After a bit of a lull over the past few years, there was an influx of new Irish players in the Premier League this season.
The Sheffield United contingent of John Egan, Enda Stevens, and David McGoldrick (and Callum Robinson earlier in the season) added to the group already present in the league, while the likes of Aaron Connolly, Troy Parrott, Adam Idah, and Will Smallbone also made their Premier League debuts.
We will have another Irishman in the division next season.
West Brom secured promotion to the Premier League last night, with their 2-2 draw with QPR being enough to finish in second place ahead of Brentford. Callum Robinson scored an important goal in the second half, having joined on loan in January.
However, much of the attention has been put on Dara O'Shea.
The Dublin native went into this season having never played a league game for West Brom, but ends the campaign as a key cog in what is now a Premier League team.
It has been a mercurial rise for a 21-year old who only made his Championship debut during the festive period.
Incredible second half of the season for Dara O'Shea.
Hadn't ever played in the Championship until 21 December, but now ends the season with 17 appearances, three goals and promotion to the Premier League.
He was on loan in the Southern League (seventh tier) two years ago.
— Paul Dollery (@PaulDollery) July 22, 2020
Not that we should be surprised.
O'Shea has long been touted an incredible prospect, most notably be Slaven Bilic. Speaking after the Irishman's debut against Brentford in December, he said that O'Shea was the future of the club.
I am gonna praise him, because I know he ain’t gonna be ‘big time’. Dara is the future, and he can be present. Dara is one of the reasons why when I came to the club we didn’t sign another defender.
They wanted to bring in not only Semi [Ajayi] but another, because they were lacking numbers. I didn’t want to.
Why? Because of Dara. I believe in him. Based on today, he’s a player. I love Dara.
He has indeed turned out to also be the present.
He has even chipped in with a couple of goals in recent times, netting against both Derby and Huddersfield during the past couple of weeks.
The route to the West Brom first team hasn't been an easy one for O'Shea. He spent the 2017/18 season on loan at Hereford in the seventh tier of English football, before playing 27 games in League Two for Exeter City last term.
The first half of the season was no doubt a frustrating period for the player, biding his time as he waited for an opportunity. He hasn't looked back since.
O'Shea is set to have a huge future at both club and international level. Stephen Kenny is a huge fan of his, having handed him the captain's armband at U21 level on occasion last year. A senior call-up for the September internationals looks likely.
What doe he bring to the table for a team? According to Slaven Bilic, pretty much everything:
Dara is clever – he thinks about the game, nothing surprises him.
He has a good touch but he still keeps things simple. But he does have that good touch, he could complicate things but he doesn’t.
He is very mature for his age. But, to be fair, I expect it from him. As a young player you can have your ups and downs but he is very mature.
He has got a plan no matter where he is – whether with or without the ball. For both phases of the game he has got a plan. He thinks, 'I’m going to do this because of that' or 'I am going to do that because of this'. And that’s easy to say but for a player to have that – not every player has that but Dara has.
The other things like motivation, focus, that little of self-confidence that you need – I saw that with Dara in the first week of training. He wanted to impress us straight away.
After the successes experienced by the likes of John Egan and Enda Stevens this season, we can't wait to see what Dara O'Shea can do in the Premier League over the coming months.