It was FA cup weekend in England this week which meant a much welcome break for a host of our Irish stars, there was still however plenty of our men in green in action with a full programme in Scotland and an almost full programme in the Championship. The Trap Door rounds up the action
The meteoric rise of James McClean continued as he ended a hugely satisfying weekend with a first, if somewhat late call up to the Ireland squad ahead of the clash with the Czech Republic.
McClean has begun 2012 in sparkling fashion and while he may not have scored this weekend against Arsenal, the former Derry man ensured that Bacary Sagna knew he was in a game as he’s direct running caused the right back loads of problems.
McClean was joined in the Sunderland side by John O’Shea who got his just reward this weekend with a clean sheet. The former Manchester United man impressed in the 2-1 league defeat to the same opposition the weekend with little to show for his efforts, but a strong performance at the back helped Sunderland into the quarter finals. O’Shea’s solid partnership with Michael Turner is proving to be another positive for manager Martin O’Neill.
A rejuvenated Sean St Ledger continued his recent revival with the opening goal as Leicester shocked in form Norwich with a 2-1 win at Carrow Road. Paul Lambert named a strong line up that included Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan, with former Livingston man Hoolahan levelling matters on 23 minutes. Hoolahan saw his first effort saved by Kasper Schmeichel before he scored with the rebound.
Darron Gibson was the only Irish man to start at Goodison park with Shane Duffy out of the squad and Seamus Coleman on the bench. Coleman came on just before the hour mark and made a couple of strong runs down the right before going close with a low volley.
Andy Keogh started while David Forde was on the bench as Millwall went down 2-0 at home to Bolton while Colin Doyle, Stephen Carr, Keith Fahey and Adam Rooney all played their part as Birmingham managed to draw away to Chelsea.
Doyle can add a penalty save from Juan Mata to his resume while Fahey was full of energy in the middle of the park for Brum. Rooney did his best up front to unsettle Luiz and Gary Cahill although sadly for Carr his afternoon ended early following an injury.
22 year old New York born Don Cowan played the final 17 minutes as Stevenage claimed a memorable home draw against Spurs. Cowan ploughed a lonely furrow up front for the League two side as Gary Smith’s side did what few sides have done so far this season and put the shackles on their attacking threat.
Sunday’s third game in the Cup saw Stoke came away from a potential banana skin against Crawley with a 2-0 win. Former Irish midfielder Rory Delap was sent off in the 18th minute for a straight red following a stud-showing tackle on David Hunt.
Tony Pulis’s side managed with just the ten men as first Jon Walters scored from the penalty spot for his 10th of the season 3 minutes before half time and then Glenn Whelan whipped in a free for Peter Crouch to head home. Next up for Stoke is a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
See highlights of the game
In the SPL Pat Fenlon and Eoin Doyle got a firsthand look at the gulf in class between second bottom and the top as Celtic came to Easter Road and won 5-0. Anthony Stokes began the demolition job with a goal on 14 minutes.
Darren Randolph kept a clean sheet as Motherwell beat fourth place Hearts 3-0 while in the Championship, Darren O’Dea was in the centre of defence as Leeds beat Barnsley 3-2 however Paul Green, another to benefit from a late call up could do little to his Derby in their 4-0 loss to Southampton.