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Dublin: 10°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Player ratings: how the Irish footballers in Britain fared this season

A review of how the Boys in Green have got on domestically since the start of the campaign.

N.B. FOR THE purposes of concision, we’ve restricted this list to players currently in or around the Ireland squad, basing our critiques solely on what they achieved at club level, rather than on the international stage.

In addition, despite being in the Ireland squad, Kevin Doyle is not included because he plays in MLS — the American football season is still ongoing.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the footballers in question are rated relative to the level that they are currently playing at. So just because a Championship player scores higher than a Premier League star, it does not necessarily mean we are saying he is a better footballer than his top-flight counterpart.


West Ham United v Swansea City - Premier League - London Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Darren Randolph: A very mixed season for Randolph. 22 Premier League appearances arguably represents career-best form for the 30-year-old. There were some fine moments too, such as when the Bray native excelled during West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Man United at Old Trafford back in November with a string of superb saves. Nevertheless, the season ended in disappointing fashion for Randolph — he lost his place in the side to Adrián following some unconvincing displays. The Hammers stopper needs to do better next season, particularly if he wants to keep starting ahead of the likes of Keiren Westwood and Rob Elliot at international level. 6/10

Keiren Westwood: Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the Championship, Westwood earned 16 clean sheets from 43 league appearances and was named the club’s player of the season as a result. Nevertheless, that will be little consolation for the 32-year-old, as his side suffered heartache in the playoffs for the second season running. 9/10

Rob Elliot: Finally got back playing after being out with a long-term injury, Elliot featured three times towards the end of the season. Next year, with Newcastle in the Premier League, the 31-year-old stopper will likely compete with Karl Darlow for the Magpies’ number jersey. 6/10

Colin Doyle: Another Irish goalkeeper who endured playoff heartache, as Bradford were beaten 1-0 by Millwall in the League One final. With just 43 goals conceded, of all the sides in the division, only Bolton had a superior goals-against record to the Bantams. 8/10


Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League - Anfield Source: PA Wire/PA Images

John O’Shea: 32 appearances in all competitions is very good going for a 36-year-old representing a Premier League club. However, O’Shea’s best days are clearly behind him, and he could not prevent the Black Cats’ relegation to the Championship this season. 6/10

Stephen Ward: Arriving in England as a striker from Bohs, Ward hasn’t done too badly at all for a converted left-back. He has been a regular presence in a Clarets team that has exceeded expectations in the Premier League, while it is also hard to think of a more improved Irish player over the past year or two. In a little over 12 months, he has gone from a reserve in the Championship to one of the first names on Burnley’s teamsheet in the Premier League, with the 31-year-old playing 42 times in all competitions this season. 8/10

Paul McShane: The Wicklow native has had a very good season overall, playing a substantial part in Reading’s promotion challenge. His campaign was marred to a degree, however, by a reckless high tackle that prompted his sending off in the playoff semi-final first leg against Fulham. He misses Reading’s season-defining final with Huddersfield on 29 May as a result. 7/10

Marc Wilson: Injuries and a lack of first-team opportunities meant Wilson never really got going this season. The 29-year-old has made just three appearances apiece for Bournemouth and West Brom, moving to the latter on loan during the January transfer window. 5/10

Richard Keogh: Featured regularly for a Derby side that had the sixth-best defensive record in the Championship. Keogh will be disappointed though that the Rams finished 13 points off the playoff places. 7/10

Alex Pearce: A reliable presence alongside Keogh in Derby’s defence, featuring 46 times in total, the 28-year-old has done very well to resurrect his Rams career having looked surplus to requirements after receiving hardly any game time last season. 7/10

Cyrus Christie: At 24, Christie remains an extremely promising full-back, though it’s been a frustrating campaign. A foot injury suffered back in November ruled him out of action for a substantial portion of the season, restricting him to 33 appearances, while he didn’t start Derby’s final two games of the campaign. 7/10

Shane Duffy: Arguably the most talented Irish defender playing at any level right now, Duffy was an integral part of Brighton’s promotion push, playing 39 times before a training ground injury caused him to miss the end-of-season run-in. Fortunately for the Derry native though, the Seagulls still managed to excel in his absence and earned a place in the Premier League as a result. 8/10

Andy Boyle: Took him a while to break into the Preston team, but once he did, the 25-year-old Dubliner regularly produced the kind of solid, assured performances that have caused League of Ireland fans to rave about him for years. 7/10

