There's plenty of ways a player can qualify for any most hated XI; be a dirtbag, constantly bitch and moan, cheat, wind up the opposition fans. The lads below have all those bases covered. Most of them are very, very good players and loved by their own supporters, but all of them are despised elsewhere. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the Most Hated Team in the League of Ireland.
Goalkeeper - Barry Ryan (Limerick)
Barry Ryan has been one of the top keepers in the League of Ireland for over a decade now. A stand out for UCD he earned a move to Shamrock Rovers. He wasn't there too long before being hit with a ban for traces of cocaine in his drugs test. It was reduced to 9 months (from 15) but Ryan's Rovers career was finished. He's been a target for abuse ever since. Ryan plays up to the abuse and loves nothing more than winding up opposition fans. He played his best football with St Pats and their fans love him. You can make your own Inchicore/drugs joke there.
Boxes ticked; Winds up opposition, Drugs ban, Fruitcake
Full Back - Alan Keane (Sligo Rovers)
Alan Keane is a fine attacking full back who's been an integral part of Sligo Rovers' success in recent years. He's also one of the worst divers the league has ever seen. It's probably the fact that he's a full back doing the diving that infuriates opposition fans so much. Add in the whining, a couple of bad challenges and he's a natural fit for this team
Boxes ticked; Winds up opposition, Diving, Whinging, Mouth
Full Back - Pat Sullivan (Longford Town)
There are LOI fans who hate Pat Sullivan solely because he scored one of the best and most important goals in Shamrock Rovers history. There are others who hated how he got away with his nastry streak for years. There's even more who despised his constant whinging at players and referees. Another quality player at his peak, even Rovers fans were sick of his antics last year. He was sent off against UCD for kicking the ball into the crowd after the full time whistle.
Boxes ticked; Whinging, Nasty Streak, Fruitcake.
Centre Back - Jason McGuinness (Shamrock Rovers)
Jason McGuinness is one of those players who opposition fans can't believe plays for the top teams, but he always plays for the top teams. One of those who switched from Rovers to Bohs, he made his name a teak-tough centre half who wasn't afriad to stick the boot in when needed. In 2009 he received a 5 game ban for racially abusing Sligo's Romuald Boco. They became team mates in 2011 when McGuinness left Bohs and their money troubles. He left Sligo shortly after winning the league in 2012 to return to Dublin with Shamrock Rovers.
Boxes ticked; Nasty Streak, Racism, Club hopper
Centre Back - Dan Murray (Cork City)
When researching an article like this I try to think of players I hate. Dan Murray was one of the first 5/6 names that came into my head (not all made this team...). I then ask friends around the league and people on twitter. Plenty of people nominated Murray. None of us could figure out why we hated him, but we all did. So he's in the team. Similarly to McGuinness, most fans don't rate Murray and he has loads of medals. He's adored in Cork, but that could be because everyone else hates him.
Boxes ticked; Just a hateable player
Midfield - Stephen O'Donnell (Dundalk)
Stephen O'Donnell talks a lot. More specifically he talks to referees a lot. If talking to referees was an Olympic event, he'd be the Usain Bolt of talking to referees. Every single decision is questioned. That leads to loads of stupid bookings for O'Donnell. He was sent off twice last year, both for 2 yellow card offences. He was sent off for pushing Ger O'Brien (Pats) as they argued over a throw in and for diving against Sligo Rovers. His missed panenka last year v Bohs was warmly greeted around the league
Boxes ticked; Whinging, Whinging, Diving, Whinging
Midfield - Stephen Rice (Longford Town)
Stephen Rice was a hero to Shamrock Rovers fans for the very reasons he was hated everywhere else; because he was a nuisance who wasn't afraid to kick somebody 6 feet in the air. His cheerleaders pointed to his "all action" style and lauded his "never give up" attitude. Others pointed to his questionable tackling skills and constant whinging. His role in recent years was as protector for the better footballers in the team.
Boxes ticked; Nuisance, whinging, nasty streak, mouth
Midfield - Danny Ventre (Derry City)
Danny Ventre is a younger, English, version of Stephen Rice. They play exactly the same role. Sligo Rovers fans hated Rice, Shamrock Rovers fans hated Ventre. Neither would admit how similar the players were. Now Ventre is playing for the manager most suited to his skills with Roddy Collins in charge of Derry City.
Boxes ticked; Nuisance, whinging, nasty streak, mouth
Wing - Sean O'Connor (Shamrock Rovers)
Sean O'Connor isn't popular with anyone around the league for his diving, dramatic Italian-style gestures and his love of winding up opposition fans. He is despised by Pats fans though and would have made this list even if 18 clubs loved him. As with the rest of this team, O'Connor is a terrific player and he's scored some outstanding goals but even his own fans (at every club he's been with) could never really love him.
Boxes ticked; Diving, whinging, winding up opposition, mouth
Wing - Killian Brennan (St Patrick's Athletic)
Killian Brennan was voted Player of the Year by his fellow pros last season and has been at the top of the Irish game for nearly a decade. The song used by Pats fans to 'honour' him, "he used to be a wanker, but he's alright now...", should tell you how the majority of fans feel about him. From his cheeky bastard penalties to his undoubted nasty streak, Brennan is the subject of abuse from fans all over the country. He doesn't care what they think either.
Boxes ticked; Diving, cheeky bastard, winding up opposition, nasty streak
Forward - Jason Byrne (Bohemians)
Jason Byrne has a big nose. He knows this because opposition fans tell him at every available opportunity. When he scores, and he usually does, he rarely forgets to remind those fans to shut up and look at his goals record. If Byrne wasn't so good (and he's closing in on the league's all time record) he mightn't make this team. He's in the team almost entirely because he loves rubbing it in, and most people would too if they had as many opportunities as he does.
Boxes ticked; Winding up opposition, mouth
Who nearly made it?
There are some recently departed players that would have been serious contenders for this team (like Gary Twigg, Chris Turner & Anto Flood). There's also players that if they were that little bit better would be despised by more (like Willo McDonagh or Alan Byrne). Of the players who could break into the team in the coming seasons I think Greg Bolger's snappy midfield play could start to get more attention while Rory Patterson could well find himself in the team if he sticks around. Robert Bayly ticks a load of boxes but most fans want him in the league for the potential comedy his outbursts can bring at any given second.
Let us know if we've forgotten anybody obvious.