Football

Irish Player Ratings: Connolly Stars As Stevens Completes Impressive Record

Irish Player Ratings: Connolly Stars As Stevens Completes Impressive Record

Well, there you have it. The longest Premier League season in history has been complete and it's fair to say it had been a fairly decent one for Irish players.

We have had some players shine on their debut campaigns, including a few youngsters who have been very impressive after breaking through at their respective clubs.

It was a fitting way to end the season for Aaron Connolly, who scored a brilliant goal to cap off a promising campaign. Elsewhere, Enda Stevens completed a very eye-catching record.

Here are the final set of Irish player ratings for the 2019/20 season:

Irish Player Ratings

Matt Doherty started at right wing back in Wolves' 2-0 loss at Chelsea, making his 300th appearance for the club. The wing back performed to a decent level, especially in the opening period, but was ultimately substituted on the hour mark in a 6/10 display according to the Express & Star.

Of course, his season did not end here. Wolves are set to continue their Europa League journey, heading into the second leg of their last 16 tie against Olympiacos having secured a 1-1 draw in Greece. They would then head to the mini tournament in Germany, with a place in next season's Champions League the prize.

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Shane Long, Michael Obafemi, and Will Smallbone all made substitute appearances in Southampton's 3-1 win over Sheffield United. Smallbone was introduced after only 30 minutes, assisting Che Adams' vital equaliser.

In opposition, Enda Stevens and John Egan were in the Sheffield United side. Egan took the armband after Billy Sharp was withdrawn, while Stevens played a major part in the game's opening goal. They were rated at 7/10 and 6/10 respectively by the Sheffield Star.

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With this appearance, Stevens also became only the second Irish player (After Matt Doherty last season) in the last seven years to feature in all 38 of his club's Premier League fixtures in a given season. He started every one of those contests as well.

Conor Hourihane was in the Aston Villa side as they confirmed their place in the division next season with a 1-1 draw at West Ham. His performance was not up to the standard he has set in recent weeks, failing to control the middle third in a 5.5/10 display according to the Birmingham Mail.

This completed what has been a remarkable escape for Aston Villa, who were seven points off safety as recently as July 12th. Speaking to the club's in-house media after the game, the Cork native described the pressure he was feeling in those closing stages:

It’s been a roller-coaster of emotions with last-minute defeats, ups and downs, and we’ve not been consistent enough over the season.

But being in the middle of the pitch with the staff, players, and all the injured lads at the end of the game – we were just over the moon.

On the pitch, it wasn’t too bad but then with 15 minutes to go I got taken off and it was a nightmare because you can’t affect the game...

I’m delighted for the club. It’s a massive, massive football club and everyone knows we shouldn’t really be in this position. Hopefully we can build on this season and move forward.

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After going goalless since October, Aaron Connolly finally found the back of the net yesterday, scoring the winner in Brighton's 2-1 victory over Burnley. It was an excellent goal, showing just how dangerous the youngster can be when drifting in from the left wing.

He was rated at 8/10 by the Brighton & Hove Independent for an excellent display. This is also the type of goal that has to excited Ireland supporters.

Connolly didn't impress during his only start at senior level, looking out of his depth at left wing in Ireland's loss in Switzerland. Many felt he cannot play that position as result, but playing on the wing under Stephen Kenny is a very different job in comparison to doing so under Mick McCarthy.

He starred in that position at U21 level and this goal is a perfect example of how dangerous he can be when drifting in from the wide positions.

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Kevin Long played the full 90 minutes for Burnley, only getting 5/10 from Lancs Live after being caught out for Connolly's goal. Robbie Brady came off the bench for the last 15 minutes.

Adam Idah played the final 12 minutes off the bench for Norwich City against Manchester City, enough time to see his side concede three goals in a 5-0 defeat.

Midfielder James McCarthy played the full 90 minutes in Crystal Palace's 1-1 draw with Spurs, completing what has been a real renaissance season for the former Everton man.

He made 33 appearances in the Premier League this season, appearing in every game since the start of December. This also represents his highest mark since the 2013/14 season. Seemingly fully recovered from a couple of horror injuries, an Ireland recall is surely now on the cards.

Everton closed out their horror end to the season with a 3-1 loss at home to Bournemouth, with Seamus Coleman starting the game. It was not the Ireland captain's best performance, struggling to contain Joshua King in a 5/10 display according to the Liverpool Echo. He was substituted just before the hour mark.

SEE ALSO: Dara O'Shea: The Journey From GAA Prodigy To Premier League Footballer

Gary Connaughton

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