fIt's that time of year. Yes, the end of the season for 'winter' leagues but also that most unwelcome of interruptions for those unfortunate enough to have to go through them: Exams.

Obviously, on that front, students have to wait a bit longer to find out whether it's an A, B, C or... other letters.

But for the Irish contingent who have been part of the wider squad during Stephen Kenny's tenure, the grades can be delivered a bit more quickly.

While the League of Ireland is in the midst of the season, those playing in England, Scotland and Belgium are on hiatus for the summer at club level, although some of those listed below have a busy UEFA Nations League block of games to come in June.

But what sort of club form have these players been carrying across the 2021-22 season? Stephen Kenny will hand out his own grades in the form of Nations League squad places later, but here we've rated every Irish professional outside Ireland from A+ to C- with some leeway for younger players making a breakthrough.

Listen to the RTÉ Soccer podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth) A

The Ireland number one had a loan spell in League One last season at Rochdale and was back for more this time with Portsmouth.

To say that the 20-year-old excelled with the opportunity to play regular football would be an understatement.

The Manchester City loanee won Pompey's Player of the Season award, having kept 17 clean sheets across the 46 invaluable appearances he made in all competitions for a Portsmouth side which fell short of play-off contention.

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And his omission from the EFL League One Team of the Season incensed his manager Danny Cowley. The coach, who recently said he was convinced that the Dubliner is "ready to play in the Premier League" and "will be world class", branded the exclusion as "one of the most ridiculous decisions ever".

The sky is the limit for the Shamrock Rovers product who will have plenty of options when it comes to his next loan move which will be at a higher level than the English third tier.

Robbie Brady (Bournemouth) C

Part of the Ireland picture during the early part of Stephen Kenny’s reign as Ireland navigated the Nations League, injuries and his club situation have left the hero of Lille in limbo.

Brady left Burnley in May 2021 after his contract expired but his wait to sign for a new club only ended in mid-October when he joined Bouremouth on a short-term deal.

He has seven appearances in all competitions this season, two of which were starts.

Kenny was on hand a month ago to watch Swansea when Brady contributed to a comeback as Bournemouth earned a 3-3 draw having been three goals down when the Dubliner entered the fray with 25 minutes to go.

Alan Browne (Preston) B

The Corkman made a telling contribution for Ireland in March’s 2-2 draw with Belgium, scoring the late equalising header.

At club level, Browne continued in his role as club captain at storied Preston North End. This past Championship campaign saw him make 39 appearances, scoring five goals and laying on four assists in a variety of midfield roles. His best run of form on the goals front came during a purple patch between mid-December and mid-January when he scored three goals in four games.

Despite a solid individual effort, the 27-year-old was somewhat hard on himself as he told Lancashire Live that, "You need to fight for every single game you play in and I don't think we've shown that as a team or individually, myself."

Cyrus Christie (Swansea) B

A fringe option for Stephen Kenny with Matt Doherty and Seamus Coleman ahead of him in the right wing-back pecking order, Christie had a season of two halves.

After returning from last season’s loan at Nottingham Forest, the first half of the campaign at promotion-chasing Fulham saw the 29-year-old left on the sidelines for all of their Championship games with the player not part of Marco Silva’s plans.

That prompted a loan move to Swansea where he immediately established himself in the first team in a Swansea side that played a 3-5-2.

Three goals and five assists followed in the 22 games between mid-January and the end of the campaign as the second half of the season finished on a brighter note than how it started.

Coleman retains the leadership mantle at Everton

Seamus Coleman (Everton) B-

Relief will be the over-riding emotion for a player who has stuck with the Toffees through thick and thin.

For the Ireland and Everton captain, this season has undoubtedly been his toughest at Goodison Park since he arrived from Sligo Rovers 13 years ago as they avoided the prospect of relegation after their dramatic penultimate game.

Along with the rest of his Everton team-mates, performances have come under criticism and at 33, the demands of playing full-back in the Premier League will be a challenge he will look to face down entering the final year of his contract, especially as he transitions – at international level at least – into a right-sided centre-back berth in a back three.

But Coleman stuck to his task across 2021-22, and even filled in at left-back when Everton’s options were in disarray against Brighton in their first game of the New Year.

