Stat review of 2023 League of Ireland Premier Division season – formations, passing stats and standout players

Jack Byrne (top left), Jack Moylan (bottom left), Paul McMullan (centre) and Jonathan Afolabi (right)

Jack Byrne (top left), Jack Moylan (bottom left), Paul McMullan (centre) and Jonathan Afolabi (right) Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick, Martin Doherty and Conor Ryan

The 2024 League of Ireland fixtures are out and a few friendlies are beginning to populate the FAI Connect App but we aren’t done with the 2023 campaign just yet here at

Having done a review of the Women’s Premier Division (see below), we now turn our attention to the men’s top flight.


Unlike the 2022 campaign when the expected goals (xG) for and against produced an expected points (xPoints) total that had Derry City as champions just ahead of Shamrock Rovers, there was no such statistical surprise for 2023!

For the recently completed season Stephen Bradley’s side had an xPoints total of 74 (ahead of the 72 they actually got). While Derry City were second (61 v 65 actual), the xPoints put Bohs in third.

In reality the Gypsies finished sixth with 58 points but their xPoints total of 56 would have had them ahead of Dundalk (54), Pat’s (50) and Shels (49).

The Late Late Show

Switching to actual goals scored, Stephen O’Donnell’s Dundalk side were the best for late goals, scoring 21 in the last 15 minutes (plus injury time), three clear of Bohs and four of Pat’s. 

Only Cork City scored more goals in the first half (19) than the second half (16) of games and Bohs were very much a second half side – they scored 23 more goals in the second half than in the first half, with only UCD scoring fewer first half goals (7) compared with Bohs’ (15).

Goals conceded

Shels conceded 27 goals which was 14 less than the expected amount reflecting well on their goal keeper Conor Kearns. For Derry City’s Brian Maher, his team conceded just 24 goals – ten less than the expected goals conceded tally.


Shamrock Rovers were the only team in the top flight to play predominantly in a three at the back formation – favouring 3-4-2-1 (38%), 3-4-1-2 (22%) and 3-5-2 (17%).

Only Shels went 4-4-2 as their most favoured formation (26%), using 5-3-2 for 20% of the time, while Pat’s went mostly with 4-1-4-1 (41%). The rest of the teams favoured 4-2-3-1, with Bohs playing that way consistently throughout the season (92.5%).


The Hoops had the most passes (465 per 90 minutes) with an accuracy of 84% ahead of Derry City (410/82%) and Shels (387/82%).

Rovers topped both the passes to final third and progressive passes ahead of Derry City, both deep completions and touches in the penalty area ahead of Bohs and finally through passes ahead of Sligo Rovers.

Derry City topped the crossing charts with 17.4 per 90 minute, just ahead of Dundalk (17.1) and Bohs (17). The Gypsies had the most dribbles (30 per 90 mins) ahead of Dundalk and Derry City (both 28).


The Hoops were run close in this one as their 57.7% possession was just 0.7 percentage points ahead of Dundalk and 1.1 ahead of Derry City.

Individual performances

Jonathan Afolabi topped the goalscoring charts with 15 but his goals per 90 mins figure of 0.48 was below Graham Burke’s 0.52 (from 12 goals) and Pat Hoban’s 0.5 (from 14 goals).

Jack Moylan had the most shots (93 which worked out as 2.66 per 90) ahead of Burke’s 91 who had a whopping 3.91 shots per 90 and Afolabi 85 (2.69 per 90).

Drogheda United’s Dayle Rooney and Derry’s Ben Doherty topped the assist charts with eight each, one ahead of Doherty’s teammate Will Patching and Shamrock Rovers’ Rory Gaffney 7.

Gaffney had the most touches in the penalty area with an average across 90 minutes of 4.93, with his teammate Johnny Kenny in third (4.33).

Jack  Byrne from his 23 league appearances, was best across key passing, deep completions, and passes into final third with Paul McMullan topping the cross charts with the City winger averaging 6.9 per 90 minutes.

Unsurprisingly the Candystripes winger, signed from Dundee during the summer, also topped the dribble table with 8 per 90 minutes with a 66% conversion ahead of Neil Farrugia 7.9 (51%).

Farrugia had the most progressive runs (4.2 per 90) ahead of Dundalk’s Archie Davis (3.4) and Derry City’s Ryan Graydon (3).