Stephen Ireland represented the Republic of Ireland at various youth levels before he made his debut for the senior team in 2006. He played for the Irish team at under-15, under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-21 levels. At the under-18 level, Stephen Ireland had a dispute with coach Brian Kerr after he was left out of the team for a game in his hometown of Cobh. He was told to watch the match from the stands. The game ended in a 4-0 defeat for his team. Afterwards, Kerr said Ireland will be involved in the next match in Cork City.