As John O'Shea takes his leave of international football, it is worth considering this problematic stat: he is the last Irishman to actuallyÂ winÂ the Premier League: he and Darron Gibson picked up medals in 2011. Ever since, the Irish influence on the league has receded, to the point that there were no Irish players involved with any of the top six in this year's league. (Conor Masterson and Kieran O'Hara have floated about the fringes of the Liverpool and United squads respectively, but they have yet to make a senior first-team appearance).
There have been plenty of Irish involved in the lower reaches of the league - and not all at Burnley - but few made a huge impact on the league this season. Perhaps the biggest impact was wrought by a man who left the league...
08/09 - 12th with Whelan
09/10 - 11th with Whelan
10/11 - 13th with Whelan
11/12 - 14th with Whelan
12/13 - 13th with Whelan
13/14 - 9th with Whelan
14/15 - 9th with Whelan
15/16 - 9th with Whelan
16/17 - 13th with Whelan
17/18 - relegated Without Whelan
â€” George (@StokeGeorge) May 14, 2018
But how did those who stuck around get on? Here we run down the Irish performers in the Premier League, beginning with the most influential...
1 - Stephen WardÂ
Burnley's defence traded in parsimony for most of the season, and Ward was one of its most vital members. Burnley's worst run of form coincided with his mid-season injury, and the stats show Ward to be among the most valuable players of the season. Burnley's averaged 1.75 points per game when he played, compared to just 0.5 per the games he missed. Oh, and he scored a Goal of the Season contender on the opening day of the season at Chelsea. A really good year's work.
2 - Seamus ColemanÂ
The great man made his return at the end of January, and bar a brief spell out injured in the latter half of February, has been an ever-present since. Coleman's consistency since his return has been one of the very few positives of Everton's appalling season.
3 - Shane DuffyÂ
The delightfully-alliterative Duffy/Dunk defensive partnership was the rock upon which Brighton built an impressive debut Premier League season. Duffy grew increasingly comfortable as the season went on, bar a craggy afternoon at Anfield on the last day. He ended the season with 237 headed clearances, 85 more than his nearest challenger, Ahmed Hegazi.
4 - Declan RiceÂ
Public criticism from David Moyes for an error against Man City accentuates just how far Rice has come this season. An encouraging Irish debut (in a game in which it wasn't difficult to stand out in, admittedly) came after carving out a spot for himself on the West Ham teamsheet. Since performing admirably in a 2-1 defeat away to City in December, Rice became a regular in 2018, starting all of West Ham's games from March onwards. Imagine how good he would be at a club not eternally engulfed in dysfunction?
5 - Ciaran ClarkÂ
A decent season at Newcastle for Clark, although it all ended rather abruptly. Having been a regular starter up to February, he spent the rest of the season on the bench as Rafa Benitez elected to partner Jamal Lascelles andÂ Florian Lejeune.
6 - Jeff HendrickÂ
A somewhatÂ frustrating season for Hendrick, and he has entered the territory of failing to kick on from the Euros. He made plenty of appearances for Burnley but only about half of them came from the start, while he registered just two goals and a pair of assists all season.
7 - Kevin LongÂ
Long certainly took the long way round to regular football at the club he signed for eight years ago: loan spells at Accrington, Rochdale, Portsmouth, Barnsley and MK Dons along with a couple of long-term injuries, but this was his breakthrough year. Ironically, injuries to others proved his opening, and allowed Long to start all but three of Burnley's Premier League games since the end of January. With the club likely to struggle to hold on to Ben Mee and James Tarkowski next season, there may be further opportunities for Long to flourish at Turf Moor.
8 - Robbie BradyÂ
Brady's season was encouraging before being scuppered by injury: starting all of Burnley's games before breaking his leg against Leicester in December.
9 - Shane Long
A season largely defined by an appalling scoring record: just two goals in all competitions is a desperately poor return, even in a prety miserable Southampton team.
10 - James McCleanÂ
Judging by his thinly-veiled comments about Alan Pardew since his departure - "It obviously helps when you go out on the pitch knowing what you're doing - as individuals and as a team" - it's clear to see that the Irishman wasn't overly-enamoured with the Reign of Pards. That can probably be ascribed to the fact that McClean didn't really play under Pardew: making just 11 starts until Darren Moore took over. A single goal all season, considering his excellent scoring record at international level, was a deeply disappointing return. He may well secure a Premier League return next season, but there has been very little speculation linking him anywhere other than the Championship as of yet.
11 - Rob ElliotÂ
Rafa Benitez chopped and changed goalkeepers quite a bit during the first half of the season before settling on January signing Martin Dubravka, meaning Elliot ultimately failed his audition for the No.1 spot. He made 16 appearances in all, but hasn't been seen on the Newcastle bench since January.
12 - Harry ArterÂ Â
Arter's season was curious. Having enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Eddie Howe for years, he completely fell out of favour a few weeks into the season. Having started Bournemouth's first six games of the season, Arter slowly faded from the picture before vanishing altogether in 2018, making a single Premier League start. He ultimately found himself omitted from many of Howe's matchday squads as the season wound down and may need a move to kickstart his career .
13 - Jon WaltersÂ
Walters' absence at Stoke was more keenly felt than his presence at Burnley. His season was wrecked by injury, making just four appearances. Hopefully better fortune awaits him next season...
14 - James McCarthyÂ
Like Walters, had a season of his career stolen by injury. Having played three games in less than two weeks in January as he built fitness, McCarthy suffered that hideous broken leg against West Brom just a week later. Extremely unfortunate.
15 - Damien DelaneyÂ
Delaney has slipped down the pecking order at Palace, starting just one Premier League game all season. He waved goodbye to the club at the weekend, although was curiously feted by Roma.
đź¦ #GrazieDamien pic.twitter.com/httLY4oHE3
â€” AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) May 14, 2018
See Also:Â Graeme Souness Reportedly Stormed Out Of Sky Sports Studio Following Row