5 May 2013

Cups, Ups and Downs 2012/13

- 2012/13 -
- Club AppearancesTransfers (summer 2012 - January 2013) - Cups, Ups & Downs -

As the football season enters its closing months, weeks and days NIFG will be keeping a track of which Northern Ireland players will be claiming medals, which will be playing in Europe next season and which will be playing in a different division all together (be it high or lower).

It may have been a poor year on the international front, but a few players have excelled on the domestic scene with notable goalscoring tallies in several divisions....

(to end of play 11 May 2013)

Premier League:
Manchester United have claimed the Premier League title, giving Jonny Evans his third championship medal. There are several Northern Ireland-men in peril towards the wrong end of the table, from the slightly worried Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird (both Fulham), Steven Davis (Southampton) and Lee Camp (Norwich) to the anxious Shane Ferguson (Newcastle, currently on loan at Birmingham). Sunderland parted company with manager Martin O'Neill  with seven matches to go as the team appeared to be on a dangerous slide.

Top NI Scorer:  Jonny Evans (Manchester United4 (3 League, 1 Champions League)

While Cardiff ran away with the Championship top-spot, the race for second place went down to the final kick of the season with Corry Evans, Joe Dudgeon and Alex Bruce (all Hull City) finishing ahead of Adam Thompson (Watford) and Lee Hodson (Watford, on loan at Brentford). Watford have had to settle for a play-off spot, and now trail Leicester 1-0 after the first leg of the semi-final. Grant McCann (Peterborough) suffered relegation heartbreak on the final day of the season, which at least meant that Ollie Norwood (Huddersfield) survived. Craig Cathcart (Blackpool) and  Josh Carson (Ipswich) secured their status with a few weeks of the season remaining.

Top NI Scorer: Jamie Ward (Derby Co.12 (all League)

League One:
Things were tight at the top of League One. Josh McQuoid (Bournemouth) has guaranteed a return to the Championship as League One runners-up.  Stuart Dallas (Brentford) and Lee Hodson (on loan at Brentford from Watford) fell agonisingly short in the race for an automatic spot following a dramatic last day of the season defeat by champions Doncaster and will have to compete in the play-offs. Danny Wilson was sacked as Sheffield United manager with them still well-place for the play-offs with only weeks of the season left and they confirmed their place in his absence, while Adam McGurk (Tranmere), Will Grigg and Dean Holden (both Walsall) both fell short of the play-off spots in the closing games of the season. Brentford defeated Swindon to qualify for the play-off final, while Sheffield United lost to Yeovil in the semi-finals. At the foot of the table, David Healy and Trevor Carson (both Bury) have been relegated to League Two, while Kirk Millar and Carl Winchester (both Oldham) have now done enough to retain the status.

Top NI Scorer: Will Grigg (Walsall20 (19 League, 1 League Trophy)

League Two:
Tom Flanagan made a significant contribution to Gillingham's march to the top of League Two earlier in the season while on loan from MK Dons. Five consecutive wins at the end of the season saw Rotherham (Michael O'Connor) surge to runnes-up spot. Billy Kee and Robbie Weir (both Burton) fell just short of an automatic promotion spot settling instead for a play-off spot. Perhaps inevitably, Burton lost to Rory McArdle's Bradford, who scraped into the play-offs, at the semi-final stage. Tommy Doherty (Exeter City), Damian Johnson, Conor McLaughlin (both Fleetwood), Caolan Lavery, Matthew Lund (both on loan at Southend, from Sheffield Wednesday and Stoke City respectively), Tony Capaldi and Adam Chapman (both Oxford) have all had to settle for mid-table despite being in contention during the closing weeks of the season. At the foot of the table the Nigel Worthington-managed York City (with Michael InghamPaddy McLaughlin, David McDaid and Josh Carson (loan from Ipswich cut short by injury) among the playing staff) pulled clear of relegation in the closing weeks, while Warren Feeney (Plymouth) also guaranteed their status on the last day of the season.  James Gray (Accrington) secured their League place in the penultimate match of the season, but Barnet (where Tom Flanagan is currently on loan) fell out of the league following a final day defeat.

Top NI Scorers: Billy Kee (Burton Albion) 14 (13 League, 1 League Cup); Matt McClure (Wycombe Wanderers) 11 (all League)

Adam Chapman (Mansfield, on loan from Oxford) has secured the Conference title and a return to the Football League while Alan Julian was an unused substitute as Newport County won the promotion play-off final. However, Steve Jones' Telford have suffered relegation from the Conference National.

Rory McArdle made a surprise appearance in the League Cup Final with Bradford, though the League Two side lost heavily to Swansea. The Swans win however means that should Rory Donnelly break into the firstteam he could be playing Europa League football next season.

Jonny Evans' Manchester United's "Double" dreams ended with their FA Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of Chelsea. The last hope of a Northern Irish winner was with Millwall, where Maik Taylor is currently the back-up 'keeper, who lost their semi-final to Wigan.

The Football League Trophy final was won by Crewe, winning 2-0 against Southend United who have two young Northern Irish loanees in their squad, Lund and Lavery, though neither featured at Wembley despite playing en-route to the final.

Premier League:
Neil Lennon-managed Celtic were largely unchallenged as they retained the SPL title, though Paddy McCourt has been merely a bit-part player throughout the campaign, and he will just about earn a medal. The absence of Rangers has left the real interest in the battle for the automatic Europa League spots: Billy McKay (Inverness) are well placed with Ivan Sproule, Sam Morrow (both Ross County), Steve Lomas (manager), Alan Mannus and Jonny Tuffey (all St. Johnstone) trailing just behind.

