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The 25 – Definitive Countdown Of The League Of Ireland’s Best Players

Daire O

The 25 – Definitive Countdown Of The League Of Eire’s Finest Gamers

The League of Eire Premier Division is stuffed with gifted gamers, and we have now got down to rank the highest 25.

Judging them on a number of metrics – from potential to pedigree, a participant’s significance to their workforce and their skill to supply when required, in addition to in the event that they’re well worth the admission alone  – we have now ranked the gamers competing within the high stage of Irish soccer. That is ‘The 25’, a definitive countdown of the League of Eire’s greatest gamers.

The scoring system took into consideration the next:

– Pedigree
– Efficiency in stress moments
– Potential
– Significance to their membership
– Well worth the admission charge


25. Daire O’Connor

Daire O'Connor

Dubbed the ‘Irish Messi’ and namechecked by Mick McCarthy, to say O’Connor has caught the attention could be an understatement. O’Connor scored twelve objectives final season for UCD and was named within the PFAI First Division Staff of the 12 months for his shows.

An attacking midfielder-cum-forward, able to enjoying throughout the front-line, he has but to hit high kind for Cork however has time on his aspect to dwell as much as the hype.

O’Connor featured as a part of our Greenlight sequence earlier this yr.

24. Conor McCarthy

Conor McCarthy

Simply 21 years of age, but nonetheless probably the most established gamers at Cork Metropolis, Conor McCarthy has an enormous future within the sport and huge expertise already underneath his belt. A graduate from their U19s aspect, he joined the senior set-up in 2016 and, after 22 appearances final marketing campaign, solidified himself on the coronary heart of Metropolis’s defence this season whereas chipping in along with his justifiable share of objectives.

A composed defender with large potential, McCarthy was concerned in Stephen Kenny’s first home under-21 squad earlier this yr.

McCarthy featured as a part of our Greenlight sequence earlier this yr.


23. James Talbot

James Talbot

Bohemians had a tricky process changing Shane Supple, their dependable primary who was voted into the workforce of the season final yr earlier than retiring on the finish of the marketing campaign. But, they’ve discovered the right substitute in Talbot. The previous Sunderland shot-stopper has saved 12 clear sheets already and made a number of vital saves.

He has earned himself cult standing with Bohs followers for his feedback about Shamrock Rovers after the current Dublin derby. The goalkeeper additionally has a fan in Mick McCarthy, who referred to as him into the Eire squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers in opposition to Gibraltar and Denmark. Talbot solely turned 22 a number of months in the past and his expertise ceiling is excessive.


22. Neil Farrugia

Neil Farrugia

The previous UCD winger Farrugia was the topic of curiosity from a plethora of golf equipment in each England and Eire earlier than Shamrock Rovers received the race for his signature.

An Eire under-21 worldwide who scored and impressed on his debut for Kenny’s aspect in opposition to Luxembourg, the 20-year previous’s skill as a left-sided winger has caught the attention over his final couple of seasons with the scholars.

Farrugia has simply that innovative Stephen Bradley’s aspect wants with the harm to Aaron McEneff and if he continues to impress, the French-born winger received’t be in Irish soccer for too lengthy extra, as he garners consideration from additional afield.


21. Sean Hoare

Sean Hoare

The Dubliner established himself as a key a part of Dundalk’s double-winning marketing campaign final yr and has excelled has in central midfield and proper again, in addition to in his pure place in central defence. Hoare beforehand received the FAI Cup with St. Pats in 2014 and could be a invaluable addition to any workforce within the league. He has received plenty of League of Eire medals with Dundalk and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time quickly.


20. Darragh Leahy

Darragh Leahy

A implausible addition to the Bohemians defence over the previous couple of seasons, Leahy has been a continuing at right-back. The 20-year previous is defensively sound and a risk going ahead. Leahy was concerned within the PFAI Staff of the 12 months final season and if he continues his performances in an thrilling Bohemians aspect this marketing campaign he’ll doubtless be concerned within the XI for a second yr operating.


