James Crombie/INPHO James McClean (file pic).

Player ratings: How the Irish footballers in Britain and beyond fared this season

A reflection on how Stephen Kenny’s men performed.

N.B. For the purposes of concision, we’ve restricted this list to players who have been in and around the Irish squad in recent times. Each player is also judged according to their level, so a League One player who scores higher than a Premier League star does not necessarily make him a better footballer in our eyes.


Gavin Bazunu: Will be disappointed with how his season panned out. Bazunu’s performances drew criticism from Jamie Carragher among others. He made 32 appearances for Southampton before being dropped following the 3-3 draw with Southampton in April. The Saints were relegated in his absence and it will be interesting to see whether he opts to move on or stay and fight for his place. Still, while it may have been frustrating more often than not, to play as often as he did in the English top flight at the age of 21 is an achievement in itself. 6/10

Mark Travers: Looked impressive in the final-day match against Everton, pulling off a couple of fine saves. However, it was a disappointing season overall for Travers, who started the campaign as Bournemouth’s number one, only to be replaced when they signed the more experienced Neto. He still managed 12 Premier League appearances overall, but only two of those came in 2023. 5/10

Max O’Leary: Arguably the best-performing Irish goalkeeper across the water this season. O’Leary appeared in 33 of Bristol City’s 46 Championship matches after his main rival for the jersey Dan Bentley joined Wolves in January. If he can continue to play well and regularly, there is no reason why he can’t establish himself as a more frequent presence in the Ireland squad. 7/10

Caoimhín Kelleher: Made just one Premier League appearance, a final-day 4-4 draw with Southampton, and played four games in total for Liverpool. Manager Jurgen Klopp has suggested he could stay but the 24-year-old surely needs to get away and play first-team football elsewhere if he is to challenge Bazunu for the Ireland number-one spot.  5/10


nathan-collins-of-wolves-during-the-premier-league-match-between-wolverhampton-wanderers-and-everton-at-molineux-wolverhampton-on-saturday-20th-may-2023-photo-gustavo-pantano-mi-news-credit-mi Alamy Stock Photo Nathan Collins of Wolves. Alamy Stock Photo

Nathan Collins: After a brilliant individual end to the campaign last year that included a Premier League Player of the Month nomination for April, this season felt like the opposite to his short Burnely stint, in that he made an encouraging start at Wolves and played regularly initially, before struggling for game time in the second half of the campaign. As with Bazunu, for such a young player to have played relatively often should not be overlooked, nonetheless, the most expensive Irish footballer in history will feel he can do better. 6/10  

Darragh Lenihan: Received a red card in just his second appearance for the club but aside from that blip, made a relatively seamless transition, having moved from Blackburn to Middlesbrough in the close season, making 43 appearances for Michael Carrick’s side, who were unlucky to suffer defeat in the playoff semi-finals against Coventry. 8/10

Luke McNally: After being deemed surplus to requirements by Vincent Kompany’s Burnley in January, having made just four appearances in the Belgian’s time at the club, the 23-year-old Meath native bounced back impressively, joining Coventry on loan and making 22 appearances for Mark Robins’ side, who were agonisingly just a penalty shootout away from Premier League football. McNally will have done himself no harm with a series of eye-catching performances and it will be interesting to see what his next move will be, whether he wants to fight for his place with the Clarets or try his luck elsewhere. 8/10

Shane Duffy: A very disappointing season for the 31-year-old, whose loan move from Brighton to Fulham didn’t really work out. He made just five Premier League appearances, with four of those coming in the 89th minute. You suspect he needs a fresh start and the Derry native has been linked with a move to Championship side Norwich in recent days, as he is due to become a free agent this summer. 5/10

Andrew Omobamidele: Still only 20, Omobamidele was in and out of a Norwich team that finished 13th in the Championship. He made 35 appearances for the Canaries in total, 27 of which were starts, even captaining the side on occasion. In addition, Omobamidele’s encouraging performances led to the €20 million-rated defender being linked with a surprise move to AC Milan. 7/10

Dara O’Shea: A model of consistency, the 24-year-old had played every minute of Championship action for West Brom before an injury picked up on international duty ended his season prematurely. The Baggies suffered in his absence, as they fell short in their late push for promotion. 8/10  