One of his best performances for the Merseysiders came when Everton beat Leeds 3-0 which is when the Donegal man scored his only goal of the campaign, having ventured forward regularly in the game from a more central zone.

But it’s his role off the pitch which has earned praise from manager Frank Lampard and team-mate Dele Alli.

In front of the dressing room, Lampard singled him out as "one of the best people I have ever met, as a man and what you are and as a player", with the ever modest but appreciative Coleman looking slightly uncomfortable with the spotlight.

James Collins (Cardiff) C

For a player who has hit double figures in whichever division he has found himself in every season since he bagged 15 goals for Shrewsbury Town in League Two back in 2014-15, the last one was a real disappointment on that front.

Brought from a prolific four-year spell at Luton to Cardiff City last summer by former Ireland boss Mick McCarthy, the experience turned sour for both club and manager.

McCarthy would be relieved of his duties by October and Collins was only able to score all of his three Championship goals between November and the end of January in a Bluebirds side where Wales target man Kieffer Moore was the leader of the line until he switched to Bournemouth at the end of the mid-season window.

New arrivals and changes to the forward line pushed Collins out of the first team reckoning after January with just two league appearances after that against Fulham and then 10 minutes versus Middlesbrough in late April.

He still has a year remaining on his Cardiff contract but will likely have to look elsewhere.

Nathan Collins has soared in the second half of the season

Nathan Collins (Burnley) A-

There has been some focus on the bizarre handball in Burnley’s loss to Newcastle which spelled the end of their top flight stay.

But that would needlessly overshadow what has been a really encouraging first experience of life in the Premier League for the 21-year-old.

The Leixlip native arrived at Burnley from Stoke with plenty of potential but like other centre-backs at the club, knew he would have to bide his time between the rock and a hard place represented by the durable partnership of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee.

He made nine starts for the Clarets (five in the league) before being introduced as a 40th minute sub for captain Mee against Leicester on 1 March.

And he didn’t look back, starting all but one of Burnley’s games – a fixture versus Man City after a red card against Brentford - in their ultimately forlorn battle against relegation.

The towering defender acquitted himself well to the physicality of the top flight and also appeared to be a vocal figure on the pitch, not surprising given he previously captained Stoke.

His Burnley contract runs until 2025 which means he will likely stay and help the club in the Championship next season but in 19 Premier League appearances he has shown that he has potential to compete at the highest level, having also made the breakthrough into the Ireland senior squad.

Aaron Connolly (Middlesbrough) C

As the memories of his two-goal salvo against Tottenham in October 2019 fade, the hopes that the Galwegian forward will push on have not materialised consistently.

Between injuries and selection calls at parent club Brighton, Graham Potter only granted the forward six appearances – two of which came in the Carabao Cup – with his four Premier League games amounting to just 154 minutes.

Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder was keen on the eight-time Ireland cap and got him on loan in January.

While he has had much more game time in the English north-east as Boro briefly battled for a Championship play-off place, his 19 second tier appearances (including 13 starts) have yielded just two goals.

At 22, time is on Connolly’s side but he still appears to be stationed at the career crossroads his international manager felt he was at back in November before he left Brighton temporarily.

Conor Coventry (MK Dons) A-

Not yet a part of Stephen Kenny’s senior squad, the midfielder has been an integral part of the Ireland Under-21s.

On the books at West Ham, his search for game-time eventually took Coventry on the loan circuit.

The first half of the campaign was spent at Peterborough in the Championship where he made 11 league appearances as he flitted in and out of the starting side.

But his January loan to MK Dons proved much more fruitful as he adapted to a set-up chasing promotion to League One.

Thrust straight into the side, he started every league and play-off match from his debut against Doncaster (the only occasion he didn’t complete a full 90 minutes), totaling 22 appearances and a goal versus Crewe at the start of April.

Josh Cullen (Anderlecht) A

A certain starter for Ireland under Stephen Kenny at the heart of midfield, the former West Ham academy product has also been a mainstay for Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht in both his first and second seasons.

Actually, that’s an understatement. Apart from a 68-minute showing against Beerschot just after Christmas when he was given an early rest, Cullen played the full 90 minutes in every single game for his Belgian club in the Jupiler League, cup and Europa League qualifiers for a total of 50 appearances.

