Brian Strahan takes an in depth look at the fortunes of the Irish players plying their trade across Europe and beyond over the past seven days.
Monday, 24th of September
Huddersfield Town jumped into second place in the Championship after a 3-1 victory over Blackpool whose hectic league start was halted.
Whilst there is no Irish interest at Bloomfield Road the opposite can be said of newly promoted Huddersfield who have four players of Irish lineage.
Drogheda born goalkeeper Nick Colgan is a member of the first team squad but his role now is primarily as the goalkeeping coach of the Huddersfield academy side. Colgan’s peak at international level came when he won nine caps between 2002 and 2004, his last call up being in 2006.
Anthony Gerrard played against his cousin Steven in the 2012 League Cup Final and was unfortunate to be the one whose missed penalty handed the trophy to Liverpool. Gerrard, who qualifies for Ireland through his Grandmother, has represented Ireland at under 18 level. Prior to the Wembley showdown last February he commented on how he would, “love the chance to play for the senior squad.”
After Cardiff rejected bids from Bristol City and Leicester City, Gerrard was allowed talk to the newly promoted West Yorkshire side and signed a three year contract. On Monday night he started at centre back and helped hold a tight line against Ian Holloway’s side that had started the season in rambunctious fashion.
Sean Scannell is another player who joined Huddersfield in the close season, leaving Crystal Palace after a nine-year residence. Scannell, who prospers in roaming roles in midfield and up front, has represented Ireland at 5 different levels and has been called up earlier in Trapattoni’s reign.
Scannell’s appearance from the bench on Monday night came with ten minutes to go and the game effectively over. Sterner tests lie in wait. The other Irish substitute on the night was an unused one, another former Crystal Palace player, Alan Lee. Lee’s ten international appearances came between 2003 and 2006. With Jordan Rhodes early season transfer to Blackburn, more opportunities should follow for both Scannell and Lee to stake their claim.
Tuesday, 25th of September
English League Cup – Third Round
The third round of the League cup saw the involvement of a plethora of Irish players.
Bradford City’s 3-1 victory over Burton Albion saw Carl McHugh of Donegal get as close as he’s gotten yet to a first start but the defender was an unused substitute.
League Two’s Burton Albion currently have four Irish players on their books. Under 21 defender Rob Kiernan is on loan from Wigan and Cork teenager Anthony O’Connor is on loan from Blackburn. Kiernan has yet to start for Burton but Anthony O’Connor started again in defence. There was also a first start for Limerick native Damien McCrory who signed for Albion after being released by Dagenham & Redbridge in May. Another Limerick man, John McGrath, wasn’t on the pitch for The Brewers. But McGrath is Albions most established Irish player and club captain. The ex Belvedere FC player has played over 200 times for the club in midfield.
John Terry had his FA hearing hanging over him but will have found some escapism in being a part of Chelsea’s 6-0 hammering of Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves did not have their strongest side out with Stephen Ward and Kevin Doyle rested from the match squad in full. Stephen Hunt did start but was replaced at half time by a fellow Irish man, Anthony Forde from Ballingarry, Co. Limerick. Kevin Foley who has been in good form recently for the Championship side after the disappointment of the last minute exclusion from the Euro 2012 squad was an unused substitute.
Crawley Town have had a decent start to life in League one following last seasons promotion and might have fancied their chances against a Swansea side who have initially flattered only to be flattened by Everton last weekend. And it proved they were right to fancy their chances, the Premiership side relying on Garry Monk’s last minute header to secure a meeting with Aston Villa in the fourth round.
Scott Davies, who has played at under 19 and 21 level for Ireland was named on the bench for The Reds, but the midfielder didn’t get the opportunity to impress. Fellow Irishman Mark Connolly from Monaghan was also an unused substitute. Having left Bolton Wanderers for Crawley Town in May for more regular football he will hope this trend doesn’t continue.
Tipped by Ireland Under 21 manager Noel King to break into the senior Irish squad, Aidy White showed why, contributing to a rousing Leeds performance, skipping past Marouane Fellaini and Sylvain Distin to coolly finish past Jan Mucha in their 2-1 victory over Everton. There was no start for ex-senior international Paddy Kenny who was recovering from a groin injury sustained last weekend against Nottingham Forest and Paul Green remains sidelined with injury also. Seamus Coleman started again for Everton while Shane Duffy was an unused substitute.
Aston Villa had Ciaran Clark in the starting line up and Shay Given was given an opportunity to start for the first time since losing his place early season. Despite conceding twice his side recorded an impressive 4-2 win over Manchester City. Richard Dunne has yet to return from injury – despite Trapattoni placing him on the stand-by list for the Germany match and Stephen Ireland also missed out after injuring his wrist in the 4-1 defeat to Southampton.
Also missing out on a start were ex- Shamrock Rovers midfielder Enda Stevens, Graham Burke, Derrick Williams and Samir Carruthers.
