Cup win and second place not enough for fellow pros
SECOND place in the league, qualification for Europe and an EA Sports Cup triumph didn't impress fellow PFAI members who have delivered an extraordinary snub to the Drogheda United squad.
Gavin Brennan, Ryan Brennan, Derek Prendergast, Declan O'Brien and Gabriel Sava would have been among the front runners for awards in their various positions, but not a single Drogheda player made the final cut for the Premier Division Team of the Year or the shortlist of three for Young Player of the Year. Nor has any of the team won a Soccer Writers Association Player of the Month Award for 2012.
Manager Mick Cooke admitted that the omissions made his job considerably easier as he tried to motivate the team ahead of the final game of the season against Bohemians last Friday, when Tiarnan Mulvenna grabbed a hat-trick as the Boynesiders crushed Bohemians 4-1 to secure second place in the table and a cheque for €45,000.
Incredibly, it was the 11th time that Drogheda had scored three or more in a competitive match this season, and their final goals tally of 51 was three more than Paul Doolin's title-winning squad managed in 2007 when the season comprised three more games.
'I think the players saw that it was their own people voting for the PFAI Team of the Year and the pre-match team talk was very simple,' Cooke said on Tuesday.
'I just said, let's go out there and show them that if they can't reward us individually then maybe they'll give us Team of the Year, and we did exactly that.
'We were missing our top three scorers and Eric Foley and we still could have been five or six goals up at halftime, and the second half was fantastic as well.
'I'm sure one or two of them felt aggrieved that they weren't on the [PFAI] team, and I know the vote was a couple of weeks ago, but even at that stage we had the EA Sports Cup won and certainly there were four or five players who would have been in strong contention.
'But I suppose we've achieved what we've achieved and it doesn't matter. They have come up trumps every time they've been asked to do something. 'My only concern at the start of the season was the number of players without Premier experience, but I never doubted their ability.
'Sometimes you can get a couple of handy draws in cups, and in fairness we did it the hard way [winning the EA Sports Cup], beating Bohs, Dundalk, Sligo and Shamrock Rovers, but your league position does not lie and to finish second is a fantastic achievement.'
Cooke, who has already agreed new contracts with Gabriel Sava, Gavin Brennan, Derek Prendergast and Eric Foley, will meet the remaining squad members over the next few days with a view to re-signing most of them, and after Friday week's Player of the Year Awards the squad will reassemble for pre-season training either on January 5th or 12th.