September in the League of Ireland Premier Divison saw leaders Cork City come within minutes of finally landing the league title, before a late Dundalk equaliser at Turner’s Cross kept the champagne on ice.
John Caulfield’s side are now just two points away from securing the trophy, a task that will be taken out of their hands should the reigning champions fail to win even one of their last four matches.
Last month also saw the first team relegated as Drogheda United, whose drop has been inevitable for some time now, were finally put out of their misery with a 2-1 defeat to Derry City last weekend.
But who stood out on the penultimate month of Premier Division action? Here’s who we picked as the standout players:
Lukasz Skowron (St. Patrick’s Athletic). Coming into a relegation-threatened team in a new league and country, replacing a keeper like Conor O’Malley who had almost singled-handedly earned Pat’s so many points, it was always going to be a tall order to replace him. He was given a baptism of fire in the 6-0 hammering against Dundalk, but was unlucky ot be on the losing side against Bohs and was fantastic in the 2-0 win versus Shamrock Rovers.
Colm Horgan (Galway United). Many wondered how Galway United would cope with the loss of Lee Grace midway through the season, particularly as so much of their strength this year came from having a solid defence. Thanks in part to their captain, they need not have worried. Horgan has belied his 23 years to organise the defence and help ensure that Shane Keegan’s side have given themselves the best possible chance of survival.
Conor Kenna (Bray Wanderers). A second consecutive appearance in this lineup for the Bray Wnderers veteran, and a testament to their newfound defensive stability. The madcap 5-3 scorelines have been replaced with a more conservative, grinding approach (save for the 5-0 win at Derry City that came from nowhere), and Kenna’s influence at the back has been vital as the Seagulls cling to their European dream.
Lee Grace (Shamrock Rovers). The summer from Galway United has slotted into the Hoops’ backline seamlessly, turning in a number of stellar performances as Stephen Bradley’s side close in on two cup finals and (potentially) third place in the Premier Division.
Rory Hale (Galway United). Shane Keegan’s side deserve plaudits as a whole unit for their fine form in the last couple of months, but the signing of Hale has turned out to be a fine bit of business. Still only 20, the former Aston Villa man already looks extremely comfortable on the ball and a whirlwind few weeks saw him earn an Ireland u21 call-up and Player of the Month nomination.
Conor McCormack (Cork City). While City’s striking department looks a little light, their midfield is still the envy of pretty much all of the league. A major part of that is McCormack, whose season scaled new heights with a commanding performance against Dundalk, playing a huge part in the draw that pretty much ended what was left of the title race.
Bastien Héry (Limerick). The former PSG academy midfielder continues impress in the Limerick midfield, and has been a big part in their recent revival. Héry”s displays in the wins against Galway United were particular highlights.
Keith Ward (Bohemians). Ward’s partnership with striker Dinny Corcoran borders on telepathic at times, but the creative playmaker got himself among the goals last month with a stunning hat-trick against Drogheda United. Could play a big role in the club’s late push for Europe.
Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers). The 23-year-old was always capable of fantastic performances, but he really upped his game in September. A fine strike against Cork City to kick the month off and a hat-trick in the FAI Cup against Bluebell set the tone for what was to follow, with disappointment in the EA Sports Cup final defeat to Dundalk the only major negative.
Dinny Corcoran (Bohemians). While Ward may have made more headlines with that hat-trick against Drogheda United, Corcoran quietly went about his business and Bohs’ remain in the top four hunt as a result. The fourth goal in that aforementioned rout, followed by two more against St. Pat’s the following week to take his tally to 15 for the season, have solidified his status as one of the best strikers in the country.
David McMillan (Dundalk). Corcoran’s main rival for that ‘top striker’ spot since Sean Maguire’s departure, McMillan has played a huge role in Dundalk’s pursuit of cup glory (as well as pushing Cork City as hard as possible for the league title). Five more goals this month for the 28-year-old (including the opener in the EA Sports Cup final), and while time is running out to overhaul Maguire’s 20 for this season, he’s going to be right behind the former Cork City man.
In the latest episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast we hear from Galway United’s Padraic Cunningham on the relegation battle, as well as Dinny Corcoran of Bohemians and Derry City’s Nathan Boyle on the race for Europe.
Read More About: bastien hery, bohemains, Brandon Miele, colm horgan, conor kenna, conor mccormack, cork city, david mcmillan, dinny corcoran, Dundalk, lee grace, LOI Premier Division, loi premier divison, lukasz skowron, rory hale, Shamrock Rovers, st patricks athletic