St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin. PA
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McGrath scoops Player of the Season award after Goodwin guides St Mirren to 32-year high

Irish eyes are smiling in Paisley.

DEFENDER CONOR MCCARTHY, one of the members of St Mirren’s sizeable Irish contingent, described his side as “the nearly men” of Scottish football last week.

Indeed, when supporters of the Paisley club reflect on how their team performed in the three main competitions this season, thoughts of what might have been are likely to linger.

A win at Hamilton Academical in their final game before the Scottish Premiership split in March would have secured a top-half finish for St Mirren.

Thanks to a goal from Meath native Jamie McGrath, they were on course to accomplish that aim until Kyle Munro’s 89th-minute equaliser scuppered the plan.

St Mirren also narrowly missed out on reaching the finals of the Scottish Cup and Betfred Cup, suffering one-goal defeats to St Johnstone and Livingston respectively in the semi-finals of both competitions.

Nevertheless, with the 2020-21 season in the books, they can now reflect on their most successful campaign in 32 years.

This afternoon’s goalless draw with Dundee United sealed a seventh-place finish for the Buddies – their highest since 1988-89.

Given that they were also the only team to defeat Rangers over 90 minutes in the 43 domestic fixtures played by Steven Gerrard’s side, it has been a season to be proud of for a club managed by once-capped former Republic of Ireland international Jim Goodwin.

The 39-year-old Waterford native’s stock has risen considerably since his appointment in June 2019. He began his managerial career at Alloa Athletic, who he steered to promotion to the Scottish Championship.

Goodwin has recruited several compatriots at St Mirren, with McGrath, McCarthy, Dylan Connolly, Jake Doyle-Hayes and captain Joe Shaughnessy all featuring prominently throughout this season.

Following today’s game, the club announced that McGrath had won its Player of the Season award after the attacking midfielder contributed 17 goals.

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, who brought McGrath to Dundalk from St Patrick’s Athletic in 2017, is sure to have the 24-year-old in his thoughts for next month’s training camp in Spain, which will include friendlies against Andorra (3 June) and Hungary (8 June).

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