As you may or may not know, recently our TBKO Premier Division Team of the Season went up on our website and social media platforms.
So, today we will be doing the same with the First Division.
This can be somewhat of a harder task. Particularly this season with zero First Division coverage on WatchLOI.
With opinion and some good old-fashioned research, I think I can save face and assemble a team of the best talent in the First Division.
As always, let us know who you would pick in the comment section below. Keep an eye on The Big Kick Off during the League of Ireland off season. The content will never stop, and we are even looking to expand our coverage of this league we all love.
Here we go.
Formation – 4-3-3
GK – Brian Mahar (Bray Wanderers)
Like the Premier Division team, the goalkeeper position was a bit of a tossup.
Drogheda’s keeper David Odumosa could have easily slipped in here.
I just felt it’s hard to look past the goalkeeper with the best record this season.
This was a real breakout season for Brian Mahar. He left St. Patricks Athletic at the start of the season in search of first team football.
He quickly found it at Bray following a loan spell with the Wicklow side.
Mahar managed to keep 10 clean sheets this season.
He isn’t the biggest goalkeeper in stature and is still extremely young for a goalkeeper, clocking in at the age of 20.
However, none of this was a factor at all this season. Mahar proved himself to be a commanding and vocal presence between the sticks for Bray.
Really off the back of his performances this season, Pats must be kicking themselves that they let this young man leave the club. Admittedly, as a Pats fan myself, I would love to see him return and claim that vacant number one jersey for next season.
RB – James Brown (Drogheda United)
Easy one this, the lad was the best right back in the league this season.
A constant figure in the Drogheda side this season, he was involved in all 18 of their league games.
James really is your typical modern full back. He’s eager to get forward and overlap the wingers, but he never forgets his defence duties.
Strong in a tackle and very aggressive, no winger is ever in for an easy shift when they have Brown on their back.
Someone I’m very exciting to see play in the Premier Division next season. Going off his performances this season, he could be on course to becoming one of the better full backs in Irish domestic football.
CB – Hugh Douglas (Drogheda United)
It’s excellent to see Douglas back at the peak of his powers.
He came back from a horrific leg injury, with some even speculating that his career may be done.
Loyal to the bone, Hugh hung on at Bray Wanderers during some very troubling times, when many others wouldn’t.
His move to Drogheda before the start of the season was the fresh start he truly needed.
Douglas is quite versatile and can play anywhere across the back, but he has really made that centre back position at Drogs his own quickly enough.
Once he settled, Douglas really showed the true defender we all know he is. Constantly winning headers, hassling strikers and winning tackles in key areas. Hugh proved himself to be a real leader for Drogheda.
Still only 27-years-old, Douglas is only coming into the real prime of his career.
CB – Charlie Lyons (Cobh Ramblers)
This is probably the one pick that will raise the most eyebrows.
While we do like to throw in the odd curveball, this isn’t a selection just for the sake of being different.
Charlie Lyons was the real standout player for me personally anytime I got the chance to see Cobh play this season.
We have been blessed with young talent in both divisions this season. Charlie is another to really keep an eye on.
He only missed one league game this season and played the full 90 in all bar one of his appearances.
Another player that can do a job in a couple of positions, Lyons looked unbelievably comfortable as a centre back this season.
Credit to the lad he also knows where the goal is. He bagged himself four goals in the league, not bad for a defender in a shortened season.
LB – Conor Kane (Drogheda United)
Another one that seems to be consistent when people are picking their First Division Team of the Season.
Like his teammate Brown, Conor Kane is the only real option you could go with.
Kane is another player that made 18 appearances for Drogheda United, turning out to be a key figure during a highly successful season.
His blistering pace makes him a real danger for anybody, once he gets going on a run, he’s impossible to stop.
This player is set to rip up the Premier Division. Drogheda fans will be delighted that they kept a hold of him going forward.
