A tough, no-nonsense presence at the heart of City’s defence, 20-year-old Dara O’Shea has been one of this campaign’s biggest revelations.
Born in Dublin, he came up through the ranks at West Bromwich Albion, before moving out to Hereford FC on loan last season. Having helped the Bulls to win the Southern League, the Baggies opted to send him to St James Park to further his football education. The move has been an unqualified success so far, with the Irish under-19 international exhibiting an impressive ability to read the game, alongside his strength in the air and his ability in the tackle. Having enjoyed watching him grow thus far, City fans are excited about what is to come from him as the season reaches its crescendo.
3 – Joining the Grecians on a six-month loan deal in August, Dara followed in the footsteps of Kane Wilson and Kyle Edwards to become the third Baggie to make the move from the Hawthorns over the last two seasons. Incidentally, after a short stint at Walsall, Kane has himself recently rejoined City for the rest of the season.
170 – Dara made his debut later that month, a full 170-miles away at Premier League side Fulham in the EFL Trophy. Although the Grecians ultimately lost the tie 2-0, the young centre-half played the full ninety minutes, acquitting himself well against the likes of Alfie Mawson, Callum Chambers and Ryan Sessegnon.
89 – A month later, after a couple of workmanlike displays in the Checkatrade Trophy, Dara made his first league outing, coming on in the 89th minute away at Port Vale. Unfortunately, however, just a minute later, Valiants’ frontman Idris Kanu netted a heart breaking injury time equaliser, making the Grecians' journey back to Devon that little bit longer.
0 – Although he featured regularly in the league throughout November, Dara saved some of his best performances for the Checkatrade Trophy, putting in dominant displays against Bristol Rovers and West Ham's under-21s. Having helped the Grecians through the group stages without conceding a single goal, the young centre-back received some much-deserved plaudits, being named as the competition’s player of the round.
1 – Having received his award in December, he carried his good form into the new year, playing every minute as Exeter conceded just one goal in January. This saw him nominated, alongside goalkeeper Christy Pym, for the PFA League Two player of the month award. On this occasion, the City pair were narrowly beaten out by Carlisle midfielder Jamie Devitt.
6 – Initially only meant to stay at St James Park for six months, January also saw Dara extend his loan spell until the end of the season. In reflecting on the deal, manager Matt Taylor described the Irishman in glowing terms, stating: “We are happy to have him. His character is a credit to West Brom and himself, and I think he will improve a lot in the next few months."
25 – True to form, Dara has done just that, making 25 appearances thus far during his time with the Grecians. The perfect foil to Dean Moxey, the two players have struck up a strong partnership at the heart of the defence, which the Exeter faithful will hope can guide the club into League One come May.