Steven Davis and Jonny Evans had reason to celebrate last weekend as they both lifted as the current campaigns draw to a close.
Davis lifted the Scottish Premiership with Rangers, just over two months after the blue side of Glasgow mathematically become impossible to catch. The Northern Ireland captain was part of the Gers’ side that last won the title in 2011. The title lift also meant that it was exactly ten years to the date between Rangers title lifts, with the team being relegated to League Two in 2012.
Evans was victorious in the final of the FA Cup as Leicester City defeated Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. The result means that Evans is the first Northern Irishman to lift the oldest national football competition trophy since Roy Carroll in 2004.
Not only is there a Northern Irish link through Evans, the winning manager Brendan Rodgers is also from the country. It marks his first trophy since he left Celtic and shows the impressive progress he is making with the 2015/16 Premier League Champions.
While the Premier League still has one more match day, the rest of the leagues around the UK have already finished for the season or about to host their play-off matches to determine promotion and in some cases, relegation.
Former Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood will play in the EFL Championship next season if he remains with Sheffield United after their relegation from the Premier League. However, Craig Cathcart and Michael McGovern will play top-flight football next season after Watford ended their season in 2nd place, behind McGovern’s Norwich who were won the Championship.
Gavin Whyte and Josh Magennis helped Hull City get promoted to England’s second-tier after their EFL League One title win. While Magennis is under contract with the Tigers for next season, Whyte will return to Cardiff City, who also play in the Championship after his loan deal expires.
Northern Ireland players feature heavily in the League One play-offs. Blackpool go into the second leg of their play-off against Oxford United with a 3-0 lead, with Daniel Ballard impressing throughout the season in the Tangerines defence.
Mark Sykes was in the Oxford side for that fixture and although he was born in Belfast, he opted to play for the Republic of Ireland, but he is yet to be called up to the squad.
The winners of the second leg will face either Sunderland or Lincoln in the final at Wembley, with Lincoln holding a 2-0 lead over their opponents.
Jordan Jones will be hoping to end his loan spell from Rangers with some silverware and has Tom Flanagan in defence to help with that. It will be a difficult task for the Black cats but Northampton Town proved in 2020 that the impossible is possible in the play-offs.
Damien Duff tasted managerial success as his Cheltenham Town side topped the League Two table ahead of Cambridge United.
Over in Scotland, Liam Boyce and Michael Smith will return to the top-flight after helping Hearts to the Championship title.
In Northern Ireland, Shane Lavery has helped Linfield to be within touching distance of a world record equalling 55th league title and has had help from Joel Cooper.
For me, this season has really shown the quality of Northern Ireland internationals. The players mentioned are just the ones who have tasted success in either winning the title or getting promotion, but there have been so many more that have excelled.
Stuart Dallas has been in the form of his life, Conor Hazard got some valuable game time and Will Grigg was on fire for MK Dons. Hopefully, these players can continue this form into next season and really help Northern Ireland on their push for a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.