The one low point for the deep-lying engine room operator was a missed penalty in a cup final defeat to Gent but he did score his first Anderlecht goal in the championship play-off round of the league against surprise package Union Saint Gillois last month.

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Summing up a satisfying experience midway through the season last December, he told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast that he was "seeing the rewards" of a full pre-season, having initially arrived for the previous campaign in a Covid-affected 2020.

His time in Belgium has been productive but whether he chooses to return to England this summer is unclear with his Anderlecht contract about to enter its final year.

Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth) B+

The former Derry City wide forward remains a regular at Portsmouth and this season saw him hit the 50-goal mark for the club after four campaigns.

This season saw him net eight in League One including three in their last five games, as well as contributing eight assists, finishing up as third top scorer in all competitions for the club.

Whether that gets him closer to adding to his seven Ireland caps, we’ll find out soon. His last call-up came in September’s window.

Matt Doherty (Tottenham) B

Taking the period between late February and early April as a microcosm, the former Wolves and Bohemians right wing-back would have been on course for an 'A’ grade such was the vitality of his performances in the spring.

But the Dubliner’s campaign overall was a mixed bag. Despite Tottenham being managed by his former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo, he barely featured in the Premier League in the first half of the campaign, partially due to an injury sustained in Ireland’s thrashing of Qatar. The majority of his game-time in that period of the season came in the Europa Conference League.

But when Nuno’s successor, the silverware-laden Antonio Conte arrived, Doherty’s fortunes changed – albeit not immediately.

As former Spurs and Ireland right-back Stephen Kelly told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast in March, just as Doherty was in the midst of seven starts on the bounce which saw him score twice and notch three assists, the renaissance was down to factors including playing outside Cristian Romero which gave him licence to play further forward and Conte’s influence.

Unfortunately, the seventh game in that impressive individual run ended the 30-year-old's involvement in the season, suffering a season-ending knee injury against Aston Villa in April.

Jimmy Dunne (QPR) A

The Dundalk-born defender had a hard time of it at Burnley. But he found a new lease at QPR after signing a three-year deal last summer.

The 24-year-old worked his way into the starting side in west London and ended up with 38 Championship appearances to his name, with 34 of those coming as starts as the club briefly showed signs of contending for the play-offs.

It’s been a welcome upturn for Dunne who recently reflected on his Burnley experience with The Athletic, telling them that he felt former Clarets boss Sean Dyche was "harsh" on him after a couple of under-par performances as a young defender.

Stephen Kenny called him up for the March friendlies in a sign of his progress.

Shane Duffy (Brighton) B

The previous season at Celtic had been immensely difficult for Ireland’s towering centre-back. But back at Brighton after that loan, the Derry man dusted himself down and re-established himself in the back three, starting 12 of their first 15 Premier League fixtures.

A memorable headed goal was the highlight in the Seagulls’ second game against Watford as the 30-year-old looked back to his best.

However, the second half of the campaign saw injuries disrupt his momentum and from mid-December to its conclusion, Duffy only made five appearances from a possible 23 games in the league.

He has a year remaining on his Brighton contract and his future at the club is uncertain.

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"He was really low when he came back from Celtic and was probably thinking about where his career was going. But he's proven to everybody that he can compete and play at this level," Potter said last month.

"For Shane as well, he's not getting any younger. So it's about how he can play as much football as he can.

"With all the players you sit down with them and think 'what's the best thing for him?' But he's someone that we have huge respect for. He's been brilliant for me since I've been here - I love the big guy to death.

"We just need to help people enjoy football because when that's happening he's a really important guy."

Festy Ebosele (Derby County) B

He will be following St Patrick’s Athletic’s James Abankwah’s footsteps in signing for Serie A outfit Udinese and it’s off the back of a good season in difficult circumstances at Derby County.

Wayne Rooney gave the Ireland Under-21 player regular minutes and the Wexford man ended a relegation-bound Championship season with 35 appearances, just over half of which were starts, and a couple of goals to boot.

The 19-year-old featured on both the left and right flanks for a stretched Derby squad where he was able to showcase his raw pace.

