October saw the League of Ireland Premier Division draw to a close for another year, but not before a bit of late drama.
None of that drama came at the top, however, as Cork City did the necessary to claim their first top division league title since 2005, while Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City secured the remaining European spots. At the bottom, meanwhile, the battle for survival went right to the wire before Finn Harps and Galway United ultimately joined Drogheda United in the 2018 first division lineup.
But who stood out this month to give their team that final push to meet their objectives?
Shane Supple (Bohemians). Supple has established himself as one of the finest goalkeepers n the country, and finished the campaign in fine form. The former Ipswich Town man kept two clean sheets in October – against Cork City and Dundalk – and Bohs fans will be ecstatic that he has signed on again for next season.
Rob Cornwall (Bohemians). The 23-year-old turned in some fine performances over the course of the season, and was another important element in the 0-0 draw against Cork City at Dalymount before the highly impressive 1-0 win at Oriel Park. Like Supple, Cornwall has already signed a new deal for next season.
Kyle Callan-McFadden (Sligo Rovers). Keeping with the theme of selecting players that have committed their futures to their current club for 2018, Callan-McFadden has been fundamental to Gerard Lyttle’s plan to make Sligo hard to beat. The Bit o’ Red kept three clean sheets out of four in October, with the 22-year-old playing in two of those shutouts.
Alan Bennett (Cork City). The 36-year-old veteran gave the level of performance this month that showed exactly why he is a Turner’s Cross legend. City kept three clean sheets in their final four matches of the league season (the only one they didn’t was the 4-2 loss at St. Pat’s and Bennett was an unused substitute in that) – even if the champions-elect were finding goals hard to come by, their mountain at the back made sure that nothing would be getting past him either.
Killian Brennan (St. Patrick’s Athletic). Adding the experience of Brennan turned out to be a masterstroke from St. Pat’s manager Liam Buckley, as the 33-year-old returned to Inchicore nearly two years after departing. Providing the level head that the side desperately needed, Brennan even had the final say on Pats’ survival as his strike at Derry City set them on the way to getting the point they needed to stay up.
Kieran Sadlier (Cork City). Sadlier finished the season for Cork City in such a way that suggests he’s going to take the the league by storm next year, confusing defenders at will with his trickery.. The 23-year-old scored a goal of the season contender against St. Pat’s in the penultimate game of the season, and the confidence in his play made him the perfect candidate to take the winning penalty in this year’s FAI Cup final.
Jamie McGrath (Dundalk). A pre-season signing from St. Patrick’s Athletic, by the end of 2017 McGrath had really grown into his role in the Dundalk lineup. The 21-year-old scored six goals this season – a career best by some distance – with two coming in the final month. His form was such that Stephen Kenny handed him a starting spot in the FAI Cup final ahead of summer signing Dylan Connolly.
Billy Dennehy (St. Patrick’s Athletic). Scorer of two hugely important goals for St. Pat’s this month (equalisers against Galway United and Cork City) that ended up having a major impact in their Premier Division survival. Dennehy had a tough start to the season at Richmond Park (as did Pat’s, to be fair) but rallied at the end and delivered when it really mattered.
Vinny Faherty (Sligo Rovers). A key element of Lyttle’s Sligo Rovers this season were his signings. the pick of the punch, arguably have been Rhys McCabe and VInny Faherty. The latter arrived from relegation rivals Galway United, and he scored two goals (including a vital winner at home to Bohemians) in October to help ensure that Lyttle’s side retained their Premier Division status.
Eoin McCormack (Galway United). Even as Galway United were leaking goals at the wrong end, players such as McCormack and Ronan Murray ensured that the Tribesmen would be scoring enough to stay in the survival battle. The 22-year-old, signed in the summer from Ballinasloe Town, scored two goals in the last three games as Shane Keegan’s side narrowly lost their battle to avoid the drop.
Chiedozie Ogbene (Limerick). The 20-year-old ended the campaign in fine fashion as he scored two goals in October, helping ease Neil McDonald’s side away from relegation trouble and find a more comfortable spot in midtable. Limerick will be doing everything they can to keep hold of Ogbene but with the skillset he possesses, as well as the potential for even more, he’s going to be a wanted man in the next few months.