Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ranking The Top 10 Irish Players Of The 2023/24 Season | Balls.ie

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With the 2023/24 season set to draw to a close in most domestic league over the next few weeks, it is time to look back and reflect on the the exploits of some of our Irish players over the course of the campaign.

It has been a mixed season among our pool of international players. Whereas many of them thrived and took the next step in their careers, others experienced a dip in form and struggled to hit the heights they had in previous years.

Still, there was more than enough for Irish football fans to be encouraged about. With that in mind, we have ranked the top ten Irish performers of the season.

A couple of things to keep in mind. These rankings are based only on this season, meaning past performance or future potential were not taken into account.

As well as that, the level at which the player featured was also taken into account. For example, a player in the Championship may have made more impressive raw stats than another player, but the fact that they were playing at a lower level would count against them.

With that in mind, here are the final rankings of Irish players for this season.

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Ranking The Top 10 Irish Players Of The 2023/24 Season

10. Mikey Johnston (Celtic/West Brom)

Mikey Johnston was a bit part player at Celtic during the first half of the season, making only a handful of appearances off the bench in the league. He would make a couple of appearances in the Champions League and score two goals against Dundee over the festive period.

However, it was after his loan move to West Brom that he really came to life.

The winger would score seven goals and register one assist in 17 Championship appearances, with the club looking likely to secure a play-off spot ahead of this weekend’s final fixture.

Honourable mentions: Adam Idah, Jason Knight, Alan Browne, Josh Cullen

9. Troy Parrott (Excelsior Rotterdam)

Troy Parrott’s season has been affected by injury at times, but the Dubliner still put together a very impressive campaign in the Netherlands.

Parrott has scored eight goals and pick up four assists in the Eredivisie, despite playing in only 22 games. In fact, when you consider that he did not start each of those fixture, he actually registered a goal involvement every 100 minutes.

That is an impressive level of production for a player who had struggled during some of his previous loan spells. His form in the Netherlands is said to have caught the attention of some big clubs, with the likes of Ajax and PSV said to be considering a move for the Spurs man this summer.

8. Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Evan Ferguson’s form has dropped off a cliff in the second half of the season, but considering how well he played during the first half of the campaign, he is still deserving of his spot on this list.

The teenager would score six goals in the Premier League, as well as make seven appearances in the Europa League. His hat-trick against Newcastle back in September was arguably the most memorable performance from an Irish player of the entire campaign.

Ferguson would struggle for form since the the turn of the year, dropping out of the Brighton team at times after battling some injury issues. He is now set to miss the last few games of the season due to injury.

We would expect him to place a lot higher in next season’s version of this article.

7. Festy Ebosele (Udinese)

This was a real breakout season for Festy Ebosele, who was a mainstay in the Udinese side for the majority of the Serie A campaign. He has made 28 appearances in the league so far, although he has found himself out of the team in the last few weeks.

Operating as a right wingback, Ebosele has steadily improved in that role in recent times having been a more attacking player during the early portion of his career.

With Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty coming towards the end of their careers, he looks likely to be an important player for Ireland over the coming years.

6. Nathan Collins (Brentford)

Having broken the record for the most expensive Irish transfer of all-time for a second successive summer, hopes were high that Nathan Collins would really kick on after his move to Brentford.

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While he has struggled for form on occasion this season, it’s fair to say that he has justified his price tag.

The Kildare man has made 30 appearances in the Premier League so far this season, and one or two high profile errors aside, he has been very consistent at the back. Collins has featured in all but one of the league fixtures he was available for this season, starting in all but three of them.

It was an impressive season for the centre back, who at just 23-years old should still improve quite a bit over the coming campaigns.

5. Chiedozie Ogbene (Luton Town)

Chiedozie Ogbene would have ranked higher in this list were it not for his injury issues in recent times.

The winger was in sensational form for Luton Town at times this season, causing real problems at the back for some of the best teams in the Premier League. His tally of four goals and one assist does not really quantify the impact he had at that club, where he was their best player for large stretches of the campaign.

Unfortunately for Ogbene, he has not featured for Luton since mid-March and could well miss the remainder of the season due to injury.

By the end of the campaign, he will have played less than 50% of the total available minutes, something that bumps his down a spot or two in these rankings. Still, it was a wonderful debut season for him in the Premier League.

 

4. Dara O’Shea (Burnley)

Dara O’Shea’s season at Burnley has probably been a bit underrated in certain circles.

The Dubliner has started all but one of the Premier Leagues for which he has been available this season, playing the full 90 minutes in the cast majority of them.

Burnley have struggled as a team, but O’Shea has impressed on more than a few occasions. His average of 3.8 aerial duels won per game is the sixth highest mark in the Premier League, also ranking fifth for clearances in the division.

His ability to recover in behind has also been impressive, with the defender clocking one of the ten highest sprint speeds in the Premier League this season. Add onto that a couple of memorable goals at Liverpool and Chelsea, and four assists, and it looks like an impressive campaign for the player.

3. Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool)

Caoimhín Kelleher has operated a higher echelon of the game than other Irish player this season.

The Cork man played a pivotal role for Liverpool at a key stage in the Premier League title race, as well as in the Europa League. On top of that, he starred during the club’s run to the Carabao Cup final, going on to star in the final victory over Chelsea.

Kelleher has made 26 appearances in all competitions this season, a mark that surpasses every other campaign of his career combined.

His development over the last 12 months or so has been incredible, with the 25-year old looking like one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season when he has played. With a new manager coming in over the coming months, we have the suspicion that he will be Ireland’s no. 1 moving forward.

2. Liam Scales (Celtic)

Not many people would have expected Liam Scales to have the type of season he has had at Celtic in the 2023/24 campaign.

The defender looked like a forgotten man at Parkhead coming into this season, having spent time on loan at Aberdeen and many feeling he could move on from the club. However, after being handed an opportunity after injuries to other squad members, he has never really looked back.

Scales has made 30 appearances in the Scottish Premiership, playing the full 90 minutes in every single one of them. He would also play every minute of Celtic’s Champions League campaign and was widely hailed as their best player in that competition.

It has been an incredible season for the player, who could still cap it off with a league and cup double.

1. Sammie Szmodics (Blackburn Rovers)

Sammie Szmodics may be the only player on this list who has not played top flight football this season, but it is difficult to argue that he has not been the best Irish footballer in the game in the 2023/24 campaign.

The 28-year old has been in sensational scoring form for Blackburn Rovers. Not only is he the top scorer in the Championship with 25 goals, but he is also the joint most prolific player in the FA Cup with six strikes to his name.

Encouragingly, Szmodics also looked like the best player on the pitch during both of his first two Ireland appearances back in March.

With the forward being linked with a £20million Premier League move on the back of his exploits this season, he is deserving of the top spot in these rankings.

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