Selecting The Irish EFL Team Of The Season

Selecting The Irish EFL Team Of The Season
By Gary Connaughton Updated

With only the play-off finals yet to be decided, it is the right time to look back at what has been quite the season for Irish player in the English Football League.

While we want as many of our players playing in the top flight is possible, it is hugely encouraging to see just how many of them have been thriving a little bit further down the footballing pyramid.

We have attempted to select an Irish team of the season from across the three tiers of the EFL, with no shortage of competition for places.

Irish EFL Team of the Season

GK: Mark Travers (Bournemouth)

Gavin Bazunu can consider himself unlucky to miss out after a stellar season at Portsmouth, but it was impossible to overlook Mark Travers here.

The Kildare native had an incredible campaign as Bournemouth secured promotion to the Premier League, keeping 20 clean sheets along the way. That was the most in the division.

Not bad for someone who started the campaign with doubts over his claim to become the club's no. 1. Hopefully he is given the chance to shine in the top flight later this year.



CB: Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)

While Blackburn Rovers' promotion charge fell off towards the end of the season, it was still an excellent campaign for Darragh Lenihan.

Captaining the club, he made 43 appearances and kept 14 clean sheets along the way. Whoscored ranked him as the third best centre back in the Championship and the 12th best player overall.

Lenihan is perhaps a tad unlucky that he plays in a position where Ireland have such a myriad of options, but he surely must have an opportunity or two coming his way under Stephen Kenny in the near future.



CB: John Egan (Sheffield United)

John Egan and Sheffield United's promotion may have fallen just short, but the Cork man still had an excellent season. With the club having started the season very poorly, they managed to fight their way into play-offs.

That was thanks in no small part to Egan, who also wore the captain's armband for much of the campaign.



CB: Warren O'Hora (MK Dons)

Warren O'Hora had quite the impact during only his second full season in senior football. He played all but 19 minutes of MK Dons' League One campaign, which ultimately ended in defeat at the play-off stages.

The 23-year old joined the club on a permanent basis last year and is very much on the up and up.



RWB: Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United)

Ogbene has starred further up the pitch for Ireland, but he actually spent much of the season at Rotherham playing in a wingback role. He excelled there too, scoring four goals and registering 11 assists as the club earned promotion to the Championship and won the EFL Trophy at Wembley Stadium.

The 25-year old is making rapid progress in his career and looks set to star in the second flight next season, be it at Rotherham or elsewhere. Swansea City are said to be keen on signing him this summer.


LWB: James McClean (Wigan Athletic)

Eyebrows were raised when James McClean dropped down to League One to join Wigan Athletic, but the decision has been more than justified.

The Derry man had a brilliant season as the club won the division, with McClean himself being included in the League One Team of the Season after scoring nine goals and seven assists along the way.


CM: Jason Knight (Derby County)

It was a disappointing end to a hard fought season for Derby County, with Jason Knight probably the standout of a number of youngsters to drive the team on. Despite only recently turning 21-years old, the Dubliner already has well over 100 first team appearances to his name. He played 38 times in the Championship this season.

He certainly won't be in League One next year, with a number of Premier League clubs thought to be interested in him this summer.


CM: Mark Sykes (Oxford United)

Mark Sykes had an excellent season with Oxford United in League One. While the club would not manage to earn promotion, the Belfast man registered eight goals and five assists from central midfield.

The 24-year old has yet to make his Ireland debut after switching his allegiances from Northern Ireland a couple of years ago, although he was included in the squad for the friendlies in March. He will be playing in the Championship next season, with it being confirmed yesterday that Sykes is set to join Bristol City.


FW: Will Keane (Wigan Athletic)

Will Keane was probably the most impactful Irish player in English football this season.

The Wigan forward topped the League One scoring charts with a stunning 26 goals, also adding seven assists to that tally. Unsurprisingly, he was named alongside teammate McClean in the division's Team of the Season.

Keane has earned three Ireland caps up to this point in his career, but is likely to be given another opportunity to impress during the UEFA Nations League fixtures in June.


FW: Troy Parrott (MK Dons)

After having a very poor first half of the season, Troy Parrott was a player transformed in 2022 at MK Dons. He finished the campaign with ten goals and seven assists in all competitions, including some stunning strikes along the way.

It seemed that a change in attitude was responsible for this change in fortunes, perhaps pointing to a brighter future ahead for perhaps Ireland's most naturally talented young prospect.

Like a few others in this side, he will be hoping to feature quite a bit in next month's international fixtures.


ST: Michael Obafemi (Swansea City)

Michael Obafemi is another player whose season was very much one of two halves. He struggled to adapt to the Championship at first after his arrival at Swansea, but he was in jaw-dropping form to finish the season. He finished the campaign by scoring 12 goals in his last 16 appearances.

Considering how long Obafemi has been around, it is easy to forget that he is still only 21-years old. A run such as that one is quite an achievement for a player of his age.

He is sure to be in the Ireland squad for next month's game where he will hopefully transfer that goalscoring form onto the international stage.


The Team In Full

Honourable Mentions: Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth), Festy Ebosele (Derby County), Callum Robinson (West Brom), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Antonhy Scull (Lincoln City), Luke McNally (Oxford United), Corey O'Keefe (Rochdale), Danny McNamara (Millwall).

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