There may be higher profile games taking place in Lisbon and Cardiff today, but Wembley is the backdrop for the richest game in football. Whoever emerges victorious in the Championship play-off final between QPR and Derby county will be in line for a potential windfall of £100m as a result of playing in next season’s Premier League.
Derby finished in third place in the Championship after an impressive season under Steve McClaren, with Harry Redknapp’s QPR ending their campaign in fourth, five points further back. The Rams easily disposed of Brighton in the play-off semi finals, while QPR overcame Wigan in an edgy affair.
It’s an interesting day for football supporters from this neck of the woods, as there are six Irish footballers involved. Three on each team.
The centre-half will captain Derby in the biggest game of his career, hoping to lead the Rams to the Premier League for the first time since the ill-fated 2007/2008 season. That year Derby broke the wrong kind of records, finishing the campaign with a paltry 11 points.
Keogh has had a solid season at the back, playing the most games of Derby’s Irish contingent with 43 league appearances. He told thescore.ie during the week that captaining his side today will be something that lives with him forever.
The creative central midfielder hasn’t started as many games as Keogh for the Rams this season, but when he has been on the pitch he has been been a key contributor to the promotion push. He chipped in with 5 league goals, including one in an impressive rout of local rivals Nottingham Forest back in March.
Sammon gets a lot of flack from Irish fans but there’s no denying that he puts in a shift when called upon. He’s not the most technically gifted of players but there’s a lot to be said for honest graft. Steve McClaren obviously sees something in him, the Dubliner has made 42 appearances this season, scoring 4 goals and providing the assist for 3 more.
Queens Park Rangers
Dunne needs no introduction to Irish fans, and there’s no harm in having another look at what was arguably his greatest performance in the green of Ireland. This video shows a more subtle side to the Tallaght native however, and Derby County will undoubtedly be looking to keep QPR’s greatest creative threat pinned back today.
The former Aston Villa defender has been an almost constant presence in the centre of the R’s defence this year with 43 league appearances.
After a disappointing final few seasons at Wolves, culminating in playing in the third tier of English football. A loan move to QPR in January has offered some respite, but Doyle is far from the player he was a few seasons ago. He’s not first choice at Loftus Road, behind Bobby Zamora, Andrew Johnson and top scorer Charlie Austin in the pecking order.
The Wexford man has 11 league appearances and two goals to his name since joining Harry Redknapp’s squad.
His first goal for the club came in his debut against Burnley.
The keeper was limited in his appearances this season due to Robert Green’s performances between the posts. Nonetheless Murphy was called into action in two league games, as well as playing in the cup competitions too.