A large Irish contingent took to the field at Stadium MK with Ian McLoughlin in goal for MK Dons and a triumvirate of Irish midfielders starting in Shaun Williams, Stephen Gleeson and Darren Potter. Jay O’Shea also made a second half substitute appearance.
Their opponents, Sunderland, triumphed on the night with two second half goals, the second from James McClean with just under ten minutes remaining. McClean was joined in midfield by David Meyler. Keiren Westwood was again selected by O’Neill and would have hoped to do enough to warrant a league start. Centre back John Egan, son of the late Kerry corner forward John Egan, was an unused substitute.
Ex Cork City forward Graham Cummins was part of a late double substitute for Preston but was given little time to impact the 3-1 score line in Middlesborough’s favour. Ex-Irish Under Seventeen winger, Eighteen year old Will Hayhurst, was the other half of that double substitution.
Sheffield Wednesday had a tough away game at Southampton who were just off the back their first Premier league victory and were not strong enough, losing 2-0. But from an Irish perspective there was good news in the debut of ex-UCD midfielder Paul Corry.
Swindon Town had an impressive home win over Burnley, winning 3-1 at The County Ground. James Collins was a very late substitute for Swindon’s first goal scorer Paul Benson. Swindon captain, Dubliner Alan McCormack, played the full ninety minutes, as he so often does under Paolo DI Canio. The other captain on the night was also Irish, twenty five year old Chris McCann, a Burnley stalwart at this stage with over two hundred appearances. Ex-Cork City defender Kevin Long was an unused substitute.
In the final third round match of the evening Wigan were 4-1 winners away to West Ham. Unfortunately Irish goalkeeper Stephen Henderson was the home teams ‘keeper.
Blue Square Premier
Nathan Rooney was a 75th minute substitute for Telford who finished the game with nine men and a two goal deficit in a 4-2 defeat at home to Newport.
Pat O’Connor, the only Irishman in an otherwise all English team was booked in Braintree Towns 2-0 home defeat to Dartford.
James McKeown was the Grimsby Town goalkeeper in their 3-0 home victory over Gateshead. Gateshead had Dublin midfield veteran Michael Cummins in midfield.
Colin Larkin was a second half substitute in Lincoln City’s 2-1 victory over Nuneaton. Stephen O’Halloran was also a second half substitute, for Nuneaton. The Cork man played twice under Steve Staunton in 2007 against Ecuador and Bolivia.
Declan Walker was part of Wrexham’s 3-0 winning side over Barrow which saw the Welsh side continue their strong start to the season.
Scottish League Cup
Anthony Stokes remains unavailable to Celtic who were comfortable 4-1 winners over Raith Rovers.
Dundee United had a 1-0 away win over Queen of The South, and Ex Longford Town and Shelbourne defender Sean Dillon started in defence for United along with ex-Crumlin United defender Gavin Gunning. Dubliners Willo Flood and Jon Daly also started for The Terrors.
St. Johnstone had a comfortable 4-1 win over Queen’s Park, Dublin Midfielder Patrick Cregg was an unused substitute.
David Van Zaten, the ex-Tolka Rovers full back was a second half substitute in St. Mirren’s 1-0 victory over Hamilton. Popular club captain Jim Goodwin started against his previous club in midfield alongside Blanchardstown midfielder Graham Carey.
Inverness had to rely on penalties away to Stenhousemuir to progress to the fourth round. Richie Foran was pivotal in setting up Inverness’s goal. Aaron Doran also started while Philip Roberts was an extra time substitute.
Wednesday, 26th of September
English League Cup – Third Round
It was a night to forget for Irish goalkeeper Joe Murphy who conceded six goals in a 6-1 hiding away to Arsenal. It was a pain shared with fellow Irishmen Adam Barton and Stephen Elliott.
Ex-Ireland midfielder and current Carlisle United assistant manager Graham Kavanagh could only watch as the home side were easily beaten by Tottenham Hotspur. Long serving Irish defender Peter Murphy started as did Ireland under 21 midfielder James Berrett. Ex-Bohemians striker Patrick Madden was on the bench.
Robbie Brady was an eighty sixth minute substitute in Manchester Uniteds 2-1 victory over Newcastle United. Interestingly, as he has done in the past, Alex Ferguson brought Brady on at left back, in place of Alexander Buttner. A position he tried Brady at in pre-season.
Norwich and former Ireland assistant manager and player Chris Hughton was happy for the bit of breathing space the 1-0 cup victory over Doncaster will have given him. Wes Hoolohan, again made his appearance from the substitutes bench.
Noel Hunt and Jay Tabb both started for Reading in their 3-2 victory away to QPR, while Shane Long couldn’t make a difference as West Bromwich Albion went out to Liverpool, 2-1 at home.
