Belfast Telegraph

Could a specially assembled Irish League Christmas XI be genuine challengers for silverware?

Where do (from left) Glentoran's Navid Nasseri, Institute's Stephen Curry and Warrenpoint's Dermott McVeigh factor into our Christmas XI?
Where do (from left) Glentoran's Navid Nasseri, Institute's Stephen Curry and Warrenpoint's Dermott McVeigh factor into our Christmas XI?
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

'Tis the season to be jolly, and why not have a bit of fun leading into Christmas with some of our well-known Irish League stars' names and be a bit creative at the same time?

Nobody in the league has been spared as we assemble the best Christmassy names from the Danske Bank Premiership (with a little bit of an artistic license!) to form an all-conquering Christmas XI!

For the purposes of our team we've gone for the standard 4-4-2 formation and included one player from each team, meaning gems such as Lee Grinch (Lee Lynch, Larne) and Snow Crowe (Joe Crowe, Glentoran) don't even get a look-in sadly!

What do you think, would this be a team that could challenge for league honours? Who else could you have chosen for our squad? Let us know!

 

STARTING XI

Goalkeeper: Berraat Turkey

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Standing tall: Berraat Turker denies Glentoran’s Curtis Allen
 

BERRAAT TURKER (Warrenpoint Town)

One of the first names that came to mind when assembling this team, would it really be Christmas without the turkey on the table for dinner? That means Warrenpoint goalie Berraat Turker is the first name on our teamsheet and is a reliable backstop to form the core of our team.

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Defender: Tony Candy Cane

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Ballymena United defender Tony Kane
 

TONY KANE (Ballymena United)

A great stocking filler or even a decoration for your tree, candy canes are synonymous with this time of year and, fortunately, correspond very well with Sky Blues defender Tony's surname! The 32-year-old has been an Irish League stalwart, now in his 10th season in the division, and provides a lot of experience to our squad.

 

Defender: Adam Mulled Wine

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Adam Mullan (right) tracks Shayne Lavery of Linfield (Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)
 

ADAM MULLAN (Coleraine)

Nothing better than getting in after a long day's work, making the fire and sitting down with a nice warm glass of mulled wine before bed, eh? None for Bannsiders defender Adam Mullan though, he's got a big rivalry game against Ballymena on Boxing Day, so he needs to be at 100%!

 

Defender: Mark Star-son

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Mark Carson celebrates scoring while playing for Portadown (Tony Henderon/PressEye)
 

MARK CARSON (Carrick Rangers)

It led the wise men to baby Jesus on that first Christmas night and now sits atop of most Christmas trees, the star has long been a symbol of Christmas in the same way that Mark Carson is symbolic of the hard working Carrick defence, and he's a welcome addition to our back four.

 

Defender: Billy Snow Burns

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Crusaders' Billy Joe Burns celebrates his goal during the Irish Cup quarter-final.
 

BILLY JOE BURNS (Crusaders)

Don't lie, everyone still gets excited when it snows at Christmas no matter how much it disrupts your plans - it's magical, right? The most experienced player in terms of Irish League games in our starting line-up, Burns slots into our back four and is a classy player to have playing at wing-back.

 

Midfielder: Andy Deck The Halls

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Glenavon winger Andy Hall
 

ANDY HALL (Glenavon)

... with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la. It's one of the most recognisable Christmas tunes alongside that Mariah Carey one we've all heard 100 times and a real earworm to boot. That puts Andy Hall on the wing for our Christmas XI, which is a great thing given his excellent displays in a Glenavon shirt over the last few seasons.

 

Midfielder: Fuad Yule

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Fuad Sule (left) celebrates promotion with Larne
 

FUAD SULE (Larne)

For those who were wondering, much like myself before I started writing this, yule is simply an archaic term for Christmas and is more commonly used by Germanic peoples for their Christmas festivals. That allows us to insert Fuad Sule into the centre of our midfield as a no-nonsense enforcer who will lay down the law!

 

Midfielder: Feliz Navidad Nasseri

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Glentoran's Navid Nasseri (centre) warming up (INPHO/Brian Little)
 

NAVID NASSERI (Glentoran)

To Spain we go for our second midfielder as we steal their phrase for Merry Christmas in order to slot Navid Nasseri into our line-up as a perfect compliment to Sule beside him. The Glens man has had an excellent start to his first season in NI football and is coming off the back of a man of the match display against Carrick. Prospero año y felicidad (Happy new year and happiness) to everyone!

 

Midfielder: Dylan We Three Kings

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Dylan King playing for Glenavon last season
 

DYLAN KING (Dungannon Swifts)

Alright, so I've had to add an 's' onto the end of his surname to make this one work, but hopefully Dylan King doesn't mind. Harking back to the biblical story of Christmas, the three kings visited baby Jesus and gave him gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh, giving us the song "We Three Kings", which allows us to start Dylan King on the wing for our Christmas XI!

 

Striker: Ho-Ho-Ho Gormley

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Happy at home: Joe Gormley is enjoying life back at Solitude
 

JOE GORMLEY (Cliftonville)

We had to find a way to insert the league's deadliest finisher into our team and, given he plays for a team in red, it's only fair that his name relates to the big man Santa himself. Gormley is the target man up front in our line-up, which makes sense given he leads the league this season with 14 goals already.

 

Striker: Stephen Flurry

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Stephen Curry celebrates scoring for Institute
 

STEPHEN CURRY (Institute)

That first flurry of snow always gets you excited and has you dreaming of snowball fights and making a few snowmen out in the back garden, doesn't it? That means we can put Stephen Curry into that second striker role, and the 'Stute man is a very capable finisher to compliment Gormley.

 

REPLACEMENTS

McKenzie Holly

McKENZIE PAULEY (Larne)

The Larne keeper made a name for himself with a couple of cameo appearances earlier this season and can prove prickly for strikers to beat, much like the plant!

 

Dermott McSleigh

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Warrenpoint defender Dermott McVeigh chases down Cliftonville striker Davy McDaid (Stephen Hamilton/PressEye)
 

DERMOTT McVEIGH (Warrenpoint Town)

With nine reindeer pulling it and packed to the brim with presents, the sleigh is definitely one of the most important parts of Christmas, just like McVeigh is a crucial member of the 'Point defence!

 

Hrvoje Plum Pudding

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Hrvoje Plum
 

HRVOJE PLUM (Glentoran)

You can call it Christmas pudding as well, but Hrvoje Plum's free-kick ability will be coming on from the bench for our Christmas XI to win a game late on...

 

Donal Rocking Around The Christmas Tree

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Donal Rocks scores for De La Salle in the 2016 Schools' Cup final (Tony Henderson/PressEye)
 

DONAL ROCKS (Cliftonville)

Another Christmas tune that will have everyone dancing merrily in the new old-fashioned way at the Christmas party hop, while Rocks gives us some youthful injection from the bench.

 

Adam Christmas Carol

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Adam Carroll in action for Co Down at the SuperCupNI (Stephen Hamilton/Presseye)
 

ADAM CARROLL (Linfield)

Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, pick a Christmas carol and it'll instantly be a classic. I don't know how good a singer Adam Carroll is, but one thing's for sure, he's an excellent striker to have coming on from the bench!

 

MANAGER

David He Lay

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Linfield manager David Healy
 

DAVID HEALY (Linfield)

It had to be, right? The Green And White Army made sure of that with their song to the tune of Away In A Manger, and right now there's no better manager in the Irish League given his side lead the league and are defending champions as well.

So what do you think? Anybody else you can think of including? Let us know @BelTel_Sport on Twitter or on our Facebook page!

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