Looking back on a crazy soccer season

Limerick FC return to pre-season training next week
Andrew Cunneen looks back on an unforgettable 2015 soccer season.

Andrew Cunneen looks back on an unforgettable 2015 soccer season.

Moment of the Year

The amount of people queuing on a Monday morning outside the Markets Field just so they didn’t risk missing out on tickets to the playoff game against Finn Harps really blew me away.

Considering there was often about five percent of the total Finn Harps gate in Jackman Park for home games in 2015, this moment really showed that the reintroduction of the Markets Field to senior soccer connected Limerick FC to generations past and present, while setting a solid foundation for the future.

Limerick FC Player of the Year - PAUL O’CONOR

Robbie Williams and Shane Duggan won awards in this category among fans and players – but I’ve opted for someone slightly different.

While it’s easy to be impressive in a bad spell, Paul O’Conor may have been Limerick’s most consistent performer across the season. Admittedly finishing with a smaller goal tally than he’d have liked,

O’Conor popped up with important goals at important times in Sligo and was the first Limerick player to score at the Markets Field in its second spell hosting senior soccer.

International Player of the Year - WES HOOLAHAN

Whatever about the restructuring of the qualification process to the European Championships, Ireland have qualified for a major tournament and that’s in no small part down to the exploits of Wes Hoolahan.

The former Shelbourne midfielder has put in impressive displays for Norwich for quite some time and his delayed introduction to the senior setup is now being questioned more than ever after really impressive displays across the qualifying campaign. A real touch of class.

LOI Exile of the Year - CHRIS FORRESTER

This could have gone to a number of players playing at a higher level, but in spite of all that, Chris Forrester’s move to Peterborough was overdue and despite only signing in August, the young midfielder’s really made an impression.

His manager Graham Westley said “There’s so much Michael Carrick in him, it’s scary”, and if that’s not enough to take this award, I don’t know what is

Junior Player Most Likely to Progress to LOI - ARRON NUNAN

Janesboro have had a few goalscorers in their time, and goals are a welcome addition to any side considering it’s the hardest thing to do on a football pitch.

Boro’s Arron Nunan looks like one for the future. The young striker started off his playing days with Star Rovers, before signing for Pike and Corbally – and has now landed up at Janesboro. In what was a huge step up for him by his own admission,

Nunan has taken this challenge in his stride and netted 23 times this season. Definitely one to watch.

U-19 Player Most Likely to Progress to Senior Squad - TOMMY HOLLAND

They were far from favourites to lift the national title, but there’s a resilience about this group that manager Tommy Barrett has brought to the team – falling just short of the ultimate prize in a 2-1 loss to Cork City.

Plenty of the squad have played at senior level already, but the most likely to feature long-term for the Club may be ‘keeper Tommy Holland. His shot-stopping ability is excellent, his aerial command is impressive but perhaps his biggest asset is his communication. When you consider his age, that’s a huge plus

Most Likely to Secure Big Move - PAUDIE O’CONNOR

I don’t think it will come to anyone’s surprise that there are a number of clubs interested in securing young centre half Paudie O’Connor’s signature.

His attitude, application, aerial ability and intelligence on a football pitch are at advanced levels when you consider he’s only just eighteen. Starting a large amount of games for Limerick last year, O’Connor should see even more game time this year following the Blues’ relegation to the second tier. Celtic are among those monitoring the towering defender.

Special Merit Award - KEITH WALLACE

Considering the wave of euphoria that Limerick seemed to build up around themselves in the run-in of a relegation scrap, social media and marketing had a lot to do with it. The tireless and sometimes thankless efforts of Keith Wallace,

Limerick FC’s media officer, go unnoticed to most but the Dundalk native has taken the city to heart and his work with both press and public has to be commended

Villain of the Year - BJ BANDA

In a season full of ups and downs, the final nail in the coffin felt that bit more devastating. The Limerick fans that travelled to Ballybofey on that November night will never forget BJ Banda’s name for all the wrong reason.

Goal of the Season - SEAN RUSSELL V ST PAT’S

There were a few contenders here, but the pick of the bunch is Sean Russell for his strike against Bohemians in that memorable 4-3 win with ten men. Taking aim from all of 25-yards,

Russell fired a vicious strike into the roof of the net.