Seamus Coleman: The 34-year-old may no longer be able to play 38 games a season, but to still be operating at the levels he is when you consider the multiple injuries and various setbacks he has endured is impressive. His crucial winning goal against Leeds was a rare highlight in what was a dour campaign overall for Everton, and without the skipper’s considerable influence, they undoubtedly would not have avoided relegation. He made 23 appearances in total before an injury earlier this month against Leicester ended his season prematurely. 7/10

John Egan: Remains a key player both for Ireland and Sheffield United, with whom he helped clinch promotion from the Championship. Including Ireland games, the 30-year-old made 60 appearances in all competitions and managed to retain a remarkably high standard of performance for the duration of the campaign. 8/10

Ryan Manning: A phenomenal campaign for Manning, who was recently named Swansea’s Player of the Season, contributing nine assists and five goals, while creating more chances than any other player in the Championship. He is set to leave the Welsh club, with his contract due to expire and is consequently unlikely to be short of offers from elsewhere. 9/10

Danny McNamara: A very solid performer for a Millwall side that were unlucky to miss out on the playoffs, McNamara made 42 appearances in all competitions for the Lions. He has been on standby for several Ireland panels and was included in the recent training squad for the end-of-season camp. With Seamus Coleman not getting any younger, the 24-year-old appears to be next in line behind Matt Doherty and will surely earn senior recognition sooner rather than later. 8/10

Sean McLoughlin: Another player who was rewarded with inclusion in Stephen Kenny’s end-of-season training camp, McLoughlin — who joined the club from Cork City in 2019 — has been playing well at Hull for a while now. The 26-year-old had a rocky start to the season, making just three Championship appearances between August and November. However, he featured regularly from December onwards and was rewarded with a new long-term contract last month. 7/10

Liam Scales: Having failed to establish himself at Celtic, the former Shamrock Rovers man has since flourished on loan at Aberdeen, playing 39 times in all competitions and helping the club to finish third behind the two Glasgow giants. The 24-year-old, who has admitted his future is uncertain, may opt to seal a permanent switch, with the Dons likely keen to extend his stay at the club. 8/10

Matt Doherty: A disappointing campaign for Doherty. The 31-year-old initially struggled to get a look in at Spurs, making just seven Premier League starts. He then joined Atletico Madrid, but his game time in Spain was even more limited, with just two cameo appearances off the bench. A move back to England surely beckons, with former club Wolves and Crystal Palace reportedly interested in acquiring his services. 5/10

Cyrus Christie: The 30-year-old’s form has tended to go a little under the radar at times. He had a fine first half of the season in the Championship with Hull, scoring three times in 28 appearances. However, a knee injury curtailed his campaign at the end of February, with the full-back still working his way back from that blow. 7/10

James McClean: Voted Player of the Season for Wigan, having made 48 appearances for the Latics in all competitions. There was some speculation he might move on following the club’s relegation from the Championship, but the 34-year-old instead confirmed he would be staying with the club next season. 8/10

Enda Stevens: A season to forget for Stevens, of his 12 Championship appearances, just three came in 2023, with injury issues contributing to the Dubliner’s woes. The Blades had a superb season, earning promotion to the Premier League, but the 32-year-old may not stick around this summer with his future uncertain. 5/10

Jimmy Dunne: Made 40 appearances for a QPR side that appeared to be vying for promotion at one point in the season but ultimately flirted with relegation amid a disastrous second half of the campaign. The 25-year-old Dundalk native has proven himself to be a solid Championship performer in the last two seasons but still appears to be well down the pecking in the list of talented Irish centre-backs. 7/10

Festy Ebosele: 17 Serie A appearances represents an encouraging tally for the 20-year-old Wexford-born wing-back. The caveat is that only four of those were starts, and the former Derby man will realise the importance of establishing himself as a regular starter at Udinese to enhance his chances of featuring for the Ireland senior team. 6/10.

