I chose the Irish because they have a few interesting things going for them that other teams don't: first, war dogs. In the game, the dogs count as Warrior units, with the added ability to move through rough terrain without penalty, so they will be very mobile. Second, the Irish can field Curaidh, which are champions or lieutenants to the Warlord. Each Curadh figure counts as a unit unto itself, but with better combat stats than an individual Hearthguard.
The figures I got are from Gripping Beast, the "official" Saga miniatures line. The figures themselves are a bit of a mixed bag. The casting is good, but the sculpts are sometimes great, sometimes not so great. On a few of the figures, the hair is just a semi-spherical lump with dimples poked in it, and some of the figures' hands are pretty undefined - the thumb might be just a paddle sticking out the side of the hand, and the fingers aren't separated. Also, the poses of some figures are pretty uninspiring - the Warlord that came with the warband is in a really strange pose, with his right arm sticking straight out and up, and his head kind of leaning into his armpit. Not sure what's going on there. I ordered a set of Scots command figs along with the warband, and I used a couple of them for my Warlord instead. Unfortunately, that pose is mirrored in one of the Hearthguard figs.
For these guys, I decided to paint the shields freehand, rather than using transfers. I don't think the result is quite as nice and clean as I would have had with transfers, but I find that miniatures with shield transfers all end up looking a bit samey, and I wanted to do something a bit different with mine.
Anyhoo, here are the pics. I have my dogs and handler out front, the warlord in the centre, and a unit of Hearthguard with an associated Curadh on either side. Still to do: a unit of 8 Warriors and a unit of 12 Levy.
Zoom in to get the full details.