Top NI Scorers: Billy McKay (Inverness CT) 27 (23 League, 3 Scottish Cup, 1 League Cup); Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) 20 (19 League, 1 Scottish Cup)

Scottish Football League:
The now rejected proposed re-organisation to the Scottish Leagues may have made finishing positions in the lower divisions largely academic, but Rangers (with Andy Little, Dean Shiels, Chris Hegarty and Andrew Mitchell in their squad) have convincingly won the Third Division with Bryan Gilfillan's Peterhead finishing as runners-up to qualify for the play-offs. They will face East Fife in the two-legged play-off final having defeated Queen's Park in the semi-finals.

Top NI Scorer (First): Andy Kirk (ex-Dunfermline Athletic) 4 (all League)
Top NI Scorer (Second): N/A
Top NI Scorer (Third): Andy Little (Rangers) 25 (22 League, 1 League Cup, 2 Challenge Cup)

Danny Lennon managed St Mirren to their first major trophy since the 1980s when they defeated Hearts in the Scottish League Cup final.

Northern Ireland where well represented at the Scottish Cup semi-finals stage: James McPake and Ryan McGivern (both Hibernian) saw-off Michael McGovern and Johnny Flynn (both Falkirk) 4-3 in a thrilling match, with Brian McLean on the bench as Dundee United lost to Lennon's Celtic in the second game which also finished 4-3!

Cliftonville, with Liam Boyce, Martin Donnelly, Conor Devlin and George McMullan among their squad convincingly claimed a first Irish League title in 15 years. Crusaders (featuring Sean O'Neill, Colin Coates, Josh Robinson and Jordan Owens) finished runnes-up and Linfield (Alan Blayney, David ArmstrongMichael Gault, Damien Curran, Philip Lowry, Peter Thompson, Michael Carvill, Nathan Hanley, Gary Browne, Robert Garrett (now on loan at FC Edmonton), Jim Ervin, Jamie Mulgrew, Mark McAllister and Ross Glendinning) trailing in a disappointing third to at least claim a Europa League spot. Tim McCann was sacked as manager of Lisburn Distillery (with Andy Hunter and Ryan McCann in his squad) following the confirmation of their relegation while Donegal Celtic (with Paul McAreavey and Peter McCann) will face a promotion-relegation play-off against the Championship 1 runners-up Warrenpoint Town.

The Irish League Cup final was won in convincing style by Cliftonville (Devlin, McMullan, Boyce and Donnelly) 4-0 over Crusaders (Coates, Robinson and Owens).

At the Irish Cup semi-finals stage Cliftonville defeated Crusaders and Glentoran (Stephen Carson, Richard Clarke, Marcus Kane, Jay Magee, Elliot Morris, Jim O'Hanlon, Sean Ward and Andrew Waterworth) saw-off Portadown (Kevin Braniff, Chris Casement, Michael McLellan, David Miskelly and Chris Ramsey). The final, played at Windsor Park on 4th May, saw Glentoran deny Cliftonville a first ever "Treble", winning 3-1 in extra-time with Waterworth scoring twice in a Man of the Match performance.

In the regional competitions, Glenn Ferguson managed Ballymena United to the Co. Antrim Shield title (their first trophy in 25 years) with a team featuring Tony Kane defeating Linfield in the final. In the Mid-Ulster Cup final, Dungannon Swifts defeated Banbridge Town 2-1 with Matt Hazley scoring an extra-time winner. In the North West Cup final, Coleraine (Lee Colligan) defeated Institute (Dean Jarvis) 3-0.

Top NI Scorers: Liam Boyce (Cliftonville) 35 (29 League, 2 Irish Cup, 3 League Cup, 1 Europa League); Andrew Waterworth (Glentoran) 25 (20 League, 5 Irish Cup); Curtis Allen (Coleraine) 20 (17 League, 2 Irish Cup, 1 League Cup).

Premier Division:
Darren Meenan helped St Pat's Athletic to third spot and a Europa League spot in the League of Ireland Premier Division in 2012 before moving to Dundalk for the 2013 campaign. It was at Dundalk that Liam Burns managed to avoid relegation only via the play-offs.

Derry City won the FAI Cup, defeating St Pat's 3-2 in extra-time thanks to two goals from Rory Patterson. Also in the Derry team were Ruaidhri Higgins, Dermot McCaffreyShane & Patrick McEleney and David McDaid (now York City).

Thomas Stewart was part of the Shamrock Rovers side that lost 3-1 to Drogheda in the League of Ireland Cup final.

Roy Carroll has helped Olympiakos to retain their Greek Super League title and they claimed the "The Double" having won the Greek Cup final 11th May.

While Kyle Lafferty's FC Sion have endured a frustrating season in the Swiss Super League, they do look likely to finish within the Europa League spots. In addition they exited the Swiss Cup in the semi-finals.

Paddy McCourt and Jonny Evans both competed in the UEFA Champions League through the 2012/13 season, but both Celtic and Manchester United bowed out in the last 16. Shane Ferguson would have been the last Northern Ireland international who may have competed in Europe this season as Newcastle United are in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League, but having extended his loan to Birmingham he won't be making any further appearances in the competition. As a consequence, the last appearance by a Northern Ireland international was by Roy Carroll in Olympiacos' last 32 defeat by Levante.

See also:
Club Appearances 2012/13
Transfers Summer 2012
Transfers January 2013

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