Given, Dunne & O’Shea enjoy clean sheets

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Updated: August 27, 2011

22 Irish players featured in the top leagues of England, Scotland, Belguim and Holland as the men in green continued their impressive starts to their respective seasons.

With Russia and Slovakia looming Giovanni Trapattoni will have been pleased to see Shay Given, Richard Dunne and John O’Shea all keeping clean sheets while James McCarthy, who dropped down to the U21’s, also dropped to the bench for Wigan.

There was plenty of Irish interest in the early kick off at Villa Park as unbeaten duo Aston Villa and neighbours Wolves locked horns. Given and Dunne both kept up their strong starts to the season as they kept their second clean sheet in 3 games keeping out another Irish star in top form at the moment Kevin Doyle.

The game ended 0-0 to ensure both sides stay unbeaten Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt completing an Irish sextet that started.

Kevin Foley became the 7th Irish man to feature when he come on after 66 minutes however that was the end of the excitement with both Stephen Ireland and Ciaran Clarke failing to make an appearance from the bench.

At the DW stadium Wigan secured their maiden win of the season thanks to a brace from Franco Di Santo. The former Chelsea striker scored in each half to hand Wigan a 2-0 win over QPR. With James McCarthy, Conor Sammon, who made a second half appearance, as well as QPR pair Brian Murphy and Hogan Ephraim all on the bench it was left to Paddy Kenny to fly the Irish flag.

After claiming his first clean sheet of the season last week, there was little the former Sheffield United keeper could about Di Santo’s brace, with the first a piece of sublime skill and the second a deflected effort that left the shot stopper hapless.

With Seamus Coleman still out injured there were no Irish men on show at Ewood Park as Mikel Arteta scored a last minute penalty to seal Everton’s first win of the season as they beat winless Blackburn 1-0.

Meanwhile Everton’s neighbour’s Liverpool moved top of the table with a Luiz Suarez inspired performance that saw them beat Bolton, 3-1.

Wes Hoolahan returned to the starting line up and played 60 minutes as Norwich went down 3-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a game that was marred by a serious injury to Didier Drogba.

Jose Bosingwa and late efforts from Juan Mata and Frank Lampard sealed the win with Grant Holt briefly drawing Norwich level.

Finally at the Liberty Stadium, O’Shea started at centre half for Sunderland as they drew 0-0 at Swansea to keep up their unbeaten away start to the season.

In Scotland Darren Randolph conceded for the second successive week however Joe Cardle’s efforts came too late to prevent Motherwell from returning to the top of the table with a 4-2 win.

Recent signing Tim Clancy made his debut at centre half for Stuart McCall’s side, the 27 year old who normally plies his trade at right back will have been pleased to get a full 90 minutes under his belt after falling out of favour at Kilmarnock.

Terry Butcher was a relieved man tonight as his Caley Thistle side opened their account for the season with a 2-1 win over Kilmarnock. Graeme Shinnie’s 89th minute goal sealed a vital win. Aaron Doran and Richie Foran both started up front as Butcher opted for a 4-3-3 formation.

Gavin Gunning scored with 7 minutes remaining as Dundee United came from 3-1 down to salvage a point against St Johnstone. Gunning, along with Sean Dillon and Willo Flood all started for United with Jon Daly missing out. Cillian Sheridan, still searching for his first goal of the season, started up front for the Saints with Alan Maybury coming off the bench late on.

In mainland Europe, Barry Maguire played 69 minutes as VVV went down 4-1 to FC Twente in the Dutch league meanwhile in Belgium Dominic Foley came on with 4 minutes to go as Cercle Brugge beat Waterloo 3-1 to go 2nd in the table.

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