19. Karl Sheppard

Karl Sheppard
A stalwart of Cork Metropolis’s success in current seasons, Sheppard has received the league title and two FAI Cups since becoming a member of from Shamrock Rovers forward of the 2015 season, scoring key objectives alongside the way in which. The striker is the one participant on this listing managing to play skilled soccer whereas affected by arthritis


18. Zack Elbouzedi 

Previously of West Brom and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, 20-year-old Zack Elbouzedi has discovered his ft at Waterford in his first season on the RSC. A gifted attacker who can play each centrally and out-wide, Elbouzedi has been extensively thought to be one of many standout gamers within the league this season.

His kind has additionally led to him changing into a favorite of Stephen Kenny’s Eire Below 21 setup, along with his eye for purpose from huge areas certainly one of Elbouzedi’s best property. Waterford will do nicely to carry onto the gifted attacker if he continues to progress his sport in such spectacular trend.


17. Liam Scales

Liam Scales

A gifted participant with a vibrant future, Scales has impressed for UCD this season, gaining admirers at worldwide and membership stage. The central defender has been on trial at Manchester Metropolis however appears set to affix Bristol Rovers. He’s the ball-playing defender one would anticipate to flourish at a better stage and at simply 20, has loads of time to take action.

Scales was featured as a part of our Greenlight sequence earlier within the yr.


16. Sean McLoughlin

Sean McLoughlin

One of many league’s most highly-rated younger defenders, McLoughlin has reportedly been on the radar of a bunch of English and Scottish golf equipment for fairly a while. He is barely in his second full season as a part of the Cork Metropolis first workforce however has rapidly turn into certainly one of their Most worthy gamers. A marauding centre-half who can discover a cross with ease, McLoughlin is nicely geared up to succeed on the highest stage.

McLoughlin spoke to Match of Day about his personal future in a function piece final yr.

15. Mikey Drennan

Drennan stated he was “disenchanted” along with his season up to now, however the St Patrick’s Athletic striker has been the membership’s most constant participant with six objectives. A bustling, aggressive ahead, able to main the road, operating the channels and discovering the web, Drennan nonetheless has the potential to be one of many league’s most prolific purpose scorers.

It’s also an achievement that the Kilkenny-native is enjoying on the high stage of Irish soccer once more after a two-year break with psychological well being struggles between 2016 and 2018. The previous Sligo Rovers striker is heading in the right direction to have his greatest season since netting 12 for Shamrock Rovers in 2016.

Drennan sat down with Match of Day final yr to bravely open up on his personal battle with psychological well being.

14. Jamie McGrath

Jamie McGrath’s harm this season derailed what was wanting like one other standout marketing campaign at Oriel Park for the 22-year previous. One of many league’s most gifted younger gamers at St Patrick’s Athletic, his transfer to Dundalk and subsequent bodily improvement has taken him to the following stage in his ever-improving profession.

Voted the PFAI Younger Participant of the 12 months final season, McGrath can function out huge however had been blossoming within the quantity 10 position with Dundalk this marketing campaign earlier than his premature foot harm.

13. Robbie Benson

Previous to returning for Dundalk within the away victory over Shamrock Rovers, Robbie Benson hadn’t performed for the reason that season opener in opposition to Sligo Rovers after struggling a damaged leg. Nevertheless, the versatile Benson stays probably the most gifted gamers within the league.

The whole midfielder, Benson has carved out a sensible profession in Irish soccer whereas additionally thriving academically. The 27-year-old achieved an ideal Leaving Cert, has a level in maths and chemistry, and a masters in actuarial science. A maths genius but additionally a inventive drive for Dundalk, Benson is able to dictating play, scoring constantly and infrequently spectacularly.


