BOIP League of Ireland 2011 AwardsPosted: November 3, 2011
With the 2011 League of Ireland season finished, we at Balls Out In Public have decided to make some awards to congratulate those who we’ve chosen to be the best in a number of different categories for the 2011 season.
Player of the Season: Eamon Zayed. Derry City’s number one striker has been on fire all season, scoring a total of 23 goals in his first season as a Derry player. He finished as the league’s top scorer too, just beating Eoin Doyle of Sligo Rovers. His goals helped Derry to mount a serious title challenge for the whole season, as they pushed Shamrock and Sligo Rovers to nearly the very end of the season. The Libyan international scored some very important goals for his team this year, in crucial wins against Dundalk, Bohemians and Bray Wanderers.
Runners up: Eoin Doyle (Sligo Rovers) and Conor McCormack (Shamrock Rovers).
Young Player of the Season: Daniel Kearns. The winger who was with Dundalk for part of this season and turned 20 during the summer, turned out to be the Louth club’s Ace in the sleeve at the beginning of the season, ripping through defences when little was known about the youngster. In fact, the former West Ham youth was so impressive this year he was selected for Damien Richardson’s League of Ireland team for the Dublin Super Cup, and played particularly well against Celtic. Kearns was bought by Championship side Peterborough United in the summer, and he made his debut for The Posh coming on off the bench in a 1-0 loss to West Ham.
Runners up: James McLean (Derry City) and Keith Buckley (Bohemians).
Foreign Player of the Season: Craig Sives. We have decided to give this award to Shamrock Rovers defender Craig Sives who has played a vital role in the Hoops success since he joined the club in 2009. For much of the first half of the season, Craig was (somehow) kept out of the team by Ken Oman, but when Oman picked up an injury, the Scot jumped into the starting 11 and has held his position since, only being taken out when Michael O’Neill chose to rest him. He also done incredibly well to cope with a congested fixture and still be able to play to the best of his abilities.
Runner up: Joey Ndo.
Best Signing of the Season: Jason McGuinness (Sligo Rovers). This wasn’t an easy one to call initially, but after looking at how new signings contributed to their teams this season, we agreed it had to go to McGuinness as he helped Sligo Rovers break the all time League of Ireland record for consecutive clean sheets. Jason arrived at the The Showgrounds as somewhat of a scapegoat and a shaky start to life at The Bit O’Red didn’t help, but now we’re at the other of the season and Jason is a huge fan favourite, he has formed a fantastic defensive partnership with Gavin Peers and it would be a massive bonus for the club if both are playing for Sligo Rovers again next season.
Runner up: Gareth McGlynn (Derry City)
Newcomer of the Season: Daniel Lafferty. Lafferty made his Premier Division debut this season and has certainly left a lasting impression with some outstanding displays. One of many Derry locals in the Candystripes team, the young left back set about proving he’s up to the task of playing in the top flight of Irish football after helping Derry City to promotion and he most certainly has proved himself. Solid defensively, a handful for fellow full backs when he attacks down the flanks and an eye for goal, its no wonder he has attracted interest from English clubs.
Best Unwaged/Amateur player: Aidan Downes. The League of Ireland has its fair share of footballers not earning a wage from the game. The effort and heart that these players put into their game needs to be especially commended. Bohs’ mid-season acquisition has been fantastic when called upon by The Gypsies. Sometimes playing with a strike partner, other times leading the line by himself in his maiden LoI season, Aidan Downes was always a tricky customer for defences he came up against.
Runner up: Keith Buckley.
Goal of the Season: Mark Quigley (Dundalk 3-2 Galway United). This is one that could forever be disputed, but after much consideration, we chose Mark Quigley’s incredible free kick against Galway United early in the season. At a time when Galway weren’t actually that bad, they made life difficult for Dundalk, but the Tribesmen left Oriel Park with no points as they lost 3-2 but the night will be remembered for a long time to come for Quigley’s free kick as he used a perfect technique to curl it beautifully past Greg Fleming about 30 yards from goal. Mark had some top drawer finishes throughout the season, but this was by far the pick of the lot. The goal can be seen at 01:16 here. Well worth watching.
Runner up: Pat Sullivan vs Partizan.
Game of the Season: UCD 5-4 Drogheda United. This bottom of the table clash caught everybody by surprise with its incredibly high scoring finish. Before the game, only a single point separated the teams. The Students first raced to a two nil lead and looked to be cruising to victory, before Drogheda began their comeback. But before the (first) comeback had even fully got underway, the Drogs hit the crossbar on two occasions and missed a penalty to go along with it.
Drogheda then went on to score four unreplied goals, including a particularly sweet strike from Philip Hand. But somehow, UCD managed to score three more goals on the 80th, 84th and last minute to earn them a huge victory against relegation rivals.
Runner up: Shamrock Rovers 1-2 Sligo Rovers. Sligo managed to score two late goals to gain a massive three points in September’s top of the table encounter.
Best Kit: Monaghan United away. Roddy Collins’ Mons have adopted a stylish light green with black coloured jersey, with a sort of V shape incorporated in the trim. Definitely one of the most unique and interesting League of Ireland jersies.
Outstanding Achievement Award: Reaching Europe.
Everybody knows that Shamrock Rovers became the first Irish club to reach the group stages of European competition this year, when they knocked Partizan Belgrade out of the qualifiers. Stephen O’Donnell converted an extra time penalty to win the game 1-2 at the end of 120 minutes. Making the group stages has increased the profile of the league of Ireland, as Rovers have also put in respectable performances against Tottenham Hotspurs, PAOK and Rubin Kazan – not to mention even taking the lead in White Hart Lane.
Oustanding Achievement Award: Sligo Rovers’ defensive record.
There have been some outstanding achievements this year like Shamrock Rovers making it to the Europa League Group Stages and Derry City won their fifth EA Sports Cup in six years but we’re going to acknowledge the achievement that has been somewhat overlooked, the defensive record of Sligo Rovers. It’s not the fact they only conceded nineteen goals all year in the League, but rather a particular run of clean sheets during the summer which saw Brendan Clarke and his defence make the headlines for breaking the record for the most consecutive clean sheets in League of Ireland history. Between the 30th May and 23rd July, Clarke kept 9 League clean sheets, and shortly before the record was ended, he played an outstanding role in The Bit O’Red’s away leg in the Europa League against Vorskla Poltava to hold out for a 0-0 draw.
Brendan Clarke, Alan Keane, Gavin Peers, Jason McGuinness, Iarfhlaith Davoren and surprisingly for most of this run Aaron Greene all played a part in ensuring they would write their names into the League of Ireland’s history books and you’d have to imagine they’ll be there for some time to come.
Funniest Moment of the Season: Photographer. During the Leinster Senior Cup Final at Dalymount Park, a bouncing ball that had gone out of play near the Bohs’ right back position was kicked towards the half way line in direction of a player there waiting to take a throw in. The unlucky photographer was positioned in the wrong place as he saw the ball coming his way. In attempt to get out of the its way, and possibly to brace himself for a collision, he lowered his head. The ball then crashed into the side of his head, to the delight of the fans watching.
And finally, the Balls Out In Public League of Ireland Team of the season:
Heary – McGuinness – Peers – Stevens
Dennehy – Ndo – McCormack – McClean
Zayed – Doyle
Bench: Doherty, Keane, Sives, Cronin, Deery, Kearns, North
– Co-written by alanf1994 and cillian17.