Callum O’Dowda: Widely viewed as a winger or attacking midfielder until recently, O’Dowda has undergone something of a reinvention at Cardiff and is now a regular option at wing-back for club and country alike. The 28-year-old’s career has regularly been hampered by injuries. Nonetheless, he enjoyed one of his most consistent seasons in this regard, featuring 43 times in all competitions, though his side were a little fortunate, finishing just one place above the relegation zone. Still, O’Dowda was consistently one of their better performers. 8/10

Robbie Brady: After a couple of years of injury hell, the 31-year-old enjoyed a much-needed run of games at senior level this year. His form at Preston saw him return to the Ireland fold and make a handful of appearances. He played 36 times in total for the Lilywhites and has impressed to the extent that he was recently offered a contract extension. 7/10


jeff-hendrick-8-of-reading-during-the-sky-bet-championship-match-reading-vs-hull-city-at-select-car-leasing-stadium-reading-united-kingdom-18th-march-2023photo-by-gareth-evansnews-images Alamy Stock Photo Jeff Hendrick #8 of Reading Alamy Stock Photo

Jeff Hendrick: A somewhat mixed season for Hendrick. After being deemed surplus to requirements at Newcastle, he joined Reading on loan. The 31-year-old made 46 appearances in all competitions, more than double what he managed in the previous campaign, and highlights included a goal-of-the-season contender against QPR. However, he could not prevent the Royals’ relegation to League One and he now faces another summer with his future up in the air. 7/10

Conor Hourihane: It was a disappointing finish to the season for Hourihane and the sizeable Irish contingent at Derby as they fell just short of the League One playoffs. The 32-year-old Cork native still made an invaluable contribution, with seven goals from 44 appearances. He has won 36 caps for his country but was last called up by Stephen Kenny in September last year for the Armenia game, and another season in England’s third tier could further diminish his chances of getting a look in at international level. 8/10

Alan Browne: An injury doubt for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers, Alan Browne has been an important player for Stephen Kenny and is one of only three players (along with Michael Obafemi and John Egan) to score more than once for his country in the last 12 months. It has been a less-than-vintage season at club level, with one goal from 36 appearances, though the 28-year-old missed the end-of-season run-in after picking up an injury in early April, with his side falling short in their bid for the playoffs in his absence. 7/10

Josh Cullen: The 27-year-old was a key player for a Clarets side that gained promotion to the Premier League, making 43 appearances and having a big influence on Vincent Konmpany’s men. He was ultimately named Burnley FC’s Player of the Season and the Players’ Player of the Season, and will likely be key again in their bid to stay in the top flight next season. 9/10

Will Smallbone: Made 43 appearances amid an impressive loan spell at Stoke with highlights including a hat-trick of assists against Sunderland. The Potters, who finished the season in 16th place, would likely be keen to keep hold of the 23-year-old, but the player recently suggested he was hopeful of breaking into the Southampton starting XI next season. 8/10

Mark Sykes: The 25-year-old Belfast native had an encouraging season debut season with Bristol City, who finished 14th. Making the step up to the Championship last summer after joining the club from Oxford, he scored six goals in 42 appearances for Nigel Pearson’s side. 8/10

Jayson Molumby: Arguably Molumby’s best season yet having made the permanent switch from Brighton to West Brom at the end of last season. He earned glowing praise from manager Carlos Corberan after playing through the pain barrier in aid of the Baggies’ ultimately unsuccessful promotion bid and featured in 54 games in total this season if you include international appearances. As a result, he won his side’s player-of-the-season award. 9/10

Sammie Szmodics: One of the star players for a Blackburn side who fell heartbreakingly short of the playoffs on goal difference, the 27-year-old attacking midfielder scored five goals from 37 appearances and also was on target in their memorable FA Cup win over Leicester City. However, he still has some work to do to get into the Ireland squad, as he was a somewhat surprising omission from the recent end-of-season Ireland training camp. 8/10

Jack Taylor: The club’s player of the season according to the Peterborough Telegraph, the 24-year-old scored eight goals in 44 appearances in League One, though the team’s season ended on a sour note as they suffered an incredible playoff loss on penalties to Sheffield Wednesday, despite winning the first leg 4-0. Kenny knows the player well from his Ireland U21s days and Taylor was named in the recent end-of-season Ireland training squad, despite having not yet been capped at senior level. 8/10

Jason Knight: The 22-year-old is expected to depart League One side Derby following their failed promotion bid. He scored twice in 38 appearances and earned high praise from manager Paul Warne despite ongoing doubts surrounding his future. 7/10

