League of Ireland players to watch this season

In no particular order...

BY Simon Maguire 14:22 Wednesday 22 February 2017, 14:22 22 Feb 2017

St. Patricks' Christy Fagan with his winners medal. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

With the new Airtricity League of Ireland season upon us, we look at some of the players to keep an eye on over the coming months:

1. Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers)

The former Cherry Orchard, Newcastle United and Bluebell United midfielder has flourished since returning to League of Ireland football.

Miele is a tidy midfielder who can play out wide or behind the striker. He scored 9 goals last season, is also a solid set-piece taker and enjoys shooting from range.

Miele is only 22 and is slowly growing into a pivotal cog at Tallaght Stadium.

2. Christy Fagan (St. Patrick's Athletic)

Fagan recently signed a two year deal to keep him at the Inchicore club until 2018.

The former Manchester United youth prospect has enjoyed a fruitful spell since signing for the Richmond Park club, winning the league in 2013, the FAI Cup in 2014 and back-to-back League of Ireland Cups in the last two seasons.

St. Patricks' Christy Fagan with his winners medal. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

He scored 10 league goals last season but will need to improve on that tally if Pat's are to challenge for a top three place this season after finishing a disappointing 7th last term. 

3. Sean Maguire (Cork City)

The former West Ham and Dundalk forward has been a hit on Leeside since his arrival.

Last season's top scorer also provided the moment of magic as Cork denied his former club a domestic double when he scored a last minute winner at the Aviva Stadium in the FAI Cup final.

His 18 goals last season weren't enough to haul in Dundalk but Cork have kept the 22 year old on their books for the coming campaign.

4. Niclas Vemmelund (Dundalk)

Despite being primarily a right-back, the big Dane is comfortable across the back four and can use both feet when called upon.

At 6'1 he offers a presence at the back and played his part for Derry City last season as they only conceded 29 goals in their league campaign.

Cork's Stephen Dooley and Niclas Vemmelund of Dundalk. Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

At 24 years of age, he is a solid investment for Stephen Kenny as Dundalk look to fill the void left by Andy Boyle's departure to Preston. 

He brings a wealth of experience having had spells at FC Fyn, Odense and BK Marienlyst, IF Brommapojkarna and Icelandic Premier League team Stjarnan before landing in Derry. 

5. Tobi Adebayo-Rowling (Sligo Rovers)

The 21 year old enjoyed a successful debut season in Ireland in 2016 as the former Brighton and Peterborough man settled in well out west.

Sligo's Tobi Adebayo-Rowling. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

His versatility means he's an option at either right back or right wing and has attracted reported interest from a number of English clubs.

6. Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers)

The former Ipswich Town winger has settled in well at Bray and scored seven goals in 35 appearances last year.

His form saw him heavily linked with a move the LOI champions Dundalk but he signed a two year contract with the Wicklow outfit in December.

Bray's Dylan Connolly with Simon Madden of Rovers. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

At 21, the speedy left-sided winger has plenty to offer the league in the years to come.  

7. Rory Patterson (Derry City)

The free-scoring Northern Ireland capped forward was pivotal as Derry secured European qualification for the coming season.

Derry's Rory Patterson celebrates scoring. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

His 16 league goals also earned him a new two year deal as the Candystripes look to improve on last season's third place finish.

8. Ismahil Akinade (Bohemians)

The striker will need to significantly up his game after only netting five times in the league in 2016.

Bohs only scored 30 league goals last year on the way to a poor 8th place finish and only scored more goals than Finn Harps and Longford Town.

Ismahil Akinade of Bohs reacts to missing a chance. Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

9. Vinny Faherty (Galway United)

Despite Galway finishing fourth from bottom in 2016, Faherty's goals kept the westerners out of a relegation dog fight.

He scored 12 in total as Galway started the season in fine form only to fade as the midway point came along. 

Vinny Faherty of Galway is substituted. Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

By the end of the campaign, Galway were well out of contention for the European places.

10. Paddy McCourt (Finn Harps)

McCourt's signature has been viewed as a huge coup for the Donegal side.

They struggled in front to of goal last season with the whole team combining for a league lowest total of 23 goals in 33 matches.

The former Northern Ireland international is sure to provide assists and the odd "worldie" as Harps look to avoid a relaegation scrap this season.

11. Stephen Elliott (Drogheda United)

The former Republic of Ireland international's form could be the difference between Drogheda staying up or a quick return to the first division.

Although Drogehda scored 43 league goals last season on the way to a second place finish, they were fifth in the scoring charts. 

Stephen Elliott playing for Ireland in 2006. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The gap between the divisions is quite significant and Pete Mahon's men will need Elliott to rekindle his form of old if they are to remain in the premier division. 

12 Lee-J Lynch (Limerick)

Limerick were incredibly impressive in the first division last year winning all but four of their league games.

They scored an equally impressive 86 goals while only conceding 26. Lynch was pivotal at both ends as the midfielder guided his team to an immediate return to top flight football. 

Limerick's Lee-J Lynch celebrates scoring in the EA Sports Cup final. ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

He scored seven league goals and also opened the scoring in the EA Sports Cup final although Limerick lost 4-1 in the end. 




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