Scottish League Cup
A large Ibrox crowd saw Rangers defeat Darren Randolph’s Motherwell, the Bray man conceding twice in the second half to give the Glasgow side a place in the fourth round.
Craig Brown’s Aberdeen had former Irish under 21 winger Jonny Hayes in the side as they progressed thanks to a 1-0 win away to Dunfermline.
Friday, 28th of September
Cheltenham were led to a 2-0 victory over Morecambe by their Cork captain and ex-Cork City defender Alan Bennett; a victory that saw them move up to fifth in League Two.
Blue Square Premier
Colin Larkin followed Tuesday nights substitute appearance for Lincoln City with a start for the Dundalk striker in their 3-0 defeat away to Forest Green, a victory that saw Gloucestershire side move to the top of the table.
Saturday, 29th of September.
Seamus Coleman again started for David Moyes’s Everton side as their impressive form in the premier league continued with a 3-1 home victory over Southampton. Shane Duffy was again an unused substitute for the home side.
Damien Duff was a part of the Fulham side that very nearly took a point from the visit of reigning champions Manchester City who had to rely on a late winner from substitute Edin Dzeko. Stephen Kelly’s stint on the substitutes bench doesn’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon.
Wes Hoolahan’s frustration must be rising as he had to again settle for a place on the Norwich bench. His appearance as a fifty fifth minute substitute by Chris Hughton came at a point when the game was effectively over. He should now expect to start in Norwich’s next game after being involved in some good moves after his introduction.
After the height of a debut goal for Ireland against Oman, Alex Pearce has dropped down the pecking order at Reading and was a substitute for his clubs home 2-2 draw with Newcastle. Noel Hunt took the opportunity of a first league start of the season to score Reading’s second.
Marc Wilson, Jonathan Waters and Glen Whelan all again started for Stoke City as they recorded their first Premiership win of the season at home to Swansea City.
John O’Shea returned to the Sunderland defence after being rested mid-week and David Meyler dropped back to the bench. James McClean started as Sunderland also recorded their first league win of the season. James McCarthy played in midfield for The Latics.
Dubliner Stephen Dawson rescued a point for Barnsley with a late equaliser against an Ipswich side that contained Daryl Murphy in attack and Ronan Murray on the bench.
Bolton Wanderers, with Keith Andrews in centre midfield, suffered a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to a Crystal Palace team that had Owen Garvan and Damien Delaney in its starting line up.
Paddy Kenny returned to the Leeds team after a minor injury saw him miss the league cup victory over Everton while goal scoring Aidy White in the same match, retained his place. Paul Green’s absence due to injury continues.
Chris McCann played seventy minutes of Burnley’s 2-2 draw with Millwall. Kevin Long was an unused substitute. David Forde, Alan Dunne and Andy Keogh all started for Kenny Jackett’s Millwall side.
Ireland under 21 striker Joe Mason was an early first half substitute as they saw off the challenge of Blackpool in a 3-0 home victory.
Anthony Gerrard started for Huddersfield Town in their 2-3 home defeat to Watford. Sean Scannell were both second half substitutes and Alan Lee seemed to have earned a draw with a late equaliser only for Watford to convert a winning penalty with only three minutes to go. Midfielders Mark Yeates, Connor Smith and Sean Murray all came from the bench for Watford to help secure their victory.
Stephen Quinn started for Hull City in a disappointing 3-1 home reversal to Peterborough United. Paul McShane yet again was on the substitutes bench. Nineteen year old Kane Ferdinand started in midfield for Peterborough as his side ended a seven match losing run.
Sean St. Ledger played in the central defence of a Leicester side that recorded an impressive away victory over Middlesborough who had a 100% home record going into the game.
Stephen Ward, Kevin Doyle and Kevin Foley all starred in Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 hone victory over Sheffield Wednesday.
Scottish Premier League
Tim Clancy, Gary Deegan, Eoin Doyle and Alan Maybury all started for Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian side but couldn’t prevent defeat away to Aberdeen who ended a poor run of home matches without victory in a 2-1 victory.
Patrick Cregg went off injured for St. Jonhnstone in their 3-1 away win over Dundee.
Irish Striker Cillian Sheridan brought some attention to his striking credentials with an impressive hat trick away to Hearts.
Another Irish striker, Inverness’s Richie Foran, scored two first half goals as he led his side to a 4-0 home victory over Dundee United
Darren Randolph conceded two goals as they were replaced at the top of the table by their opponents Celtic who dominated for long periods of their victory at Fir Park.
Jim Goodwin, David Van Santen and Graham Carey all started for St Mirren as they defeated Ross County 5-4 in a dramatic match.
Further Afield This Week
Liam Lawrence scored his second goal for new club PAOK with an adroit volley from the edge of the area in a 4-1 victory over Aris in the Greek Super League. Unfortunately the day would end badly for the winger as he was sent off in the ninth minute of injury time. His goal did though contribute to PAOK climbing to second place in the league behind Olympiakos.