Team: Drogheda United.
Manager: Tim Clancy.
Top Scorer: Sean Brennan (12).
Stadium: United Park.
Highest Attendance: League: Drogheda United 2-1 Longford Town (627).
Lowest Attendance: League: Drogheda United 0-1 Finn Harps (222).
Star Player:Chris Lyons
Sean Brennan was named both Player of the Year and Drogheda’s Player’s Player of the Year and has deservedly been named in the PFAI Team of the Year, scoring 12 times from midfield in 27 appearances.
However, Chris Lyons is another to have impressed, having perhaps the best season of his career so far.
He had his best goalscoring season to date, netting 7 times in the league and once in the FAI Cup, from the spot in Drogheda’s win over Shamrock Rovers at United Park.
Lyons contribution was far more than just scoring goals though. Always a willing runner, the forward was at the centre to Drogheda’s play all season with his first touch, hold up play, and passing, particularly for someone of such short stature, proving a challenge for defences across the First Division all season.
With both Brennan and Lyons have already signed back, Drogheda fans will be hoping that is the sign that the key players from 2018 are ready to commit for another push at promotion in 2019.
Best Young Player: Conor Kane
20-year-old Conor Kane is Drogheda’s second player in the PFAI Team of the Year and that will come at no surprise to those who watched Drogheda throughout the season.
The left back is solid defensively and when he gets the ball at his feet, is perhaps Drogheda’s most dangerous player going forward.
An attacking full back who is not afraid to take on his man and deliver the ball in to the box, his style of play has won him fans at United Park over the past two seasons, showed further as he was awarded the Supporter's Club Young Player of the Year award in 2018.
Best New Signing: Ciaran Kelly
Chris Lyons and Ciaran Kelly were the two standout performers from Drogheda’s new signings throughout the 2018 season.
Having already talked about Lyons above, Kelly gets the mention here. In only his first year after signing for Drogheda from St. Patrick's Athletic, where he had regularly featured for their U19 side, the versatile defender impressed greatly.
The only outfield member of Drogheda’s squad to play every minute of all 31 league and play-off fixtures this season, Kelly was a mainstay at centre-half throughout the season.
And when the aforementioned Kane picked up an injury during the season, Kelly showed his versatility, slotting in at left-back.
Playing every minute of the season in a Drogheda defence that had the third best defence in the First Division, behind Shelbourne and Finn Harps, Kelly, alongside Kane was the standout.
What we expected they would do:
We had predicted Drogheda United to finish third in the First Division this season, qualifying for a play-off spot.
What they actually did:
Drogheda did indeed qualify for a play-off spot, but finished fourth in the league, behind champions UCD, second placed Finn Harps and third placed Shelbourne.
Drogheda beat Shelbourne on penalties at Tolka Park after their tie finished all square over two legs. However, the Boynesiders lost 3-1 on aggregate in the next round of the play-offs to Finn Harps, as a 2-0 defeat to the Donegal outfit in the second leg brought Drogheda’s season to an end.
In the FAI Cup, Drogheda played two Premier Division opponents, beating Shamrock Rovers 1-0 at United Park in the first round thanks to a Chris Lyons penalty.
In the second round, Drogheda hosted Waterford but lost 1-0, as Bastien Hery’s fourth minute strike sent Waterford through.
Drogheda came through a tough test against non-league St. Mochta's in the first round of the EA Sports Cup. Tim Clancy's team won 3-2 with Mark Doyle, Eoin McPhillips and Stephen Meaney scoring in between a Dean Kelly penalty and a late Philly Hughes long range strike.
The Louth outfit were knocked out in the second round though, as a much changed and very youthful Drogheda side fell to a 7-2 defeat to Shelbourne.
What they need to improve on for next year:
Questions had lingered over the future of Tim Clancy as Drogheda United manager after Shelbourne have made an approach to appoint the rookie manager as their new boss.
However, Clancy has made the decision to stay with Drogheda, and at the time of writing, had already signed back three key members from the 2018 squad, mentioned in the article - Chris Lyons, Sean Brennan and Conor Kane (see here).
If Drogheda can keep hold of the bulk of this year’s squad, a large number of which have just completed their third year with the Boynesiders, they would be in a good place as they continue to build their squad for 2019.
If they can do that, and add more depth across the squad, and perhaps bringing in a bit more experience like the level Sean Brennan and Paul Skinner brought in 2018, Drogheda can again mount another promotion push next season.