But Rooney did drop Ebosele to the Under-23s for a couple of games in April as the former Everton and Manchester United striker questioned the youngster’s attitude in the wake of his Udinese move confirmation before recalling him for the Rams’ final two outings.

John Egan (Sheffield United) B+

Unfortunately for the centre-back, the play-offs did not result in a return to the Premier League. But the Cork man proved dependable for a club who he has previously helped and anchored in the top flight.

The 29-year-old, who is a key man under Stephen Kenny for Ireland, played every minute for Sheffield United in the Championship and play-offs this season, with the high point being a brace against Hull City back in September.

The very definition of a pillar and stalwart for the red and white striped half of Sheffield.

Zack Elbouzedi (AIK) B+

As the former Ireland Under-21 winger told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast earlier this year, moving to Sweden has given him a new lease of life.

The former Waterford wideman plays in a summer league similar to the League of Ireland but he joined AIK last summer and is still in regular action, so one can judge the span as if it’s a winter league.

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The second half of the 2021 Swedish season saw him make 20 appearances, 18 of which were starts, scoring his first goal against Ostersunds in November – a game in which he also assisted.

The new Swedish league season started in April and he remains a regular for the Stockholm-based club with seven starts in nine games as well as four starts in the cup. He found the net in that competition against Eskilsminne in February’s group stage.

His dream of an Ireland call-up remains alive and he told RTÉ: "I haven't spoken to Stephen but I know that they watch the games and they're continuing to watch me and see how I develop."

Jeff Hendrick (QPR) C+

Even before the impact of Newcastle’s controversial Saudi takeover would be felt in January, the experienced midfielder was already on the fringes at St James Park.

The St Kevin’s Boys product made just three Premier League appearances totalling a mere 70 minutes before QPR came calling in the January window.

Initially he fared well with 10 games in 12 as he returned to the Championship but initially due to tight hamstring, his last game for the club proved to be in early April as he sat out the run-in.

In form for Ireland, his club career is less certain at present as he returns to Newcastle ahead of another transfer to pastures new this summer.

Scott Hogan (Birmingham) B

Yet to score in nine Ireland caps, the striker finished with a respectable 10 goals for struggling Birmingham City in the Championship this season.

The 30-year-old made 37 appearances in all competitions but the second half of the season was fallow on the goal front.

All 10 of those goals were netted by the end January and came in bursts of good form, with three on the trot in early winter and four goals in five games in the first month of 2022.

With a contract running until 2024, Hogan is in line to stay with the Blues unless there is movement this summer.

Daryl Horgan (Wycombe) B

The winger made 34 appearances for Wycombe in League One and was also part of their play-off push which ultimately ended in disappointment at the hands of Sunderland.

Horgan scored one goal in October where he was stationed as a second striker but for a player more accustomed to being a provider, the Galwegian weighed in with five assists across the season.

The ex-Dundalk player’s Wycombe contract is due to expire on 30 June.

Conor Hourihane (Sheffield United) B-

No longer in the first-team picture at parent club Aston Villa, the Corkman followed up last season’s Swansea loan with another temporary move away to Sheffield United.

Hourihane made 31 appearances in all competitions for the Blades but only featured for 11 minutes across the two legs against Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-final, seeing his spot kick saved by goalkeeper Brice Samba in the ensuing shootout.

Minutes had been harder to come by in the latter part of the campaign for the 31-year-old Ireland squad regular, with just one start in the last five games of the pre-play-off campaign.

With his Aston Villa contract expiring, he has been linked with a move to West Brom.

Idah became a Premier League goalscorer in January

Adam Idah (Norwich) B-

Unfortunately for the young Corkonian, his season ended February after suffering a knee injury which ruled him out of contention for Ireland’s March and June commitments - a blow for a player who has the trust of Stephen Kenny.

The injury couldn’t have been more badly timed as it occurred when he was beginning to show signs of adapting to the rigours of the Premier League.

Idah had broken his duck in the English top flight with a well-taken goal against Everton in January and having been only afforded a couple of minutes here and there at the end of games by Daniel Farke at the start of the season, was eventually thriving under successor Dean Smith as part of a strike partnership with Teemu Pukki.

