April saw Cork City take and even firmer grip on the League of Ireland Premier Division table, with John Caulfield’s side now sitting twelve points clear of Dundalk and Bray Wanderers.
City’s 2-1 win against Bray last weekend made if four wins from four for the Leesiders, in what was another month full of strong individual performances from a multitude of players. Bray continue to exceed expectations, Limerick also find themselves in a top four spot, while at the other end Galway United, despite still being at the bottom of the table, have become a very difficult side to beat.
With that in mind, picking a team of the month for April was a difficult challenge, one that meant that several players, who would have made the cut in most months, miss the cut.
Mark McNulty (Cork City)
Cork City’s surge clear at the top of the Premier Division has as much to do with their watertight defence as it does their blistering attack. Goalkeeper Mark McNulty kept three clean sheets in four matches in April, and but for a last-minute goal from Bray Wanderers, it would have been a clean sweep.
Lee Grace (Galway United)
Despite the fact that Galway find themselves rooted to the bottom of the league, they have managed to make themselves really hard to beat. Their resolve meant that they lost just once in April (as well as beating Dundalk), conceding four goals in that time. Grace and Stephen Folan have been impressive in the backline, but the pre-season signing from Wexford just shades it.
Robbie Williams (Limerick)
April was a time of upheaval for Limerick with the departure of manager Martin Russell, but results on the pitch under interim boss Willie Boland have been impressive. Last season’s First Division champions shot to a top four place in April, and 32-year-old Williams has been a vital part of a defence that conceded just three goals in five games.
Ryan Delaney (Cork City)
As with McNulty (and, indeed, Alan Bennett and the rest of the Cork City defence), Ryan Delaney had a deeply impressive April. The 20-year-old has shown composure and defensive capability far beyond his years. With Burton Albion now safe in the Championship, manager Nigel Clough may allow Delaney to stay at Turner’s Cross for the whole season – and that could be pivotal to City’s title hopes.
Gary McCabe (Bray Wanderers)
Gary McCabe shot to the top of the Premier Divison goalscoring charts in April, scoring five goals (including two each against Dundalk and former club Shamrock Rovers) and continues to be a vital component in Bray’s European challenge. The 28-year-old has formed a deadly unit with Dylan Connolly and Aaron Greene in Harry Kenny’s attack.
Conor McCormack (Cork City)
McCormack has quietly been making the case for signing of the season in the City midfield, turning in a number of brilliant displays for the Leesiders. His energy, work-rate and tenacity have been constants in his performances for City so far, and his consistency has meant that Greg Bolger has struggled to win his place back in the team since returning from injury.
Garry Buckley (Cork City)
Goals have been flowing from Cork City’s forward line, but their midfield has been prolific also. Garry Buckley scored in each of his three appearances for John Caulfield’s side, as well as maintaining his strong partnership with Gearoid Morrissey in the City centre.
Michael Duffy (Dundalk)
April was a difficult month for Dundalk as they suffered two defeats and lost more ground on league leaders Cork City, but new signing Duffy continues to impress. The 22-year-old has taken the Daryl Horgan comparisons in his stride, and although he had just one goal in this month to show for his efforts, his overall displays have been woth merit.
Karl Sheppard (Cork City)
Karl Sheppard has become a firm fixture in John Caulfield’s forward line, forming a devastating partnership with Sean Maguire in Cork City’s attack. The former Shamrock Rovers striker has fully immersed himself in a wider role at Turner’s Cross, and his three goals in April have been the cherry on top of some top class performance.
Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers)
Gary McCabe has tended to dominate the headlines for Bray this season due to his goalscoring exploits, but Dylan Connolly (and, indeed, Aaron Greene) deserve their fair share of the acclaim. The 22-year-old has meshed brilliantly with the new signings this season and has taken his own game up a notch in Wanderers’ battle for Europe.
David McMillan (Dundalk)
The Dundalk frontman missed the start of the season, and has been showing his club what they were missing since his return. The 28-year-old scored four goals in as many games for Stephen Kenny’s side and despite the travails of the team as a whole, McMillan has been soing his level best to turn that around.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football podcast, we catch up with Cillian Sheridan, review all the latest fixtures and look ahead to this week’s League of Ireland matches.
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