John Egan: The 24-year-old, who made his Ireland debut recently and played 38 times in all competitions this season, continues to progress at a steady rate, after a fine first season with Brentford in the Championship. Towards the end of the campaign, Egan lost his place in the team to Yoann Barbet, but head coach Dean Smith was still full of praise when asked recently about the Cork-born defender, describing him as a “leader” who has “got better and better”. 7/10

Matt Doherty: Continues to excel for Wolves, with some suggesting that he was the Championship club’s player of the season, before his campaign ended in April due to a hamstring injury. Deserves to be in contention for Ireland’s right-back slot along with Christie while Seamus Coleman recovers from his leg fracture. 8/10

Kevin Long: The 26-year-old former Cork City defender has had a terrible time with injuries, and partly as a consequence, barely got a look in all season. However, he made his full Premier League debut earlier this month and could see more game time next season, particularly if star centre-back Michael Keane departs Burnley as expected. 6/10

Séamus Coleman: Coleman looked to have gained a new lease of life and was really thriving under Ronald Koeman, before his much-discussed leg fracture on international duty ruled him out for the season. 8/10

Ciaran Clark: Leaving Aston Villa appears to have been good for Clark. He was an important part of Newcastle winning the Championship, featuring 41 times in all competitions this season before picking up an injury that has ruled him out of Ireland’s crucial upcoming clash with Austria. 8/10


Huddersfield Town v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship - John Smith's Stadium Source: Clint Hughes

Aiden McGeady: Badly needed to find a club where he was loved following his forgettable stint at Everton, the 31-year-old winger seemed to find the perfect match in the form of Preston. Voted the Championship Player of the Month for March, McGeady has thrived at Deepdale and has since been voted their Player of the Year. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Championship club are now likely to snap up the Ireland star on a permanent £2million deal from the Toffees. 8/10

Glenn Whelan: Too often, people focus on Whelan’s limitations rather than celebrating his strengths. The 33-year-old Dubliner featured 36 times in all competitions this season and remarkably, he is closing in on his 300th Premier League appearance — provided he can remain injury-free and stay in the team next season, he will achieve that feat. 7/10

James McClean: In contrast with international football where he has arguably been Ireland’s player of the World Cup qualifying campaign so far, McClean will feel he could probably play better at club level. 42 appearances in all competitions for West Brom isn’t bad going by any means, though a significant portion of those saw him in the impact sub role. 7/10

James McCarthy: Occasionally showed glimpses of his best form — McCarthy was superb in Everton’s 2-1 win over Arsenal last December — but injury problems and added competition with the signings of Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin meant he was invariably out of the picture at Goodison Park. 6/10

Wes Hoolahan: The 35-year-old, who played 36 times for Norwich and Ireland this season, deserves plenty of credit for remaining sharp and picking up Norwich’s Player of the Season award. Like the rest of his teammates though, the former Shels player was a little inconsistent at times — the Canaries’ 5-1 loss to Sheffield Wednesday and the 7-1 defeat of Reading took place only a few weeks apart. 8/10

Robbie Brady: Had a difficult start to the season at Norwich, with his defensive frailties evident when deployed at left-back, while the uncertainty over the Dubliner’s future did not help matters. After signing for Burnley, he scored a stunning free kick in his side’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea back in February, but the former Man United youngster didn’t really push on from there. The 25-year-old winger has been coming off the bench more often than not in recent weeks, and you get the feeling that the Irish Footballer of the Year hasn’t fully adapted to life at Turf Moor since his record-breaking transfer in January. 6/10

Jeff Hendrick: Irish central midfielders playing week in week out in the Premier League are few and far between, so Hendrick deserves credit for doing that much. The Dubliner also won the Clarets’ goal of the season for his beautifully taken strike against Bournemouth, but as with Brady, there is the sense that Hendrick has more to offer at this level than he is currently showing. 7/10

Darron Gibson: Having been told to look for a new club by Ronald Koeman at Everton, Gibson was given a chance to prove himself at Sunderland by his old Toffees boss David Moyes. So far, the Scottish manager’s gamble on the out-of-favour player hasn’t really paid off, with the 29-year-old Derry native part of a woeful Sunderland outfit who were deservedly relegated recently, as the ex-Man United star made just 11 Premier League appearances in total this season. 5/10

Eunan O’Kane: Joined Leeds in the summer window after being deemed surplus to requirements at Bournemouth, O’Kane wasn’t always an automatic starter at Elland Road and the 26-year-old needs to do more to establish himself at club and international level. 6/10