CM – Aodh Dervin (Longford Town)
Honestly, Dervin was one of my First Division players of the season.
The fact he didn’t get officially nominated for anything is mental. Forget the Weekend at the Grammys, this is the real award-based injustice we should be going off on.
It took him a couple of games to shine through, but when he did it was a pleasure to watch.
His big moment came in the play-off semi-final. Scoring against Galway United to help his side advance into the final against Shelbourne.
Dervin is such a wise player beyond his years. Highly focused on the work horse aspect of the game. He is defensive very sound and will pop up all over the midfield to win the ball back or intercept a pass.
His comfortable nature on the ball and dribbling ability really makes him a top midfielder.
At the time of writing, he does find himself on the PFAI transfer list. Really, Longford should be doing their best to get him on board for their return to the Premier Division.
CM – Liam Kerrigan (UCD)
Kerrigan has been a real influence in that UCD midfield since arriving from Sligo Rovers during the 2019 season.
As Liam matures into his 20’s, his game seems to be maturing too.
Very confident on the ball and a good eye for a pass. Kerrigan has been an important figure in that talented UCD side this season.
He has played in all 18 league games and even netted himself five goals in the process.
Always reliable, his creative spark was key to UCD becoming the free scoring side they were during the season.
The First Division next season is already shaping up to be a tight battle. With the likes of Liam Kerrigan in their ranks, UCD will fancy themselves to push for the play-offs once again.
CM – Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers II)
Yes, he did predominantly play out on the left-hand side, but I really wanted to include him. Also, I wasn’t willing to take anyone else out that’s coming up. So, here he is.
Say what you will about Shamrock Rovers II and many of you have, in very angry block capitals. They have provided the league with some good young talented players to enjoy.
For me, Brandon Kavanagh was the cream of the crop.
He grew into an essential player for his side.
Very skilful and willing to run at defenders, he is everything a manager wants in a young forward minded player.
Having him away from the first team this season has really helped his development. He played 16 times and looked more confident with every passing appearance.
Brandon scored nine goals, which is some return. This season he really proved that maybe he is ready to jump up to the Shamrock Rovers first team and start making waves with them.
RW – Yoyo Mahdy (UCD)
Oh look, another player slightly out of position. While he does play more central for UCD, I just had to slot him in somewhere.
Saying that, he can be commonly found drifting out wide to pick up the ball. This doesn’t hinder his goal tally at all.
Mahdy finished up as the First Division top scorer this season. He scored a cracking 15 goals during the campaign and one in the play-offs.
Really, you must include any top scorer when talking about a Team of the Season.
His performances have made him hot property for sides up in the Premier Division.
The likes of Bohemians seem to be keen on bringing in the 22-year-old and we can’t blame them.
ST – Colm Whelan (UCD)
Keeping with UCD, we move on to Yoyo Mahdy’s strike partner Colm Whelan.
The pair linked up wonderfully well all season.
Whelan finished up just behind his teammate in the goal scoring rankings, ending his league campaign with 14 goals to his name.
UCD could hardly believe their luck with two strikers scoring on such a consistent basis during an 18-game season.
The partnership worked out a treat. Whelan was more of an out and out striker, while Mahdy had somewhat more of a free roam role.
Whelan is probably the more likely to stay at the club next season. With a proven record from this season, they should make it a real priority.
LW – Mark Doyle (Drogheda United)
We round out our front three with another player with a good goal tally this season.
Doyle finished up with 13 goals and looked outstanding in every appearance.
He can play out on the left-hand side or as a more central striker. Either way he proved to be a nuisance for any defenders he came up against.
Mark is a great crosser of the ball, dribbler, and finisher.
Drogheda have managed to sign him up for their Premier Division return next season. Something that they really needed to do, he’s vital.
Player of the Season – Yoyo Mahdy (UCD)
Manager of the Season – Daire Doyle (Longford Town)
Young Player of the Season – Aodh Dervin (Longford Town)