The 2015 SSE Airtricity League season is coming to a close and it has been choc-full of goals (505 at last count in the Premier Division). Top scorer is Richie Towell with 22 league goals and there are 11 others in double figures. But not every thing in football is about goals. The team listed here contains some very good players. They just haven't scored in a while. Here's the LOI XI of the players who have gone most league games (any league/division) without scoring a league goal.
GK - Ryan Coulter, Sligo Rovers (8 games)
OK, he's the first player and we're already changing the rules but we couldn't just put a keeper with the most games without a goal, could we? So we're going with the keeper with the longest streak of games without a clean sheet.
Aside from Limerick teenager Tommy Holland (2 games), Coulter is the only goalkeeper to concede in every Premier Division game that he has played this season. After suffering relegation with Athlone Town last season, he arrived at the Showgrounds as back up to Richard Brush.
Brush was brought off during the opening game of the season against Cork City after falling heavily on his shoulder. Coulter stepped in for a few weeks into a side that leaked goals for fun, starting with a 95th minute equaliser by Ross Gaynor. Brush reclaimed the gloves and Coulter hasn’t featured since July. His only clean sheet so far was an 8-0 EA Sports Cup victory over Mayo League.
D - Mark Rossiter, Longford Town (123 games)
No outfield player has gone longer without a competitive goal in Ireland's top flight than Rossiter. The full-back has three league winners’ medals in his collection but he never scored for St Pat’s, Dundalk and now Longford Town, although he only started four league games for the Lilywhites last year.
All seven of the league goals he scored were for Bohemians in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, the last in a 3-0 win over Pat’s at Dalymount Park in September 2008. Rossiter fired a thunderbolt into the top corner of the net from all of 30 yards.
D - Pat Sullivan, Longford Town (115)
Another veteran Longford player features in our back four in the form of Pat Sullivan, who hasn’t found the net since he returned home from Australia in 2012. Sullivan scored twice in the league for Shamrock Rovers, against his former club Cork City in October 2009, and away to Galway United in March 2010, a game which ended his season due to a knee injury.
Having missed out on Rovers’ European adventures on that occasion, Sullivan helped the Hoops make history by qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League. I suppose if this was to be the last goal you’d ever score in your career, you couldn’t have too many complaints.
D - Shane Grimes, Dundalk (90)
With the league title wrapped up, Stephen Kenny is giving some of his fringe players a run in the side and Grimes made his fourth league appearance against Galway last week. Grimes is a native of Dundalk and is enjoying his second spell here having developed in the club's underage system.
He was first called up to the senior squad by manager Jim Gannon in 2005. He scored once in Monaghan United's promotion winning season in 2011 but none in the league in a three year spell with Drogheda United, and, in 2012, an eight month ban followed a positive test for a prohibited substance. Grimes, or Grimey, as he likes to be called, did score a second half brace away to Wexford Youths in the Leinster Senior Cup earlier this season and once on Drogheda’s road to the FAI Cup final.
D - Conor McCormack, Derry City (102)
McCormack is something of a utility man having been shunted from midfield to full-back throughout his career, although it was the middle of the park at Markets Field last week where he was a commanding presence. That 2-0 win confirmed safety from relegation for Derry, who signed the former Manchester United trainee in July from St Patrick's Athletic.
Still only 25, McCormack has never scored in his career, and it looked like he would finally break his duck on his 100th senior league appearance at Turner’s Cross in September. Five minutes into the game, McCormack had a clear cut opportunity only to see his shot saved by Cork’s Mark McNulty. He's great in training though.
M - Chris Shields, Dundalk (62)
Shields has played a pivotal role in Dundalk’s back-to-back championships but he has been getting plenty of stick from his teammates for failing to get his name on the scoresheet in 2015. For a team that has scored 102 goals in all competitions, one can only imagine the off the scale bantz in the dressing room right now.
Himself and John Mountney are the only players remaining from the dark days before Stephen Kenny's first season in 2013 and Shields’ league drought stretches back to a 2-0 win over Sligo Rovers in August of that year. He’s scored once since then, in the Setanta Cup against Shamrock Rovers.
M - Robert Bayly, Drogheda United (112)
In 2010, Bayly scored a couple of goals for Shamrock Rovers on the way to their first title in 16 years. He even started against Juventus in the Europa League.
Bayly’s career has since taken him to Bohemians, Monaghan United, Shelbourne, back to Shamrock Rovers again, Shamrock Rovers reserves, Cliftonville and Drogheda United, accumulating 29 yellow cards, 5 red cards and 0 goals in the league in the process. Boccer did score in an FAI Cup tie for Bohs, and, coincidentally, the same Setanta Cup match as Stephen McPhail. Speaking of...
M - Stephen McPhail, Shamrock Rovers (157)
You might have heard a stat recently that Javier Mascherano hasn’t scored a league goal since a strike for Liverpool on April 15th, 2008. Well, McPhail’s last league goal was three days earlier, in the Championship, when he volleyed home for Cardiff against Hull at Ninian Park - a stadium that was demolished six years ago.
McPhail bravely battled cancer to extend his career with Sheffield Wednesday and Shamrock Rovers and the former Ireland international midfielder has scored only once since his Cardiff days, curling home a free kick just eight minutes into his Hoops debut, against Glentoran. Altogether he scored just ten goals in a 17 season spell in England, six from open play, and his only goal for Ireland came directly from a corner. That must have made Steven Staunton proud.
M - Mark Hughes, Drogheda United (58)
Another Drogs player partners Bayly in midfield of this Goal Drought XI and that’s Mark Hughes, who has also gone over 50 League of Ireland Premier Division games without finding the net.
The Boynesiders are struggling, having won just one game since June, but perhaps Hughes will take inspiration from his ex-Manchester United and Barcelona namesake and score a crucial goal in their quest for survival.
Hughes’ last two goals in all competitions were for Drogheda in the 2014 Leinster Senior Cup, and for Athlone against Waterford in the First Division the previous year.
M - Raffaele Cretaro, Sligo Rovers (42)
Cretaro recently made his 500th senior appearance and he is the third highest scorer in Sligo Rovers’ history. Now 34, he is a living legend in Sligo. While he has notched a couple of goals in cup competitions, the Tubbercurry Tornado hasn’t been a dangerous force when it comes to league action.
17 different players have scored a goal for the Bit O’Red, more than any other team but surprisingly Cretaro isn’t one of them. He drew a blank in 2014 too although due to injury he only played a part in 13 games. Playing centre half in the entertaining Joseph Ndo era didn't help his goal cause.
F - Mark Quigley, Derry City (18)
Quigley made his first league start for the Candystripes in Limerick last week, and he has only been on the pitch for a grand total of 256 minutes this season. But a 15-month run without a goal is still worrying for the 2012 PFAI Player of the Year. Since that amazing year for Quigley, he has scored only 4 times in the league.
Peter Hutton signed Quigley in July following the departure of Anthony Elding. He was a free agent after failing to secure a club due to a back problem earlier in the year. With 28 goals, Derry are the second lowest scorers in the division, and Quigley’s teammate Cillian Morrison is still searching for his first league goal on Foyleside as well.
Some to just miss out on the team include Patrick McEleney (despite being a terrific attacking player for Derry City, he scored his first goal in well over a year last week), Conor Powell (the Longford Town left back hasn't scored in the LOI since 2009 but did score a league goal in Norway in his short spell there) and the St Pats captain Ger O'Brien who's only goal in the last 4 seasons was this cracker in 2013.