Some inspiration through the rear window ahead of the LOI transfer window opening

Dalymount Park

Dalymount Park Credit: Thomas Flinkow (ETPhotos)

It's coming up to that time of the year where cheque books are sprung open, Transfer Room profiles are booted up and agents’ phones begin to ring merrily. The League of Ireland transfer window is set to open in a few weeks and teams across the country will be looking to strengthen their squads.

Scouts, data profiles and player circumstances and personalities all feed into a transfer taking place while there are a plethora of ingredients as to whether a player move is successful - there's no recipe to ensure it'll work but in the League of Ireland there are a couple of indicators for each position which might help. 


If you're after Premier Division title success, it's worth bearing in mind that Brendan Clarke is the only goalkeeper this decade to have been a table topping starting number one aged less than 30. The then 28-year-old was the Pat's number one in 2014.

This record looks to be broken this year with Derry City's Brian Maher (23), Shelbourne's Conor Kearns (26) and Shamrock Rovers’ Leon Pöhls (27) all under 30, although the latter two are approaching a decade in the league and have hundreds of league appearances while Pöhls is a multi-title winning squad member and played 15 times as the Hoops finished top of the pile last season.

Though if you want to stick to the formula, St Patrick's Athletic keeper Danny Rogers (30) and Clarke (38) are the only current Premier Division options.


With Shamrock Rovers regularly using a wing back system instead of the flat back four utilised by St Patrick's Athletic, Dundalk and Cork City during their respective Premier Division title wins, it's a bit tricky trying to find a pattern across all the teams.

However, it is a strange coincidence that three of the most prominent left sided defenders who have won titles over the last decade are iconic names at their clubs (Dane Massey: Dundalk 2012-2020, Ian Bermingham: Pat's 2010-2022, Seán Kavanagh: Shamrock Rovers 2018- present), have spent time with Shamrock Rovers earlier in their career, are former underage internationals (in Massey's case the latter two were futsal based feats) and all three are from Dublin.

What options does that leave in the transfer market? Trevor Clarke would fit the bill nicely as would Evan Osam (currently at Bray Wanderers) and Adam Wells (UCD). 

At right back you realistically just need to sign Seán Gannon. Currently bedding down in the right hand channel of a Shels defence at the league summit, the Ringsender is a serial title winner at St Patrick's Athletic (1), Shamrock Rovers (4) and Dundalk (5) and made the PFAI Team of the Year six years in a row. 

In the centre of defence, the past decade has seen one of the centre half partners being a physical presence who wears the number 3 jersey.

Examples in the last decade include Cork City's Alan Bennett, Brian Gartland of Dundalk and Seán Hoare at Shamrock Rovers.

All three number threes gathered both league and cup silverware during their time in the League of Ireland.

Options here wearing number 3 at the moment are Galway's Regan Donelon and Drogheda United's Evan Weir although capable of playing centre half both are more comfortable at left back.


In midfield you need a ball winner who winds up the opposition, collects yellow cards like confetti and plays with a scowl which would cause you to think twice about asking for the salt if they were sitting beside you.

Title winning examples, who have showcased some of these traits, over the decade include Chris Shields at Dundalk, Greg Bolger at both Shamrock Rovers and Cork City, and Conor McCormack of Cork City.

At the moment it looks like Damien Duff has picked up on this trend with the recruitment of both Mark Coyle and Aodh Dervin while Drogheda United's Gary Deegan is another who fits the bill.

The younger St. Pat’s pair of Aaron Bolger (24 years old and 14 yellow cards in 2023) and Adam McDonnell (27 years old, 11 yellows) of Bohemians have also showcased their combative nature of late. 

Having an experienced and multifunctional right sided player has also proven to be a tradition in title winning teams since 2014.

Current Dundalk skipper John Mountney was predominantly a right winger during his four title wins, although filled in at right back at times and even up front for a short period.

At Cork City, Jimmy Keohane could operate in central midfield and wide on the right hand side in both defence and attack, as could Dubliner Steven Beattie- both of whom won FAI Cup and Premier Division medals while on Leeside. 

The versatile veteran Ronan Finn picked up a handful of championships at both Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers mainly in the centre of the park before being recast as a right wing back in his latter days at Tallaght Stadium.

Current Sligo Rovers skipper Niall Morahan can do a decent job at right back or in the centre of the engine room, is an established player in the league and carries leadership qualities too.

Luke Heeney of Drogheda United is another who has been operating at both right back and midfield throughout his senior League of Ireland career which spanned six seasons on Boyneside.

With high scoring midfielders particularly useful when it comes to winning titles in the past decade - Richie Towell (25 league goals in 2015), Danny Mandroiu (15 league goals in 2021), Conan Byrne (18 from the right wing as Pat's won the 2014 league), Chris Forrester (11 goals from central midfield in the same season), Michael Duffy (12 goals from the left wing in 2018 and 13 in 2019 as Dundalk won the league on both occasions),

Jack Byrne netted nine times from midfield in the truncated 2020 campaign, while Graham Burke has hit double figures in the 2021, 2022 and 2023 league seasons from a variety of attacking positions.

Regarding goalscoring midfielders in the league, Chris Forrester is still an important presence in the Pat's midfield while Jordan McEneff netted eight times last season, a figure similar to current Derry City teammates Dan Kelly and Will Patching.

Current Premier Division midfielder Vince Borden netted ten times for Galway United in the First Division last year, while Shelbourne loanee Will Jarvis netted seven times in 19 league games in 2023.

While discussing midfield goalscoring loanees, Ellis Chapman at Sligo Rovers is someone who should form part of the conversation. The Englishman has grabbed four goals so far this season, including winners against both Waterford and St Patrick's Athletic.


Up front an experienced warrior who keeps defenders on their toes, holds up the ball and finds the net in double digits has proven to be a success in picking up Premier Division titles over the past decade or so.

With initially Pat Hoban leading the line at Dundalk, Cork City's Mark O’Sullivan took over as the main striking threat while Rory Gaffney of late has seen Shamrock Rovers top the pile.

While both O’Sullivan and Hoban had departed their respective clubs for the zenith of their respective clubs’ successes (Dundalk's 2016 Europa League Group Stages and City's 2017 Premier Division title) they are still iconic for the parts they played along the way with Hoban returning to smash the Lilywhites' goalscoring record and O’Sullivan winning the 2016 FAI Cup.

Gaffney, for his part, has been a massive driving force in Rovers' recent dominance. 

Regarding options in the league, Waterford's Pádraig Amond is another seasoned performer who is proving his worth at the top end of the field for the Blues while fellow newly promoted outfit Galway United have the bustling Stephen Walsh up top. 

Incidentally, while David McMillan (Dundalk) and Seánie Maguire (Cork City) became prolific following the departures of the aforementioned Hoban and O’Sullivan respectively, Shamrock Rovers have dominated the past five seasons with Danny Mandroiu’s 15 league goals in 2021 the highest individual league total recorded during their four in a row title successes- a far cry from the 20+ goal a season strikers such as Jason Byrne (Shelbourne), Eoin Doyle (Sligo Rovers) and Glen Crowe (Bohemians) who spearheaded title charges in the decade prior to 2014.

(Disclaimer: this article does not guarantee that signing any of these players is possible nor will actually be individually responsible for winning titles if they are signed)