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The Big Green Ladder: Browne & Murphy Shine As League Football Begins

The first in Pundit Arena’s season-long weekly look at how the Irish contingent are faring in the English leagues.

With the Premier League still a few days away it was a chance for Championship and League One members (and future members) of the Boys In Green to shine.

Let’s take a look at who is positioned where in the first instalment of Pundit Arena’s Big Green Ladder:


1) Alan Browne (Preston)

Sure to be one of Preston North End’s most important players this season, Browne grabbed the only goal of the game as his side saw off QPR to kick off their campaign with a win.

Browne’s excellent header in the second half proved to be the matchwinner with the 26-year old putting in an impressive all-round display as he dealt with everything QPR had to offer as well as proving a threat going forward.

He even found himself playing centre-half towards the end of the game. Will be one to watch out for over the season as Preston look to push on to promotion contention.


2) Daryl Murphy (Nottingham Forest)

Aitor Karanka’s Forest spent big over the Summer as they looked to emulate Wolves’ success of last season, welcoming a number of high profile Portuguese signings to the City ground.

Forest, however, had an old favourite to thank for their equaliser against Bristol City on Saturday. Daryl Murphy started and scored as Karanka’s men began the season with a point.

Murphy took his goal very well and arguably could’ve had a second as Forest searched for the winner. The big striker put in an excellent shift and if his side have as good a season as many expect them to, then the 33-year old will be a crucial part of that

3) Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn)

Recently capped Darragh Lenihan made an impressive return to the Championship despite his Blackburn side failing to pick up all three points against Ipswich.

Lenihan was by far the best player on the Portman Road pitch doing well to contain the lively Elis Harrison up top for Ipswich. The young defender made a host of important interceptions throughout the game and arguably saved them a point with a fantastic block to deny Edwards late on.

Could see himself continue to rise up the rankings as the season progresses.


4) Aiden O’Brien (Millwall)

A strong start to the season for Millwall winger Aiden O’Brien as he looks to become a part of Martin O’Neill’s first team plans for the upcoming campaign.

Prolific at League One level but struggled to find the net at a higher grade last season, O’Brien opened the scoring for Millwall and was lively throughout before he was substituted in the London side’s impressive 2-2 draw with Championship contenders Middlesbrough on Saturday.

With Sean Maguire out for two months and the likes of Shane Long and Scott Hogan out of favour, O’Brien will certainly be an attacking option to watch should he continue to find the net.


5) Derrick Williams (Blackburn)

Another Blackburn Rovers man returning to the championship Derrick Williams proved a massive attacking threat as his side picked up a point against Ipswich at Portman Road.

Williams had a hand in both of Rovers’ goals including an excellent cross from the left which was finished off by midfielder Bradley Dack in the 29th minute of the game.

The 25-year old did, however, struggle at times defensively up against a striker in Harrison who will likely be one of the league’s best as the season progresses but going forward Williams has shown he is very important to Rovers as an attacking asset.


6) Paudie O’Connor (Blackpool)

The first inclusion from League One, 21-year-old Irish defender Paudie O’Connor made his Blackpool debut in their 0-0 draw with Wycombe Wanderers over the weekend.

Calm in possession and with a number of championship games under his belt via his parent club Leeds United last season, O’Connor looked confident at the heart of a Blackpool defence that Wycombe Wanderers simply could not penetrate.

O’Connor is still young and will need to gain a lot more experience in league football before being considered for an international call-up, but the Limerick native is certainly doing everything right so far.


7) Paul McShane (Reading)

Rather unfortunate to see his Reading side come away from their opening game of the season against Derby County with nothing, it was still fantastic to see McShane back captaining The Royals after an injury-stricken last campaign.

In the first half especially Reading did well defensively to thwart what will likely be a strong Derby side this season, with McShane proving his worth up against the always lively and very experienced David Nugent up top for the Rams.

32 years of age now and with the likes of Lenihan and Egan already giving Duffy and Clark competition at the back for Ireland it’s unlikely that McShane will ever force his way back into the side. Still though, a solid first week for the former Manchester United man.


8) James McClean (Stoke City)

It almost took Stoke the whole summer but they finally got their man when James McClean made the switch from fellow relegation sufferers West Brom.

A losing start for McClean’s Stoke who were truly outclassed by a Leeds side who look like they mean business. The Derryman though, was one of The Potters better players, flying into tackles and seeing a lot of the ball as he looked to force his team back into the game.

McClean’s typically strong work rate was in full effect at Elland Road but it was far from the dream debut he would’ve hoped for. The Championship, however, suits McClean’s game much better and his Stoke side should still be up there come the end of the season.


9) John Egan (Sheffield United)

Not the start results-wise John Egan would have hoped for at Sheffield United, but the former Brentford man acquitted himself well as he looks to grow into the defensive leader that the Bramall Lane club hopes he can be.

Egan looked comfortable at the back but will be disappointed with the two goals his side conceded as they suffered what many thought to be a surprise defeat to Swansea in their opening game of the season.

Sheffield United will still likely be one of the teams to watch this campaign and Egan will no doubt have a big part to play in any success The Blades might have.


10) Ryan Manning (QPR)

The young QPR midfielder didn’t manage a start in his side’s 1-0 opening day defeat to Preston on Saturday but did his chances of a first-team berth over the coming weeks the world of good following his performance from the bench.

Manning came on in the second period to shore things up on the flank where Preston were getting far too much joy in the first half.

The 22-year-old did his job well and showed a few nice touches despite his side’s opening day defeat. Irish fans will be hoping that Manning can get a run in the first team this season.


Author: 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

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