Home Football Irish Interest Aplenty As Focus Turns To Football League Playoffs

Irish Interest Aplenty As Focus Turns To Football League Playoffs

Last weekend represented the final day of the season across the English Football League with the Championship, League One and League Two all wrapping up their 46 game campaigns.

In the Championship, Daniel Farke’s N0rwich were confirmed as champions as they beat Aston Villa and will return to the Premier League alongside a Sheffield United side containing a host of Irish internationals.

A division below in League One, James Collins’ goals helped Luton Town secure a return back to the second tier as champions with Barnsley joining them, while in League Two, Lincoln City, Bury and MK Dons all achieved promotion from the bottom division.

There is, however, still the small matter of the playoffs across all three divisions with Irish interest aplenty in each tier.

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Championship 

Leeds United, Aston Villa, West Brom, Derby County.

One of the most competitive Championship playoff campaigns in many years, the four-team lottery in the second tier is set to be a mouth-watering affair.

Aston Villa are many people’s favourites for promotion with 35-year old Glenn Whelan a key component in their outstanding second half of the season.

Conor Hourihane’s seven goals and 11 assists from midfield have also been a massive boost and both could be vital in their two-legged clash with West Brom.

The Baggies only have veteran Wes Hoolahan in terms of an Irish interest while Derby County’s Richard Keogh will be hoping he can exorcise the demons of the 2014 final defeat to QPR and lead his side to playoff glory.

Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa will, as always, be must-see but potential Irish recruit Patrick Bamford will miss their first leg against Derby through suspension.

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League One

Charlton, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Doncaster

Four massive clubs make up the League One playoffs this season, with all four hoping to get back on track with a return to the second tier.

Charlton Athletic’s West Ham loanee Josh Cullen has been instrumental in their sensational season under Lee Bowyer as they snuck into third on the final day of the season.

They will face Doncaster Rovers in the semi-finals after Kieran Sadlier’s goal helped them to defeat Coventry and grab the final playoff spot. Goalkeeper Ian Lawlor will not feature as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury.

Portsmouth have Irish international Ronan Curtis to thank for their promotion push this season as the former Derry City man notched up 11 goals and 12 assists in his first season in English football.

Aiden McGeady will likely be a key man for Pompey’s opponents Sunderland after his outstanding campaign which saw him make the League One Team of the Year.

Defender Jimmy Dunne will also be involved for Sunderland as the Black Cats eye an immediate return to the Championship.

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League Two

Mansfield, Forest Green, Tranmere, Newport County

Mansfield’s defeat to MK Dons meant that they had to settle for the playoffs. Goalkeeper Conrad Logan will likely be their number one heading into the four-team lottery.

They also have 22-year old defender Ryan Sweeney who has been one of their best players this season since his arrival from Stoke City in the summer.

Mansfield will face Newport County in the semi-finals, a side Irish fans are more than familiar with thanks to the FA Cup heroics of Padraig Amond.

The striker has 14 goals and 10 assists this season and has been sensational in turning Newport’s fortunes around.

Newport also have defender Mark O’Brien who will likely feature for the Exiles.

Tranmere vs Forest Green will contain only one Irish player, defender Gavin Gunning who has been a mainstay in the Forst Green defence this season.

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About Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com