There have been some standout young performers in the League of Ireland this year and Nigel Naughton is here to give us ‘7 LOI Stars Destined For the UK’.
Although the perceived attitude in Ireland is that if you aren’t in England at 16, you won’t make it, there are a number of talents who have bucked that trend.
The League of Ireland can be a bedding ground for young, gifted players. They can get exposure to first team football, which they would not gain in England, and continue to grow as footballers, both physically and mentally, before then possibly launching an onslaught across the water.
Seamus Coleman, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Keith Fahey and Wes Hoolohan are the most successful out of a host of players who have gone this route, but who will be next?
1. Richie Towell (Dundalk)
The Dubliner has yet again, been sensational in the engine room for Dundalk as they march towards the Premier Division title. Still only 23, the former Celtic man was the PFA Young Player of the Year last season, and looks set to be right up there for the personal accolades at the end of the season.
Possesses enough ability to succeed back across the water.
2. Michael Duffy (Derry City)
Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest were both reportedly interested in the 20 year-old winger. A scorer of spectacular goals for the Candystripes, Duffy has continually impressed and being a threat in every game he has played for Derry.
Often deployed on the left, Duffy is extremely potent at coming in off the flank and linking up with the strikers. Will only get better.
Here’s Duffy scoring a rocket for the U19s back in 2012.
3. Daryl Horgan (Dundalk)
This writer had the privilege of playing with Horgan at underage in the FAI Emerging Talent. Still only 22, like Towell, he has been in superb form as Dundalk look set to win the Premier Division.
A tricky winger who can play either side, the Galway man has also scored some superlative efforts in the League of Ireland. Reported interest from Barnsley last season, there will be more in January for this fleet footed talent.
Here’s Horgan scoring one of the best LOI goals in recent years.
4. Ryan Manning (Galway FC)
Another Galway native, still only 18, but with two years experience in the League of Ireland. Manning came to prominence under Johnny Glynn at Mervue United, making the First Division Team of the Year in his first season.
Recently starred in the Republic of Ireland Under 19’s 1-0 over Netherlands, as well as scoring a late winner for Galway away to Cobh Ramblers. Strong, quick and possesses a ferocious left foot.
Here’s Manning scoring a great goal for Galway.
5. Gary Boylan (Sligo Rovers)
A talented 18 year-old who can play anywhere across the back four. Both footed, calm on the ball, and physically adept for a teenager. Back involved with the Sligo first team after spending the summer playing GAA for the Mayo minors, Boylan recently signed a new contract at the Showgrounds for the 2015 season, where he will gain more first team football which will greatly improve his development.
Gavin Dykes recently stated that he expected the Belmullet man to be making a move to England at some stage in his career.
Here’s a fantastic point by Boylan for the Mayo minors, purely because we can’t find a goal to show!
6. Evan Osam (Shamrock Rovers)
Only 17, Evan is a Republic of Ireland Youth International and the son of League of Ireland legend Paul Osam. He has featured three times for Shams’ first team, as well as lining out for the B team in the First Division.
Osam has a clear pathway in which he can develop into Shams’ first team, taking in Under 19 and B team football. Still has loads of time to develop, expect him to make an impact in Tallaght over the next few years first, before eventually heading across the water.
7. Patrick Hoban (Dundalk)
Another Galway native, Hoban was been in unbelievable form for Dundalk this season. He, along with Horgan and Towell, have been the stars of the show.
Spent time at Bristol City in between two spells with Mervue United, where he made his name in the League of Ireland. Was also named in the Team of the Year last season, the 23 year-old is a strong, powerful striker who knows where the goal is, and Dundalk will do well to hold on to their three prized possessions.
Nigel Naughton, Pundit Arena.
Love LOI, check out these articles: