That’s a wrap on another League of Ireland campaign.
It will certainly be one we will never forget in more ways than one.
This is normally the ideal time to look back and reflect on the season we just witnessed. One fun way to do that is pick out our personal Team of the Season.
So, today we will be doing just that.
While I don’t speak for everyone here at The Big Kick Off, this is my Premier Division Team of the Season.
Don’t worry, a First Division team will be coming along in due course.
As always let us know your team in the comment section below, it would be great to check them out.
Formation – 4-3-3
GK – Alan Mannus (Shamrock Rovers)
This was one of the harder positions to fill up I must admit.
Waterford’s Brian Murphy and Sligo’s Ed McGinty did come into consideration.
However, it’s hard to see past the goalkeeper with the best record of the season.
Mannus is now into his second run with Shamrock Rovers and has easily been their best keeper over the past ten years. They even struggled to replace him when he initially left.
The 38-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. His composure makes him the ideal man to stand between the Rovers sticks for the next couple of years.
Mannus has kept 13 clean sheets this season, while his defence has helped with that figure. It can’t be denied his shot stopping ability hasn’t declined with age.
RB – Andy Lyons (Bohemians)
Many will have Joey O’Brian or even Ronan Finn in this spot.
For me, the best right back in the league this season could be found with their Dublin rivals.
Lyons is another cracking young enough prospect, in a Bohs squad full of young prospects.
Most importantly, Lyons has seemingly filled the big boots of the retired Derek Pender. If he chooses to do so, he could fill the right back position at Dalymount Park for many years to come.
He has been ever present in that Bohemians team this season. Lyons has shown himself as an excellent modern full back.
The 20-year-old has proved himself to be full of running going forward. Along with having the wits to out fox any wide player in a one-on-one situation.
CB – Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers)
This man is ever improving and developing into a real leader on the pitch.
Gone are the mistakes and rash decision making from his game. We are now looking at the best version of Pico, especially as he comes into the prime of his career.
In this season with no crowds, we really got the hear the influence and commanding voice he has on the pitch.
He is the complete package of a centre back. His mix of physical attributes and personality traits must make him the first name on manager Stephen Bradley’s team sheet every week.
Rovers are blessed with a deep talent pool, but it isn’t a stretch to say they look an all-round better team with Roberto Lopes in it.
CB – Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers)
The guidance of Lopes can only help his younger counterpart, who really has come into his own this season.
When Scales arrived from UCD many were worried the young man would fall into obscurity in this talented Rovers squad.
This season has been the coming out party of Liam Scales, surely, he will be in the managers plans as a regular next season.
I know, he has played a good chunk of games as a left back. However, I feel he has done his best work when playing in a Rovers back three.
Scales has come along leaps and bounds with his defensive duties. While looking as confident as ever with the ball at his feet.
He did play some games with Shamrock Rovers II in the First Division earlier in the season. There is no denying that this lad belongs in the top tier of Irish domestic football.
LB – Tyreke Wilson (Waterford)
Another reason why I pushed Scales in as a centre back, was to include this man.
There was a lot of hype when Tyreke Wilson arrived at Waterford from Manchester City, where he was part of the under 23s squad.
Wilson lived up to that hype, possibly even surpassing it.
I watched him on the opening day against St. Pats in Richmond Park, back in February. It was clear, he was going to be one of the league’s top full backs this season.
Always dangerous going forward and nifty with a dead ball at his feet. Wilson stood out as the best player at Waterford for me this season.
Once again, Waterford seem to find themselves going through turbulent time behind the scenes.
Wilson just signed for Bohemian. Really with his performances this season, he could easily make a jump back across the water.
CDM – Chris Shields (Dundalk)
Another one that might not be in everyone’s team.
I will say at the start of the season, consistency seemed to be a bit of an issue for Shields. While this was very out of character, that spell didn’t last long, and he has been a rock ever since.
Ever dependable, Shields was one of the standout performers at Dundalk, during this rollercoaster of a season.
Even during the height of their powers, Dundalk always look a worse side when Chris Shields isn’t involved. He proved to be a key figure once again this season, even lifting the FAI Cup for his efforts.
CM – Aaron McEneff (Shamrock Rovers)
Another standout player in a Shamrock Rovers side full of them.
Ever since arriving at Rovers from Derry, McEneff has proved his worth as an important clog in their system.
Seemingly always involved in any good forward play by Rovers this season, it’s his defensive duties that somewhat go under the radar.
McEneff can always be relied on to drop deep and try win the ball back in dangerous areas.
The best thing you can say about Aaron McEneff is this. Rovers have strength in depth all over the park, mainly in their midfield. He continues to hold on to his place, despite opposition from the likes of Dylan Watts, who can’t get a consistent run in the team.
Even now, we are hearing rumours of Danny Mandroiu coming in from Bohemians. It would be hard to see him slotting into the team automatically if the likes of McEneff and our next entry are at the club next season.
CM – Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers)
Really running out of words to praise this man at this stage.
We know how good he is, he has been a pleasure to watch in the league since day one.
He was moved into a more attacking role this season. A move that has helped bring out the best in Jack Byrne, as he was central to everything Shamrock Rovers seemed to do.
His passing, dribbling ability and reading of the game make him the best player in the league if we are talking about skill sets.
Jack has also proved he has an eye for goal. Scoring nine goals this season, making him Rovers top goal scorer.
Speculation is running wild that he will leave Shamrock Rovers in the off season.
That would be sad for the league, losing one of its best players in a long time. However, it is clear to see Byrne could easily make a step up in competition, after dominating the league since his arrival ahead of the 2019 season.
RW – Andre Wright (Bohemians)
Earning the title as the leagues most improved player may not be the best compliment to give a player, but it is one that rings true for Wright.
This season we have seen the best version of Andre Wright to date. He has really improved his physicality. Making his mix of strength and blistering speed a nightmare prospect for any defenders.
Wright has already had several clubs. By all accounts, he has really found a home for himself at Bohs. With manager Keith Long bringing the best out of him.
Wright finished the season with seven goals to his name, the joint highest at the club.
Players like Andre Wright make Bohemians seem like genuine title challengers going forward into next season.
ST – Pat Hoban (Dundalk)
Aaron Greene was a close shout for this position.
However, he still fails to fill me up with confidence as the man that Shamrock Rovers can rely on as a 10/15 goals a season type of player.
The same can’t be said about Pat Hoban.
It may not have been his most prolific season and he has performed better during other campaigns.
Saying that, he still finished as the league’s top scorer. Earning him his place in any Team of the Season.
Hoban scored ten goals during the shortened season, acting as a familiar and consistent figure during a strange run for Dundalk.
Having the likes of Greene here is a good argument. Personally, I can’t look past the reliable Pat Hoban. Finishing up as the Premier Division’s leading scorer for the third time in his career.
LW – Danny Grant (Bohemians)
I look forward to getting comments on my very Dublin orientated team.
Really, I feel we can’t have many arguments about some of the inclusions on here. Even for this position, Graham Burke is the only one that could get the nod.
Instead, I went for another young Bohs player, Danny Grant.
Grant also finished up with seven goals this season, equalling his teammate Andre Wright as the club’s top goal scorer.
Danny has emerged as one of the brightest talents in the league. He has rightfully earned plenty of plaudits off the back of his performances.
For example, in the FAI Cup quarter final against Dundalk, he really impressed many. Despite losing the game, Grant ran rings around the experienced Sean Gannon. Coming out as the only real highlight from a poor Bohs side on the night.
A player that will only improve with age and the most exciting young player at Bohemians and that’s saying something.
Player of the Season – Roberto Lopes (Shamrock Rovers)
Manager of the Season – Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers)
Young Player of the Season – Danny Grant (Bohemians)