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Eight of the best Irish Canaries to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 🍀

17 March 2020

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve selected eight Norwich City players from Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland to have represented the Canaries more than 100 times.

In no particular order, here are some of our favourite Irishmen to wear the yellow and green shirt down the years.

Mike Milligan

Mike Milligan is fondly remembered by Oldham Athletic fans for his two separate stays at their club, but 142 appearances across six years for Norwich City is a record that shouldn’t be snuffed at either.

Expectations were high when Milligan joined a Norwich side just outside the UEFA Cup qualifying places, but the 1994-95 season ended with City relegated from the Premier League.

Nevertheless, Milligan became a mainstay in Mike Walker’s midfield before falling out of favour with Bruce Rioch. Either way, Milligan’s career was one of loyalty to the few clubs for whom he played.

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Jimmy Hill

Hill’s stay at Norwich City was brief but successful, his four years encompassing 195 appearances and 55 goals.

Those figures contributed to winning promotion from the Third Division in 1959-60 (scoring 16 goals in the process) and lifting the League Cup in 1962, after Hill had scored in the final’s second leg at Carrow Road.

He later went on to represent Everton and Port Vale, but his time at Norwich remains the most successful period of his career.

Speaking at a 1959 reunion in 2017, Hill said: "I have always been a Norwich fan since the day I left and it's nice to go back again, especially to meet the 59ers."

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Phil Mulryne

There probably aren’t many priests with football league titles to their name, but Phil Mulryne is one of them.

The central midfielder began his career at Manchester United, but left in the search for more first-team football. Norwich City became his port of call from 1999 to 2005, as he made 178 appearances and scored 20 goals in six years.

Promotion to the Premier League beckoned for Mulryne and co ahead of the 2004-05 season.

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Gary Doherty

After signing for City in 2004, ‘the ginger Pele’, as he was known to some, Doherty went on to make 227 appearances for the club in six years, scoring 14 goals and winning one Player of the Season award in the process.

The defender looked as though he had perhaps fallen out of favour with Paul Lambert, who dropped him from the captaincy that had been awarded to him by Bryan Gunn, but the former was forced to recall Doherty to his starting lineup and reaped the rewards.

Doherty kept his place in the side for the rest of the season, scoring seven goals as City won the League One title in 2010.

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Paul McVeigh

McVeigh moved to Norwich City shortly after the turn of the century on a free transfer – a piece of business that would prove to be incredibly astute over the next seven years.

Minutes were somewhat hard to come by in his first season at the club, but once McVeigh had settled into Norfolk life there was little stopping him. Ten goals in the 2001-02 campaign helped City reach the final of the Division One play-offs. The season after that, he was the top scorer with 15.

Alongside Iwan Roberts, McVeigh contributed to the goalscoring exploits that took City to the Premier League for the 2004-05 season, and was involved in another title win under Paul Lambert in 2010.

Bobby Brennan

Brennan first played for Norwich from 1953 to 1956, before coming back to the club in 1956 after a brief spell at Yarmouth Town. In 1958-59, it was a great time to be playing on the wing for City, as Brennan was involved in our great FA Cup run.

The Canaries reached the semi-finals of the tournament, despite at the time being a third division side, by beating Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the earlier rounds. He even scored in the semi-final against Luton Town at White Hart Lane, but the Canaries lost the replay.

In 2002, Brennan rightly took his place in the club’s Hall of Fame after 52 goals in 250 games.

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Wes Hoolahan

The only Irishman to play a full decade at Carrow Road, Wes Hoolahan became a fan favourite shortly after his arrival in 2008. Hoolahan led the club out as captain for the first time in 2011 when Grant Holt and Russell Martin weren’t playing.

He was then justifiably inducted into the Norwich City Hall of Fame during the 2011-12 season for his services to the club. Another huge personal achievement was his inclusion in Football Manager’s Team of the Decade in 2015.

Hoolahan wasn’t about to stop there though, continuing to deliver a string of impressive performances to earn the club’s Player of the Season award for 2016-17. Promoted with City once from League One and twice from the Championship, 324 appearances and 53 goals later, Wes remains a true great. A penalty against Ipswich couldn’t go amiss, either.

Johnny Gavin

None other than Norwich City’s all-time leading goalscorer, Johnny Gavin will forever remain a club legend at NR1. Described to the Eastern Daily Press by former teammate Ken Nethercott as an “excellent header of the ball [who] had a few broken noses,” Gavin moved to Norwich from Ireland after working as a painter on the Irish railways.

A short spell at Tottenham Hotspur was sandwiched between stays in Norfolk during 1948-54 and 1955-58, amassing a total of nine years with the Canaries, 338 appearances, and 132 goals. Some have come close to overtaking that tally since then, but Gavin’s record still stands strong.

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