12. Trevor Clarke

Again to his greatest after a prolonged harm lay-off for almost all of final season, Clarke has been an important a part of a wonderful Shamrock Rovers defence this marketing campaign.

Fast going ahead and resolute in defence, Clarke has additionally been included in a few under-21 squads underneath Stephen Kenny, who regardless of leaving him out of the Toulon Event, is clearly a giant fan of the left-back.

Nonetheless simply twenty-one years previous, and rising an increasing number of since his return from harm after an preliminary burst on the scene, Trevor Clarke has all of the instruments to proceed to be one of many league’s best defenders.


11. Gearoid Morrissey

An all-action participant within the centre of Cork’s midfield, Morrissey is comfy on the ball and able to scoring from distance. A key a part of Cork Metropolis’s success over the previous few years, Morrissey confirmed his class earlier this season with one of many objectives of the marketing campaign. He flicked the ball over an opponent on the sting of Finn Harps’ field earlier than volleying it past Ciaran Gallagher, the primary of two objectives for the Cork-native within the sport.

A powerhouse presence in Cork’s engine room, regardless of a poor season for the Insurgent Military that sees them languishing above the relegation zone.

Morrissey sat down with Match of Day to talk about that purpose and his profession up to now.

10. Patrick McEleney 

Patrick McEleney

As gifted a participant as you’re prone to see, Dundalk’s attacking midfielder McEleney was an important a part of the Lilywhite’s European run and home dominance earlier than a transfer to Oldham Athletic in 2017.

The change to England didn’t fairly work out however the 26-year-old returned to Oriel Park midway by way of the final marketing campaign and helped Dundalk reclaim the title Cork Metropolis had snatched from them the yr earlier.

Identified for his scintillating ability and outrageous long-range efforts, accidents have hampered McEleney this marketing campaign however there’s little doubt that, on his day, McEleney is likely one of the most entertaining gamers in all of Irish soccer.


9. Dinny Corcoran

Dinny Corcoran

Corcoran has been probably the most constant forwards within the division over the previous few years, hitting double-figures in 4 of the final 5 Premier Division seasons. The Bohemians ahead was heading in the right direction to take action once more this marketing campaign just for harm to strike in opposition to Sligo Rovers in Could.

Earlier than having his season disrupted, the Bohemians ahead scored the successful purpose in two Dublin derbies and confirmed his sharpness isn’t consigned to the penalty field along with his look on quiz present Countdown.

8. Aaron McEneff

Aaron McEneff

It feels as if McEneff has been a mainstay of the Premier Division for years, regardless of the massively gifted attacking midfielder being simply twenty-three years previous.

He spent three extremely profitable seasons at Derry Metropolis which noticed him nominated for the PFAI Younger Participant of the 12 months, Participant of the 12 months and being named within the PFAI Staff of the 12 months in 2017.

McEneff moved to Tallaght and began off the season in glowing kind scoring 5 objectives in 9 video games earlier than an harm hampered his marketing campaign.


7. Brian Gartland

Brian Gartland

One in every of Dundalk’s longest-serving gamers, Gartland has helped the Lilywhites win 4 league titles, two FAI Cups and two League Cups. The central defender was additionally a part of the aspect that mounted a superb European run in 2016 and was made membership captain forward of the 2018 season.

With the membership dropping a number of key gamers over the previous few years and Stephen Kenny – the architect of their success – shifting onto the Eire U21s, Gartland has been a mainstay. He’s the glue that holds probably the most profitable workforce in current League of Eire historical past collectively.


6. Chris Shields

Chris Shields

A profession bursting on the seams with accolades, Dundalk’s Chris Shields is likely one of the membership’s longest-serving gamers and likewise one of many best to ever don the Lilywhite shirt in a decade that has seen its justifiable share of high quality.

A part of the history-making aspect of 2016 whose run to Europe will go down within the annals of Irish soccer folklore for years to come back, Shields had the very best season of his profession final yr as he was shortlisted for the Participant of the 12 months award whereas additionally making the PFAI Staff of the Season.