Will Keane (Wigan) A+

If goals are currency, then the Wigan striker is rolling around in cash- in much the same way as a hippo sloshes around happily in mud, although a hippo's facial expression isn't easy to read.

The 29-year-old finished as top scorer in League One after netting 26 goals in 44 games, with little let-up in his consistency on that front.

Those goals were crucial in firing Wigan back into the Championship, a promotion that will allow him to get back to playing at a higher level again.

Only three caps into his Ireland career, Keane will hope to carry his club form into the international scene, having struggled to make an impact last time out against Lithuania.

Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool) B+

If it was based on his actual performances in games, the Liverpool understudy would be in the realms of an ‘A’.

But it’s the paucity of those games that prevents the Cork man from earning that grading.

Kelleher made eight appearances in all competitions for a Reds side who were chasing a quadruple until the Premier League just escaped from their grasp.

A crucial cog in Liverpool's Carabao Cup final win

Two of those were in the league while he featured in four Carabao Cup games on route to their first piece of silverware this season.

He would etch a footnote for himself in the club’s illustrious history in the final of the Carabao Cup when he made some smart saves before showing the composure of a striker – he was one briefly at youth level for Ringmahon Rangers in fairness – and scoring the winning penalty in the shootout win.

Unfortunately since that memorable February evening, his only games at any level since were the two Ireland games he started the following month.

Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth) B

A season of two halves for the Ireland Under-21 international at club level. Scott Parker gave the Dubliner regular game-time at the start of the campaign, with 12 starts by the turn of the year.

However, apart from two FA Cup outings, he was left out from late December onwards, not making a single Championship appearance again until the final day against Milwall.

Despite not utilising the player in the latter half of the season, Parker did praise Kilkenny, saying: "Gav has not been involved over the last few months, but Gavin was pivotal to this team early on in the season. And he still is."

He is certainly pivotal for the Irish Under-21s ahead of the upcoming triple-header of crucial European qualifiers against Bosnia, Montenegro and Italy.

Jason Knight (Derby) B+

Along with Chiedozie Ogbene, the midfielder was the real standout for Ireland in the second half of the 3-0 win in Luxembourg back last November.

But at club level, amid the problems behind the scenes at Derby County, the Rams had a difficult Championship campaign in spite of Wayne Rooney’s promising debut as a manager.

Reflective of how down on their luck they were and a lack of numbers in the squad, it was Rooney’s accidental tackle in a training 50:50 that left Knight with an ankle injury.

That pre-season setback meant he missed the start of the season and Ireland’s September games. But the youngster was back for his club by mid-September and was a regular in the team thereafter, taking up a variety of midfield roles.

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A player tipped with moves further up the ladder, especially now Derby have been consigned to League One, finished the season with two goals and three assists from 39 games (including 32 starts) in all competitions.

Rooney recently praised the player for leading by example and that Knight’s "energy is infectious".

Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn) A

The Blackburn captain was in impressive form earlier in the season as the 1994-95 Premier League winners put themselves in contention for a return to the top flight before ultimately falling short of the play-off places.

The Meath man only missed five Championship games all season, playing the full 90 minutes of all but two of the other 41 games.

Ireland are well stocked at centre-back but Lenihan has put himself firmly in contention for a shot at making squads.

The 28-year-old's Blackburn contract expires soon and he has been linked with moves away.

But manager Tony Mowbray, who is departing the club, said he was hopeful that a key pillar in the defence at Ewood Park would not go, adding: "Lenihan has been amazing this season, I think he’s really grown into the captaincy and had fantastic leadership and performances this season."

Shane Long (Southampton) B-

The veteran forward has earned call-ups from Stephen Kenny with Covid-19 the reason why he had to withdraw ahead of the Portugal game in September.

A manager’s dream valued by club and country for his attitude and work-rate into the twilight of his career, Long did feature in the Premier League this season, despite having been loaned out to Bournemouth in the Championship during 2020-21.

The Tipp man ended up making 13 appearances in the Premier League, although 10 of those were off the bench. But he did find the net against Everton in February and also scored and assisted against Swansea in the FA Cup third round.

