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Wanderin’ around the world: Republic of Ireland

With Daryl Horgan receiving another call-up for international duty, we shine the spotlight on other Chairboys stars from the Emerald Isle.

22 March 2021

In the first of a series highlighting the club's Worldwide Wanderers from years gone by - penned by Steve Wilson for the matchday programme a decade ago - we look at Chairboys from the Republic of Ireland.

Cork-born defender Alan Bennett earned two caps for the Irish national team. Back in May 2007 he was included in the squad for a summer trip to North America, playing in 1-1 draws against both Ecuador and Bolivia. Dating back to 2001 he had been involved in the youth set-up, advancing from the U21 team to the B team and finally receiving the call to the seniors from Steve Staunton.

Scott Davies, born in Aylesbury, qualified for Ireland through family roots and has been capped at U19 level. Back in 2009 he made his debut for the U21 squad for a draw with Estonia, whilst on the books of Aldershot Town.

While at Aldershot his manager was Gary Waddock, boss at Adams Park from 2009-12. Although born in London, Waddock also represented the RoI. Having won an U21 cap in 1979 he was granted his full debut in 1980 and over the following decade made a total of 21 appearances – although he was unfortunately not selected for either of the two major competitions that Ireland qualified for during that period, Euro ’88 and the 1990 World Cup. The majority of his caps had come in the early 1980s but he featured in two friendlies – against Turkey and the USSR – just prior to the 1990 tournament.

Dublin-born goalkeeper Wayne Henderson made three appearances for Wycombe back in the late end of the 2003-04 season. Arriving on loan from Aston Villa, he eventually moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion and then Preston North End. He has been an ever-present through Ireland’s ranks, even appearing in the U20 team at the World Youth Cup in 2003 alongside such future stars as Andres Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves. He won six full international caps.

Wayne's nephew Stephen Henderson(pictured) played three time for the Chairboys in an emergency loan spell in December 2018, and represented Eire at various youth levels.

Another loanee from Villa also went on to earn full caps. Stephen O’Halloran made his professional debut for Wycombe during the 2006-07 campaign, helping the club on their run to the League Cup semi-final. In total the Cobh-born left-back made 11 appearances in the light and dark blue quarters before going on to have temporary spells with Southampton, Leeds United and Swansea City. He made two senior international appearances for Ireland and 13 for the U21 side. His two outings were the same two in which Bennett appeared in back in 2007.

Several other players have earned recognition for Ireland at various levels. Sean Devine arrived at Wycombe in 1999 having already won eight caps for the Irish B team – where his teammates included Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. The club’s record signing – £200,000 – initially came to Adams Park on loan but his prolific scoring made his purchase essential. Over four years with the club he became the club’s record League scorer, a title held until broken by Nathan Tyson in 2004, and then by Adebayo Akinfenwa in 2020.

Defender Paul McCarthy had also already added international appearances to his CV when he joined the club from Brighton & Hove Albion in 1996. The Cork native was capped ten times at U21 level while with Brighton. In over 250 games with Wycombe his most memorable accomplishments came in the FA Cup run of 2000-01, in which he notched up an impressive four goals – not bad for a defender.

Dublin’s Ian Simpemba was a regular in the youth and reserve squad for several seasons before finally being given his debut against Colchester United by Tony Adams in the 2002-03 campaign. The following year was his stand-out season with the Blues. Making 19 appearances in the league, his recognition by Ireland seemed to be the spur for him to be given a shot at Adams Park. Having represented them at U17 and U18 level he had been drafted into their U19 squad ahead of the European U19 Championship in 2002 – scoring on his debut against Portugal.

Richard Keogh came on loan from Bristol City during the 2005-06 season, making just three appearances. He won a total of 11 Irish U21 caps, and 26 for the full squad.

Michael Harriman - a Chairboys loanee in 2013, and permanent squad member from 2015-19 - won four Under-21 caps for the boys in green, having also represented his country ay under-18 and under-19 levels.

During the tenure of Lawrie Sanchez the Blues also played a couple of matches against Irish opposition. In the summer of 2000 a hardy band of Wanderers fans made the trip to Dublin to watch the club face off against Bohemian. The encounter at Dalymount Park ended in a 3-1 win for the Pride of Bucks, but Bohs, who would go on to win the League of Ireland title the next term, gave a good account.

Such was the success of the trip the club went back to Dublin the following year, adding an encounter with Shelbourne to the agenda. The Tolka Park club ran out 2-0 winners and two days later Bohemian earned some revenge by running out 2-1 winners.

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