Shields has received 4 league titles, 4 home cups and has been the beating coronary heart of a Dundalk dynasty since 2014.

Within the early a part of his profession, Shields excelled off the sector too along with his Match of Day column.


5. Sean Gannon

Sean Gannon

Probably the most embellished gamers in League of Eire historical past, Gannon has received all of it a number of occasions. The suitable-back has earned 4 league titles with Dundalk and a league title apiece with Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic.

Gannon has additionally featured within the PFAI Staff of the 12 months for the final six years. The greatest participant in his place within the league, Gannon has been a necessary a part of probably the most profitable aspect in current Irish soccer historical past.


4. Danny Mandroiu

Danny Mandroiu

Solely within the league half a season, however Danny Mandroiu has already proven that he has all of the expertise to be an actual discover from Bohemians.

Cantona-esque as he saunters throughout the Dalymount turf with seven on his again and magic in his boots, Mandroiu has made his mark on the league because of a host of beautiful long-range efforts and pinpoint free-kicks.

Enjoying off the entrance, the 20-year previous’s penchant for magic on the largest moments sees him as one of many league’s best regardless of solely being right here half a yr, and probably shifting on quickly if he retains his kind present kind up.


3. Michael Duffy

Michael Duffy

One of many league’s most gifted gamers, Duffy has made a huge effect with Dundalk since becoming a member of the membership from Celtic forward of the 2017 season. The Derry-native has scored 28 objectives in 88 video games for the Irish champions from the wide-left place. 

He was additionally named the PFAI Participant of the 12 months for his performances final yr as Dundalk received the double, and has been the topic of a tug-of-war at worldwide stage between the Republic of Eire and Northern Eire. Duffy has subsequently said his intention to play for the Republic. 

Quick, direct and cozy putting the ball with both foot, Duffy is a skilful winger who makes clever off the ball runs and is ice-cool in entrance of purpose. It appears inevitable that the 24-year-old will make Mick McCarthy’s Eire squad in some unspecified time in the future.

Duffy spoke to Match of Day a few months in the past about his personal ambition and objectives for the longer term.


2. Pat Hoban

Pat Hoban

One of many best goalscorers the league has ever seen, Hoban’s return to Dundalk final season coincided with the Lilywhites reclaiming the title whereas he grabbed a file 29 objectives within the course of.

The quintessential frontman in a workforce stuffed with perennial winners, Hoban broke the membership’s goalscoring file this season when he discovered the web for the 70th time in a Lilywhites jersey.

Robust, fast and as egocentric as they arrive in entrance of purpose, the 27-year previous is heading in the right direction to be the league’s high scorer for the third time in his profession. One in every of Irish soccer’s best.


1. Jack Byrne

Jack Byrne

Since returning dwelling after a tough spell in British soccer, together with at Manchester Metropolis, Jack Byrne has been a key a part of Shamrock Rovers’ title problem.

The midfielder has scored some cracking objectives and chipped in with vital assists, however his impression has gone past mere statistics. Byrne is the brain of Stephen Bradley’s aspect, a gifted midfielder experiencing the very best spell of his profession who was rightly included within the senior Eire squad again in March.

Go and watch him play in Irish soccer whilst you can.

Byrne just lately sat down with Match of Day to talk candidly about his profession so far, his love for soccer and his future ambitions.


Have your say on ‘The 25’ through the use of the hashtag #The25 and letting us know through Fb, Twitter, Instagram. Keep tuned to Match of Day on Wednesday, the place we’ll unveil the gamers ranked 15-11.

The 25 was ranked by Match of Day’s Oisin McQueirns, Rob Redmond, and Richard Barrett.

The scoring system took into consideration the next:

– Pedigree
– Efficiency in stress moments
– Potential
– Significance to their membership
– Well worth the admission charge