All in all, 19 appearances across all competitions, even if many were cameos, is solid for a player who turns 36 next year.

Ryan Manning (Swansea) B+

It’s been an interesting season for the Galwegian who has adapted to a role on the left side of a back three under Russell Martin rather than his more customary full-back stylings.

Back in January, he told RTÉ Sport that he hoped it would help him embed himself further in Stephen Kenny’s plans given the back-three is the system du jour for Ireland.

"I think the philosophy at Swansea is quite similar to the way he wants to play: the same formation, a similar style of football, wanting to pass the ball. You'd think it all goes in my favour for upcoming squads," he told Johnny Ward at the time, emphasising that Swansea’s possession-heavy approach meant he was seeing as much ball as a midfielder.

Manning finished up the season with 42 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice and adding four assists.

That earned him game-time for Ireland in March as he made a late appearance against Belgium before playing the full 90 against Lithuania.

James McClean (Wigan) A

It’s been a good season for the veteran Ireland left wing-back. The Derry man who is getting closer to a century of Ireland caps ended up in the League One Team of the Season for his performances with Wigan on route to promotion.

McClean celebrates another Will Keane goal on the final day

His second spell at the club saw the 33-year-old score nine goals and provide seven assists in the third tier, with the only blip being an injury enforced absence in the latter portion of the season, before he returned for the final game when they clinched the League One title.

While missing much of the run-in was a blow, he had already done enough to earn individual recognition.

Jamie McGrath (St Mirren and Wigan) B-

A key man at St Mirren during Jim Goodwin’s tenure where he made 18 Scottish Premiership appearances (two goals, one assist) in the first half of the season, the former Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic midfielder made the switch to join McClean and Will Keane at Wigan.

However, the Ireland international made just two appearances totalling 70 minutes in the English third tier as well as an FA Cup start against Stoke City, after that transfer and the hope is that with a full pre-season, he gets his chance in the Championship next season.

More so for Irish hopes as Stephen Kenny decided to leave him out in March due to his lack of game-time: "It’s a tough call as he’s been really excellent for us. But his move hasn’t gone to plan for him, he’s not been featuring for Wigan and even been omitted from the squad on occasions.

"It’s not really his problem, he was in great form and doing well, but came into a team that was consistently winning and they just haven’t made the changes and he’s paid the price for that.

"My concern is not that he hasn’t been playing recently, but going forward, he may not play between now and June."

Jayson Molumby (West Brom) B

"I didn't really consult with the gaffer at all at Brighton. I think he's probably got a lot busier things to do. He's got a lot of lads in the squad he needs to look after..."

Those were Jayson Molumby’s words to RTÉ Sport last August once it was confirmed that he would be joining West Brom on loan from a Brighton where he wasn’t really in Graham Potter’s plan.

The drop back down to the Championship where he had been with Preston the previous season was beneficial in terms of getting game-time.

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He wound up with 31 appearances in all including 17 starts. The Waterford native found the net once against Middlesbrough back in February but it was his performances in the engine room that was most relevant to West Brom.

Having been brought to the club by Valerian Ismael initially, it’s his successor Steve Bruce who now has him part of his plans for 2022-23, with Molumby having signed a three-year permanent deal with the Baggies.

Michael Obafemi (Swansea) B+

His solitary Ireland cap came all the way back in 2018 under Martin O’Neill but since then he has not been in the senior picture.

That was until Swansea began to get a tune out of him in the second half of this season.

The former Southampton striker was peripheral for long stretches of 2021-22 but since scoring against Blackburn in February, he has exploded into prolific form.

He has scored 12 goals in his last 16 games in the Championship, including braces against Coventry, Peterborough and most satisfyingly for Swansea supporters, versus Welsh rivals, Cardiff.

He was tipped to be in the Ireland squad for March but chose to sit out the window, citing worries about playing too many games having suffered recurring problems with his hamstrings over the last couple of years.

Kenny described his reasons as "sincere" and fitness permitting he is likely to make a long-awaited return to the squad in June.

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Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham) A

One could be forgiven for allowing the Rotherham player’s impressive performances for Ireland to impact on how his season as a whole is perceived.

But his club form has been largely excellent, as a regular in a team that joined Wigan in being promoted to League One.

The Cork man, who tends to play as a right wing-back more often than his now customary frontline role for the Irish side, only missed one of Rotherham’s 46 league games, scoring three and providing eight assists

The crowning moment for the Millers was to score the goal that gave them the lead in the Papa John’s Trophy final at Wembley as they beat Sutton United in the final.

Former Ireland striker Stephen Elliott tipped him to push onto another level in the wake of his performances in the Boys in Green’s March friendlies.

"He'll be going back to club level now and he'll be in a really strong position. I think he'll have a lot of clubs looking at him potentially signing, even potentially some Premier League clubs," Elliott told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast.

"That's what I would be thinking now with the impact he's had in international football and his style of game."

Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich) B-

Last season had been a breakthrough for the Leixlip native as he featured in the latter of the Championship as Norwich achieved promotion to the Premier League and then followed that up with some excellent showings for Ireland in the Autumn.

This past season saw the composed defender make his Premier League debut, scoring his first top flight goal in a game against Leeds where he had been playing in an unfamiliar left-back position.

All in all he made five appearances, including four starts, in the Premier League as well as two Carabao Cup showings.

But the progress he was making has been halted since November with the 19-year-old with a back injury.

There had been hope that he would return in February but suffered a setback which ended his season and curtails involvement with Ireland for the upcoming June games. His ‘B’ rating is a reflection of his youth and that he was still in the midst of making his professional breakthrough.

Lee O’Connor (Tranmere) B

Officially no longer on the books at Celtic since January, the Tranmere Rovers right-back has been a regular for the club in League Two.

The one-time Ireland senior cap, who remains a key part of Jim Crawford’s Under-21s, made 35 appearances in all competitions for Tranmere, scoring twice and adding four assists.

The Dubliner was last in the Ireland senior squad in the summer of 2021 ahead of the Andorra and Hungary friendlies.

Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City) C

The winger’s season has ended with him being released by Bristol City after a Championship campaign in which he made 20 appearances. Sixteen of those starts and it yielded just one goal against Blackburn in November, and no assists.

The 23-time Ireland cap missed most of August and September and with injuries an issue, has not played club football since February.

Ultimately, the Robins chose not to trigger an extra year on his contract which leaves the 27-year-old searching for a new club.

Max O’Leary (Bristol City) B-

Behind Bazunu, Kelleher and Mark Travers in the goalkeeping pecking order, O’Dowda’s former Bristol City team-mate was in the Boys in Green squad when two of the aforementioned three were unavailable for March.

The Bath-born player made 11 appearances in all competitions, including nine in the Championship.

Those nine games all came consecutively as winter turned to spring but as the number two to Daniel Bentley, he has been back to being the understudy again since then.

Dara O'Shea was in good spirits as he returned in time for spring

Dara O’Shea (West Brom) B-

The Dubliner got regular game-time in the Premier League during the 2020-21 season and was all set for more as West Brom got set for life back in the Championship.

But early in the campaign, he suffered a broken ankle during the first half of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier in Portugal last September.

The 22-year-old missed about five months of action but just as he started the season with five 90-minute appearances, he ended the Baggies’ campaign in the same vein.

In all, he made 14 appearances in the league, including 11 starts and weighed in with two goals at the start of the season.

Troy Parrott (MK Dons) B+

The Tottenham player has garnered plenty of attention since he was a youngster coming through but one almost forgets that he only turned 20 in February.

After tricky loan spells at Millwall and Ipswich previously, this season the Dubliner was sent to MK Dons in League One.

Played in a variety of roles from second striker to right of the main centre forward as well as through the middle, it wasn’t until the second half of the season that we began to see the best of a player who scored Ireland’s most recent goal – the superb late winner against Lithuania.

He finished the league season with five goals in his last 10 games to add to the three he had netted earlier in the campaign. He also had seven assists.

Progress for Parrott as the season wore on

And Parrott brought that recent form into the play-offs with a goal against Wycombe which ultimately wasn’t enough to carry the Dons into the final.

The chances are that he will go on loan again next season given the competition at Spurs, although as Stephen Elliott told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast that will be beneficial in polishing a rough diamond.

