We’ve already been given a dose of League of Ireland magic and as the thirst for more heads to the second round of fixtures we look at five of the players so instrumental to their sides they may just have the potential to sway the title’s destination.
To keep things even we’ve picked our five players from five different sides.
5. Gavin Peers – Sligo Rovers
Although Sligo are considered by many to be outside the dominating sides this season, some of manager Owen Heary’s late signings indicate a tilt at the title isn’t outside the realms of possibility.
It’s their captain who could make or break a successful season for Sligo, however. Having joined the club in 2006, and at the age of 29, Peers knows this club inside out and will be the man to remind his many new teammates of what has gone before, and what will be expected at the Showgrounds in 2015.
Peers is a rare breed of Irish centre-back, who is as adept at defending as he is at picking out a pass. The brand new signings will gain all the headlines as Rovers rack up the goals but if it’s to be a successful season in Sligo, Peers’ experience at the back will be a major factor.
4. Danny North – Shamrock Rovers
One of the coolest finishers in the league returned to action with his new side Shamrock Rovers in fantastic fashion on Friday night in front of the cameras.
His goal separated Shamrock Rovers and St. Pat’s on the night but if he can stay injury-free for the entire campaign he could be the difference in helping the title find its way back to south Dublin.
North signed for the Hoops this year having played with St. Pat’s and Sligo where he established himself as a top-class striker, scoring 15 league goals in 2011 with the Saints. After scoring 14 goals halfway through the next season, this time with Sligo, North looked unstoppable but a cruciate ligament rupture halted his progress and ate into his 2013 season too.
North only managed seven goals last term but if he can continue how he has started this year, defences across the country will be worried.
3. Colin Healy – Cork City
The Benjamin Button of the League of Ireland if there ever was one. Healy outdid many of his younger opponents last year, despite many placing the 34-year-old ex-international in the ‘he’s had his day’ pile.
Healy even made it into the PFAI Premier Division Team of the Year for 2014, a recognition of just how well he had performed in City’s engine room.
With time against him and a squad packed with experienced winners as well as positive youthful energy, Healy could just be the deciding factor in pushing this Cork City side over the line if they are to claim the title.
2. Richie Towell – Dundalk
Cardiff City sniffed about but the Lilywhites’ key man last year stays put at Oriel Park. It’s a positive for the league no doubt, but Towell could be a major element in Dundalk’s defence of the title.
Those at the Carrickmacross Road venue will be under no illusions of the importance Towell could play in turning potential title-deciding games on their head.
One only has to look to the composure he had in dispatching an early goal in last season’s victory at Turner’s Cross against Cork City, which set-up the Lilywhites on their way to a 2-1 win.
He may be an obvious choice but it is difficult to look past the midfield master in potential title-swaying contenders.
1. Christy Fagan – St. Pat’s
Last year’s PFAI Player of the Year will be one of the men who could determine whether or not St. Pat’s can return to the top of the pile this season.
There is a quiet sense of optimism emanating from Richmond Park, despite early-season results not going quite their way. Liam Buckley’s side will not be phased by these early upsets and a single goal defeat at Tallaght is not the greatest of concerns at this early stage.
Fagan will be the focal point of the Saints’ attack once again this year but he will now be aided by the presence of Ciaran Kilduff. If those two can strike up a partnership the FAI Cup holders have as much a chance as anyone of claiming the title.
Liam Miller – Cork City
Cork City’s showstopping signing will be one of the standout players for the Leesiders and just missed out on inclusion but we feel Healy may just have more of an impact as Miller adapts to life in domestic Irish football.
Daryl Horgan – Dundalk
The pace and skill of Horgan is at times bewildering and he just misses the cut. He will however, be instrumental in Lilywhite boss Stpehen Kenny’s plans this year.
Keith Fahey – Shamrock Rovers
Just missing out due to the major part Danny North will have to play this year. Will still be one of Pat Fenlon’s key signings, however.
Ciaran Kilduff – St. Pat’s
A striker with something to prove and surrounded by fantastic midfield talent, the big man up-front could be the perfect accomplice to Fagan this season.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena