Rather than simply pick our own League of Ireland Premier Division Team of the Season, we put the decision in your hands via a series of Twitter polls.
A 43-strong pool of nominees was whittled down to 11 over the course of the past week or so and. as expected, double winners Cork City and EA Sports Cup champions Dundalk make up the bulk of the list.
John Caulfield’s side have no fewer than five players in the lineup (with Caulfield himself chosen as Manager of the Year), with the runners-up taking up four spots in the collective.
The final two places up for grabs, after enjoying fine seasons in 2017, went to Shamrock Rovers’ versatile defender/midfielder Trevor Clarke, and Galway United forward Ronan Murray.
Mark McNulty (Cork City). The 37-year-old continued to show this year why is one of the best goalkeepers in the league this year, keeping 16 clean sheets and playing an important role behind the defence in City’s double win.
Sean Gannon (Dundalk). Arguably the most solid and reliable and right backs in the league, Gannon’s worth to Dundalk is such that the club deemed him worthy of a new three-year contract at the end of the season just gone.
Alan Bennett (Cork City). The 36-year-old is another member of the Cork City rearguard proving that age is just a number, with a number of commanding displays throughout the campaign.
Niclas Vemmelund (Dundalk). Once he fully settled into the team, Vemmelund produced a string of fine displays at the heart of the Dundalk defence. His performances against Ronsenborg in the Champions League were particularly impressive.
Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers). Clarke showed off his tremendous versatility over the course of the year, popping up everywhere from left-back to the right wing. Another big season awaits for the Hoops youngster with bags of potential.
Conor McCormack (Cork City). McCormack was something of a machine in midfield for Cork City this season – the tenacious, protective shield for the defence. His versatility meant that he was sometimes needed in defence, but it was in the centre that the former Derry City man truly excelled.
Robbie Benson (Dundalk). After a relatively timid beginning to the campaign (an affliction most of that Dundalk side suffered from), Benson found his feet in the summer and grew into a serious goalscoring threat in the centre. He finished the season with 11 goals in all competitions – a strong return from midfield.
Patrick McEleney (Dundalk). Dundalk’s playmaker had a claim to the mantle of the league’s best player once Sean Maguire departed, McEleney was a technical driving force in the Lilywhites’ midfield – as well as having a penchant for scoring some ridiculously good goals.
Karl Sheppard (Cork City). Despite suffering a bit in the latter stages as he missed the rapport he had built up in with Maguire, Sheppard was nonetheless sensational for large parts of the season. A constant goalscoring threat from out wide in the City attack, he would have been a big loss had he moved on at the end of the season.
Ronan Murray (Galway United). Maintaining scoring form in a team battling relegation is never an easy task, yet Murray was prolific throughout the entire campaign. With the Tribesmen leaking goals at inopportune times, he had a big hand in bringing their battle for survival to the final day.
Sean Maguire (Cork City). What more can be said about Maguire this season? This as the year that the striker had scored 20 goals by July, outgrew the league, took to the English Championship like a duck to water, and became an Irish international. Few can claim to have had as big an influence as Maguire in City’s league title win.
Manager: John Caulfield (Cork City). Four years worth of the agony of near misses, squad building, perseverance, having to watch Dundalk hoover up title after title, Caulfield finally received his just desserts this year by landing the league and cup double. In a year where the likes of Kenny Shiels and Keith Long deserve their own share of kudos, the Cork City manager fully deserves to be crowned Manager of the Year.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast, we discuss your Team of the Season selections, and chat with Ireland under-21 international defender Ryan Delaney on his double-winning season with Cork City.
Read More About: alan bennett, cork city, Dundalk, galway united, john caulfield, karl sheppard, LOI Premier Division, loi premier divison, mark mcnulty, Niclas Vemmelund, patrick mceleney, robbie benson, ronan murray, ryan delaney, sean gannon, sean maguire, Shamrock Rovers, Top Story, trevor clarke