Team of the Decade: Left-Back

We’re off to a strong start in our Irish League Team of the Decade with Elliot Morris in goals and Billy Joe Burns at right-back that’s a grand total of eight league titles already.

Today we move across to the other flank and look at the left-back position, just a reminder that the requirements we have set is that a player must have played 50 Premiership games between the years 2010 and 2019.

Ronan Scannell

Though Ronan Scannell played only the first half of the last decade, unlike our other contenders who are all still playing, he has still more than earned his place on our shortlist.

Ronan, along with his brother Chris, was a stalwart at Solitude for many years having had two spells with Cliftonville.

He made his debut in 1999 and played for the North Belfast side for four years before moving to Ards for two years, where he scored the winner in a County Antrim Shield semi-final, and then rejoined Cliftonville under the leadership of Eddie Patterson.

Scannell got the first medal of his Reds career in the 2006/07 season when his side beat Lisburn Distillery in the Shield final but that was just a taste of what was to come.

Between the years of 2010-2015, when he finally hung up his boots, the left-back won three League Cup winners medals, starting two of those finals and coming on as a sub in the other. He was also a key part of the clubs back to back league title wins in 2012–13 and 2013–14, with the only medal alluding him being the Irish Cup. He also turned out for the Reds in Europe and captained the team on occasion.

Scannell was a typically steady 7/10 style of defender who was also capable of chipping in with a few goals over the years, certainly worthy of consideration for this side.

Marcus Kane

From a player who had already hung up his boots the next contender is a player who should still have plenty of football ahead of him.

Marcus Kane joined Glentoran from their biggest rivals Linfield in 2012 and has since gone onto clock up 276 appearances for the East Belfast club, only Elliot Morris from the current Glens squad has played more, and he’s also chipped in with 28 goals in those eight years. Kane’s consistent performances over the years have seen him rewarded with the captain’s armband.

Kane won the Irish Cup with the Glens in 2013 and again in 2015 and with better days appearing to be ahead at The Oval he’ll no doubt have plenty of opportunities to add to that total.

Kane signed a new contract with Glentoran last year until the summer of 2022 which, if he sees that through, will take him to a testimonial season.

Niall Quinn

Earlier this season Niall Quinn made his 250th appearance in a Linfield shirt at the age of just 26 and has been a solid player for the Blues since making his debut at the tail end of the 2011/12 season.

A versatile player, Quinn has played right back and further forward in central midfield or left-wing but most supporters will know him from playing on the left-hand side of defence.

Unfortunately for Quinn his break into the first team came at the start of what would prove to be a lean period in the clubs history as after lifting the league title in 2012 it would be another four years before Quinn or Linfield would see the trophy again but since then Quinn has played a part in two title wins.

Quinn has also won an Irish Cup, League Cup and the County Antrim Shield, the League Cup having been the only medal that eluded him until last season.

Quinn is also a threat from an attacking point of view and is known for his set-piece taking prowess and often pinpoint delivery.

Craig McClean

Another consistent performer in the Irish League over the years, Craig McClean was a former teammate of Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis in his youth.

After being released by Nottingham Forest as a youngster McClean returned home and played for Ballyclare Comrades and Ballymena United, were his manager was another former international and current St. Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, becoming an important player in the side before moving onto Dungannon Swifts in 2009.

At Dungannon McClean continued to put in strong performances on the left hand side of defence and helped the Swifts to a 5th placed finish in his first season, a good season for a side often flirting with relegation and after three years at Stangmore Park his form caught the attention of Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter and he signed for the Crues in the summer of 2012.

The left-back slot had been owned by Stephen McBride at Seaview for many years and the fact that McClean managed to dislodge the Crues hero speaks tantamount of how highly he was thought of. In six years at the club McClean made 237 appearances and was a key member of the title wins in 2014-15 and 2015-16, just reward for a player who was a fine servant to the Irish League and all his clubs.

After being released by the Crues at the end of 2017-18 he signed for Ards and had a stint as caretaker manager there earlier this season after Warren Feeney left the club.

Remember to vote on our poll over on Twitter (@o_t_turnstile) to decide who you think should join Elliot Morris and Billy Joe Burns in our side. We’ll be back later in the week to look at centre back contenders.