With Huddersfield crowned Championship playoff champions for 2017, the promotion race is complete. Like every year, the Irish interest was strong in the promotion campaign and we examine the players at Martin O’Neill’s disposal who can now call themselves Premier League players.
It is great to see a Premier League newcomer in Huddersfield town but it bodes a little badly from an Irish perspective. Reading have three Irish players on their first team books with Paul McShane, Stephen Quinn and the extremely exciting Liam Kelly. Niall Keown, Sean Long and Josh Barrett are also in the youth ranks.
Kelly has been one of the best young players in the championship this season and there is no doubt his time at the top will come. However, it is disappointing for Irish fans that established players like McShane and Quinn will not be returning to the Premier League.
On the positive side, One Irishman will become a Premier League player for the first time. Sean Scannell has been at the Terriers since 2012 and received his first Irish call up aged 18 while at Crystal Palace. Scannell was inured for a large portion of the season and has struggled to re-establish himself. It is unclear if he will feature for the club next season but he would represent an exciting, pacey and robust player. Still eligible for Northern Ireland and England, Scannell will hope to prove himself over pre-season.
Former Ireland keeper Joe Murphy is also part of the set up at Huddersfield but is due to be released this summer. Youngsters Tadhg Ryan, a goalkeeper and Danny Kane who has played for Noel King’s under 21s are also in the development side. With a bit of luck, the duo could see first-team action next season.
Thankfully a number of other Irish players gained promotion. Reading’s failure will hurt but it will be good to see some Irishmen either return or deputise in England top flight come August.
The Magpies have three Irishmen on their books with first choice centre-back Ciaran Clark a regular for Rafa Benitez’s team before a season-ending injury. Daryl Murphy joined in August following a prolific few season at Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town. Despite struggling for game time in the early embers of the season, he went on to score 5 goals in 14 appearances. Murphy is a regular in Martin O’Neill’s squad and the Derryman will be delighted to see another striker in the top flight.
Rob Elliot, injured last year on international duty ended the season as Benitez’s number one and will hope to start the Premier League season as he ended it. The trio will compensate for the relegation of Hull and Sunderland, where David Meyler, Brian Lenihan, John O’Shea and Darron Gibson all suffered a drop in leagues.
Brighton and Hove Albion
One of the star men of Brighton’s promotion campaign was an Irishman, but not a player. Chris Hughton has changed the fortunes of the club once threatened by relegation to League 1 and will add to his Premier League experience with Norwich and Newcastle.
Like Clark, Shane Duffy has established himself as Ireland’s number one centre-half and now finds himself in the Premier League for the second time. The former Everton youth will hope to catch the eye in what is a special time for the Seagulls.
Dubliner Ritchie Towell again saw limited game time and may have to bide his time for Premier League football. Towell could leave on loan but is still highly regarded by Hughton.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena