Gavin Molloy at Shelbourne

League of Ireland Premier Division Five to Watch in 2024

The League of Ireland has quickly become one of the hottest and most undervalued football talent factories globally. You might be familiar with talents like Ferguson, and Ogbene, but there’s plenty more where that comes from. The League of Ireland Premier Division is set to begin, and here are five players to keep an eye on.

For those who do not know me, my name is Bill, and I’m the founder and owner of the Irish Football Blog and “Owner” of the Republic of Ireland Player Tracker. Football in Ireland is well and truly on the rise, and if you haven’t joined the revolution already, I suggest you do it, and you do it quickly.

To put it short, I’m obsessed with football, but specifically Irish football, and I’m advancing everything I can with it, from our domestic league, and national team to scouting the latest “granny ruler” and so much more. The obsession consumes everything about me as a person.

With the League of Ireland imminent, as part of a partnership with Attacking Footy, we’ve arranged an article series where we look at our “five to watch in 2024” for each of the three divisions in Ireland.

With the First Division article written, next is my five to watch in the 2024 League of Ireland Premier Division.

Dundalk in League of Ireland Premier Division

Five Players to Watch in the 2024 League of Ireland Premier Division Season

1) Andrew Wogan– Drogheda United

  • Age: 18
  • Citizenship: Ireland
  • Height: 1.89 m
  • Position: Goalkeeper
  • Current International: Ireland U19

Our first pick on this list is Drogheda United No.1 and Ireland U19 International Andrew Wogan who burst on the scene last year for the club making 21 appearances and keeping 6 clean sheets. All this despite only turning 18 last December!

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The man who came through the Drogheda academy system quickly caught the eye for his assured and confident performances between the sticks. He showed experience beyond his years.

The highest compliment I can bestow on Wogan is that he’s the most promising keeper from the League of Ireland Premier Division since Bazunu. I was there that night he saved the Sadlier penalty and his quality was clear to everyone not just for the penalty save but his overall performance. It was clear he was destined for big things and history’s proved me right.

Wogan is the brightest keeping talent since Bazunu and while I’m not saying he reaches Bazunu levels. There was interest from cross-channel during the summer and you never know how his career could go…

Andrew Woogan League of Ireland Premier Division keeper

2) Gavin Molloy– Shelbourne

  • Age: 22
  • Citizenship: Ireland
  • Height: 1.79 m
  • Position: CB/CM
  • Current International: N/A

Fresh off the announcement this week that Molloy has signed a new contract until 2025 with Shelbourne he looks poised for another huge League of Ireland Premier Division season with the club. Having come through the Bohemians academy originally, he signed for Shelbourne in 2021 playing a bit part role before making 24 appearances in 2022 and 29 in 2023 after becoming a key cog in the Duff defence and midfield.

His footballing talents come as no surprise though, his grandfather Theo Dunne managed UCD. His uncle Tommy Dunne is a former LOI player and manager and his cousin Evan Caffrey is a Shelbourne player and former U19 International.

Molloy demonstrates brilliant passing and defensive attributes and looks to be destined for a big move in the future, but until then he will play a massive role at Shelbourne!

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Gavin Molloy Shelbourne Midfielder

3) Ryan O’Kane – Dundalk

  • Age: 20
  • Citizenship: Ireland
  • Height: 1.72 m
  • Position: LW/RW
  • Current International: N/a

Ryan O’Kane will be no new name to followers of the league having made his breakthrough for Dundalk in the 2021 season. Since then he has become a consistent squad member. In 2022 he featured 22 times scoring 3 goals and assisting 3 times. Ryan quickly made a name for himself due to his quick feet, ball control, pace and 1v1 ability dazzling crowds in Oriel Park with his technical ability. 

Plenty predicted the 2023 League of Ireland Premier Division season to be a breakthrough year for Ryan with underage Ireland call-ups touted and even whispers of interest from the UK. However, while Ryan’s tally of 3 goals and 3 assists in 38 games wasn’t awful there was arguably more expected of him

Ryan has all the attributes to have a very good career abroad and maybe even for Ireland. He needs to find more consistency and productivity this season, but I do think working with former Ireland International Daryl Horgan will do him the world of good this season again.

Ryan O'Kane League of Ireland Premier Division

4) Conan Noonan – Shamrock Rovers

  • Age: 21
  • Citizenship: Ireland
  • Height: 1.80 m
  • Position: AM
  • Current International: N/a
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Truth be told, Coonan Noonan was not on this original list when I first planned this article.  I’d originally penned Ireland U17 International Naj Razi in this slot but since he’s moved to Serie B side Como, another name would have to take his place. Step forward, Conan Noonan…

Noonan missed most of the 2022 football calendar due to a heart issue which arose after catching Covid twice and was even initially advised by some doctors to retire from football. That wasn’t to deter Noonan though with him being handed a start in the Presidents Cup against St Patrick’s Athletic putting in a MOTM performance assisting all 3 of their goals!

This prompted a huge amount of praise from his manager Stephen Bradley: “It’s not about age, profile, or experience, if you’re ready, you’re ready, and Conan is ready. If I was one of the midfielders I’d be looking over my shoulder because he’s ready to go.”

He is probably the most naturally gifted player, both-footed, that you will see. I don’t know if you noticed but he was taking the corners with his right and his left. That’s him. He’s ready to play.

A man to watch out for in the League of Ireland Premier Division 2024 season!

Conan Noonan

5) Romeo Akachukwu – Waterford

  • Age: 17
  • Citizenship: Ireland/Nigeria
  • Height: 1.78m
  • Position: CM/AM
  • Current International: Ireland U17

Romeo Akachukwu is only 17 years old but has already been making headlines for both club and country last season. The moment which sums this man up is coming off the bench against Athlone in the Playoff Quarter-Final hitting a 29-minute hat trick to spare the blushes of manager Keith Long.

Romeo is a midfielder who can effortlessly dictate the tempo & direction in matches. An ability far beyond his years. As shown by his hat trick he gets forward at every available opportunity often shifting his body to leave opposition players in the dust.

Such was the level of his performances that had him attracting interest from Europe’s elite and Waterford reportedly rejected a 500,000 bid for him from Southampton. He may have signed a contract until November 2025 last July but I can’t see him seeing it out and it looks like only a matter of time before he makes the big move abroad! He could be the next big star out of the League of Ireland Premier Division.

Remember. The. Name.

Romeo Akachukwu

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