in 2001.

He was called up to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea but didn't feature, and then followed Steve Bruce to Birmingham City before returning to SE25 in 2005. He won the last of his 36 caps in 2006, having scored nine goals for his country, and currently plays for Exeter City in League Two.

Agree with our selections? Let us know what you think on Twitter – message @CPFC using #IrishEagles.

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