Harry Arter: A key part of Eddie Howe’s overachieving Bournemouth side, Harry Arter formed an impressive midfield partnership with Jack Wilshere, with the 27-year-old featuring 37 times in all competitions ultimately. 8/10

Callum O’Dowda: Made the step up from League Two to Championship level, the winger appeared 42 times in all competitions though he often had to make do with an impact sub role for Bristol City. At 22, he needs to push on and start truly fulfilling his potential next season. 6/10

Stephen Gleeson: A difficult season for the 28-year-old Dubliner. Birmingham narrowly avoided relegation, and having been a regular in the side for the first half of the campaign, Gleeson had to make do with a substitute role towards the latter part of the season. 6/10

Jonny Hayes: Nominated for the PFA Scotland player of the year, Hayes has been a revelation on the wing for Aberdeen for a number of years now and played a big role in their second-place finish, scoring nine goals in 42 appearances in all competitions. 9/10

Daryl Horgan: Arguably hasn’t adapted quite as seamlessly as his former Dundalk teammate Boyle at Preston, Horgan has had some bright moments since joining Simon Grayson’s side, though his last six appearances of the season were all off the bench, as tiredness perhaps got the better of him, given that the 24-year-old hasn’t had much of a break since the start of the 2016 League of Ireland season. 7/10

Conor Hourihane: Based on his first half of the season, Hourihane would easily deserve a 9/10, as his regular goals and brilliant all-round performances turned him into a cult hero at Barnsley. Granted, his form has been less scintillating since joining Aston Villa in January, but he can still reflect on a largely excellent campaign at club level. 8/10

Liam Kelly: A breakthrough year for the 21-year-old, he has made a major contribution to promotion-chasing Reading, featuring 35 times in all competitions. It would be great to see a player of his intelligence and technical ability playing in the Premier League. 8/10

David Meyler: Had a very encouraging start to the campaign, but current boss Marco Silva appears to be less of a fan of the Cork native than Mike Phelan was, with the midfielder getting less game time under the new manager before medial knee ligament damage ended his season prematurely back in April. Nevertheless, 28 appearances in all competitions for a Premier League club is nothing to be sniffed at. 6/10

Stephen Quinn: Despite Reading’s excellent season, it’s been a miserable campaign for Quinn on a personal level. The 31-year-old midfielder has played 12 times in all competitions, but has been struggling with a knee injury, meaning his last competitive game came in October. Even before then, the former St Pat’s youngster was left frustrated more often than not, as he invariably appeared off the bench. Quinn will consequently finish the season with just one Championship start under his belt. 5/10

Anthony Pilkington: One of those players who has seemed forever on the fringes of the Irish team, Pilkington enjoyed a decent season for a Cardiff side that finished 12th in the Championship, scoring eight goals in 36 appearances in the process. 7/10


Southampton v Manchester United - EFL Cup Final Package Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Shane Long: After what was largely considered a career-best campaign last season, 2016-17 unfortunately felt like somewhat of a backwards step for Long. Despite the odd fine moment, such as his well-taken late goal in the EFL Cup semi-final against Liverpool, frustration will be the overriding emotion when he reflects on the last few months.

Claude Puel hasn’t got the best out of the Tipperary native, as Ronald Koeman managed to do before him. Consequently, Long has been in and out of the Southampton side all season, with January signing Manolo Gabbiadini now clearly the preferred first-choice striker for the Saints. Moreover, as good as his contribution in general play can be, three Premier League goals all season isn’t really good enough for a striker playing at that level. 6/10

Jonathan Walters: Continues to be a solid Premier League performer at 33, Walters managed six goals in 29 appearances for Stoke this season, often operating in the wide position rather than as an out-and-out striker. And the former Bolton and Ipswich player might have had more goals were it not for bad fortune interrupting his progress, with a knee injury sidelining him for a number of weeks last January. 7/10

Daryl Murphy: A decent but far from spectacular campaign, the 34-year-old managed seven goals from 23 appearances this season. However, with Dwight Gayle starring up front for the Magpies, Murphy was usually used as a back-up striker, and whether he gets much of a look in for Newcastle at Premier League level remains to be seen. 6/10

David McGoldrick: The 29-year-old’s scoring rate of five goals in 32 appearances was less than spectacular, but the regularity with which he was played at Ipswich emphasises that McGoldrick remains a valued member of the team by boss Mick McCarthy. 6/10

Adam Rooney: With 19 goals in 50 appearances, Rooney was a key player for Aberdeen as they beat Rangers to second place in the Scottish Premier League. It could get even better for the Dubliner should his side beat Celtic in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final. 8/10

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Paul Fennessy

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