"I don't think it would be a disaster for him to go on loan again next year and get more regular football because whether he'd get the regular football at Spurs with what they have now at their disposal, it would be surprising. But it wouldn't do him any harm to go out on loan again," he said.

Darren Randolph (West Ham) C-

His absence from the March friendlies despite only Caoimhin Kelleher of the current main trio being available does signal the end of the Bray man’s international career.

In any case, the veteran of 50 caps’ case has not been helped by zero game-time. The number three at West Ham the past season, Randolph only made it as far as the bench in the cups and European run, with Lukasz Fabianski and World Cup winner Alphose Areola both ahead of him.

Callum Robinson (West Brom) B

The versatile forward was prolific for Ireland last Autumn and the six goals he scored in October and November was just shy of the league total he managed for his club.

Robinson added an FA Cup goal to that total to finish with eight from 44 games – three of which came in the first three games of the season - for a West Brom side which fell a distant way shy of an immediate return to the Premier League.

He didn’t lack for creativity though, setting up nine goals during the season and remains key for Ireland.

Connor Ronan (St Mirren) A

In October, his then-St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin – now of Aberdeen – talked up his Ireland chances during an in-depth interview with RTÉ Sport.

At that point, the perennial Wolves loanee was just bedding into life in Scotland, showing early flashes of brilliance with a brace against Aberdeen in September.

In the end the attacking midfielder, scored eight goals – including one against Europa League finalists Rangers - and managed five assists in 30 games across all competitions with the thunderbolt against Hearts in the Scottish Cup the pick of the bunch.

That form earned him the Ireland call-up Goodwin had believed was within reach, although he did not play against Belgium and Lithuania. But he is in with a chance of making his senior bow very soon.

Liam Scales (Celtic) B

As debut seasons go, being part of a Scottish title win ain’t half bad. The former Shamrock Rovers defender was a fringe player admittedly but did make five Premiership appearances across December and January.

Appearances also came in the Europa League and Conference League as well as the domestic cups for a total of 13 appearances.

He had a nose for goal in those, scoring his first Premiership goal against Dundee United while also netting in the cup. He will look to push on for more involvement next year in Ange Postecoglou’s impressive Hoops outfit.

Anthony Scully (Lincoln) B+

London-born Anthony Scully has worked wonders for Lincoln City this campaign.

The former West Ham youth player has bagged 15 goals in all competitions in League One.

It was a disappointing campaign for Lincoln, who moved for Stephen Bradley as their new boss and subsequently appointed another Irishman in Mark Kennedy.

The former Under-21 international has been linked with a Championship move in previous windows and will be sure to have another big season regardless of which club he is at.

Still just 23, it would be no surprise if he was to get a nod for Ireland and in time could move ahead of Will Keane in the pecking order given youth is on his side.

Enda Stevens (Sheffield United) B-

Injuries, most recently to his calf, impacted the left wing-back this season, although the 31-year-old still finished up with 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring twice and laying on three more.

When he was available he was a certain starter and will be back in the Ireland squad again now that he is back fit.

Travers has had a productive season

Mark Sykes (Oxford) A

The former Northern Ireland youth international was a surprise call-up to Stephen Kenny’s squad in March.

But it shouldn’t have been a surprise given that the Belfast native was close to a call-up last summer and has been in outstanding form for Oxford United in League One.

The attacking midfielder had 16 goal involvements in all competitions – eight goals and the same number of assists – in 45 games, albeit he has not scored since New Year’s day.

But Kenny clearly rates the player and although he has yet to win his first cap, that could be close given the manager’s propensity to ease newcomers into the system.

Mark Travers (Bournemouth) A+

Regarded as the number three in a stacked Ireland pecking order for the goalkeeping positions, his form for Bournemouth means there’s not much to choose between himself Bazunu and Kelleher.

Unlike the latter two, he has more certainty at club level, unless Scott Parker has plans for the summer window. But even if brief, the 23-year-old isn’t bereft of Premier League experience.

It’s been a revelation of a season for the Maynooth man, starting all of 45 Championship games he was available for and keeping 20 clean sheets in the process – the most in the division.

That form earned him the Bournemouth Player of the Year award as well as the Cherries’ supporters gong.

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