Jamie McGrath: Endured a hugely disappointing end to the season as he was part of a Dundee United side relegated from the Scottish Premiership, but emerged with a creditable eight goals from 32 appearances. Surplus to requirements at parent club Wigan, the Scottish club’s boss Jim Goodwin has indicated he hopes to sign the Ireland international on a permanent deal. 7/10


cardiff-citys-callum-robinson-celebrates-scoring-their-sides-second-goal-of-the-game-during-the-sky-bet-championship-match-at-st-andrews-birmingham-picture-date-tuesday-february-14-2023 Alamy Stock Photo Cardiff City's Callum Robinson celebrates scoring. Alamy Stock Photo

Callum Robinson: The 28-year-old managed five goals in the Championship for Cardiff this season before suffering a season-ending injury in February. This lengthy absence, coupled with the emergence of players like Evan Ferguson and Mikey Johnston, means his stock seems to have fallen to a degree from an Irish perspective as well. He likely needs a good season next year to stay firmly in Stephen Kenny’s thoughts. 6/10

Mikey Johnston: After struggling to establish himself at Celtic, Johnston made a bold move to Portugal, signing on loan with Primeira Liga club Vitória Guimarães. Whether he is good enough to make the breakthrough with the Scottish champions remains to be seen but he certainly did his cause no harm, making 25 appearances for a side that finished sixth and secured a European spot in the process. His two cameos off the bench for Ireland against Latvia and France were similarly eye-catching. 7/10

Troy Parrott: He will be disappointed to have managed only three goals in 32 Championship appearances with Preston but at least played with relative regularity and formed a decent partnership with fellow Irish youngster Tom Cannon. Still only 21 with time to develop, though Parrott appears to remain a long way off first-team football at parent club Tottenham. 6/10

Scott Hogan: 10 goals in 37 appearances represents a decent return for the 31-year-old when you consider he was part of a troubled Birmingham side under former Ireland assistant John Eustace, who finished 17th in the Championship, nine points clear of the relegation zone. Yet his post-World Cup form was disappointing, with nine of his 10 goals coming in the first half of the season. 7/10

Evan Ferguson: An outstanding breakthrough season for the 18-year-old. To score 10 goals in all competitions for a Brighton side playing at such a high level is a remarkable achievement, particularly when you consider he had to wait until St Stephen’s Day for his first Premier League appearance of the campaign. 9/10

Chiedozie Ogbene: A mixed campaign for Ogbene, who is expected to leave Rotherham this summer. By his own admission, the 25-year-old’s form was inconsistent, with just two of his nine goals from 42 Rotherham appearances coming in 2023. However, a man-of-the-match performance in Ireland’s Euros qualifier with France provided a reminder that he is capable of playing at a higher level than the Championship. 7/10

Tom Cannon: Briefly got game time for Everton in the Premier League before a successful loan spell at Preston that saw him finish the season strongly, registering eight goals in his last 14 appearances. The 20-year-old’s reward was an invite to Ireland’s end-of-season training camp, though he was forced to pull out due to tonsilitis. 8/10

Will Keane: The 30-year-old ended the season with a creditable 12 goals in 43 appearances for relegated Wigan, though he experienced something of a goal drought in the second half of the campaign, finding the net just twice in his last 18 appearances. He was included in Ireland’s end-of-season training camp, but will likely need better club performances to force himself into the forefront of Stephen Kenny’s thoughts. 7/10

Adam Idah: A contract extension earlier this year was a testament to the faith Norwich still have in Idah and with Teemu Pukki set to leave the club, the Corkonian may now be given a more central role in the first team. Yet it was a somewhat frustrating season for the 22-year-old, who managed two goals from 25 Championship appearances, though only 11 of those were starts. 6/10

Michael Obafemi: Still only 22, the Dubliner has obvious potential, though he likely will look back on the 2022-23 season as a troubled campaign. He finished the season with five Championship goals as he struggled to put a run of games together. Obafemi initially saw limited game time at Swansea amid uncertainty surrounding his future, while he struggled to establish himself at Burnley after joining the Clarets on loan in January. The ex-Southampton attacker made just 12 starts all season, and each of his appearances for Vincent Kompany’s side have been from the bench. 6/10

CJ Hamilton: A disappointing season for the 28-year-old, who scored just once in 39 appearances as Blackpool were relegated. His form hasn’t really been good enough to warrant a call-up and so he is unlikely to feature in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, having not been part of the Ireland squad since the Ukraine match last year. 6/10

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